Racing is a tough business. Just when you seem to be riding high, something happens.
And if you are in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS), that something is usually John Wes Townley.
I kid, I kid.
While the wreck at Kansas Speedway last week that took Parker Kligerman in the NCWTS race was not Townley’s fault, it is indicative of just how fast your luck can change in racing.
Coming into Kansas, Kligerman and his Ricky Benton Racing (RBR) team was the only group in the series to finish in the top 10 in the first three races of the season. (Full disclosure: I work with the RBR team doing public and media relations) Kligerman was second in points heading into the season’s fourth race. On lap 49, John Hunter Nemechek got into Townley who came down the track and spun Kligerman’s Ford into the outside wall. The hit registered 62 Gs; the hardest hit NASCAR has recorded this year.
The 31st-place finish left them 10th in points, but the real damage goes beyond that.
RBR is running the NCWTS schedule this year with two full-time employees and the truck that was obliterated at Kansas was the same truck they planned to take to Charlotte in two weeks. They don’t really have another intermediate truck in their stable and have a race this weekend in Dover. That leaves them with very few options for one of the biggest races on the truck schedule.
As of Monday night when I wrote this, I do not know what they will do for Charlotte and then Texas a couple weeks later. With their immensely talented young driver and a bunch of hard working guys, they (along with similarly scrappy Nemechek) have been the feel-good story of the early season. Not just because they let me go to the track with them, I hope they can get something worked out for the upcoming races. They have a good chance of getting a win this year – one for the underdog. As crew chief Mike Hester said on the way to the airport after the race, “we can run with these guys if we get to run with them.”
So, I have a few other interests other than racing. I have played drums since I was in junior high. Not well, but I play. Last weekend, there was a little venture to Nashville and somehow I ended up behind the drum set on the roof at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge playing Bob Seger’s Night Moves. I know reading this brings no value to your lives, but Tootsie’s is one of the most famous honky-tonks in the world and Hank Williams played there. I have to thank my wife for making that happen. Definitely a bucket-list item checked off.
What the heck, N.C. State? Why did you not come off the couple thousand bucks to send your 1983 national champion men’s basketball team to D.C. to meet the president? A shame that those guys had to wait 33 years to get their trip and had to do it without Lorenzo Charles and coach Jim Valvano. As a State alum and fan, it makes me sad.
Speaking of Valvano, I am currently reading The Legends Club by John Feinstein. Highly recommended. I may have cried a couple of times.
If I were every other team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, I would be scared of what Joe Gibbs Racing is doing. Since Kyle Busch returned from his injury last year, the team has won 17 of 54 races run. And Matt Kenseth hasn’t even gotten going this year and Denny Hamlin has had some bad luck after winning the Daytona 500. It seems like it may be JGR and the field in 2016.
This one is a few weeks old, but I still can’t quite make of what NASCAR did with Tony Stewart after his comments about pit crews not having to tighten all five lugnuts per tire. Stewart called NASCAR out on it as unsafe. NASCAR fined him, then turned around and changed the rule requiring all five be tight. So they are saying he is right and fining him $35k anyway. I’m not a scholar, but that makes nary a lick of sense.
Andy Cagle writes a weekly column during the NASCAR season. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.