Rain was once again a factor in NASCAR Nationwide Series racing this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway when qualifying was rained out on Thursday evening.
What was dodge starting position?
That put the No. 9 Hellman’s Dodge starting 11th based off Owner’s Points. That’s not a bad start, but when Kasey Kahne backed the primary car into the outside wall during the one pre-qualifying practice session, the team was forced to pull out the back-up car.
That put the tail on the field for Saturday afternoon’s green flag at the 1.5-mile track. By the end of the 200-lap event at Texas, the Hellmann’s Dodge passed enough cars to finish in 21st place.
Green flag drop
After the drop of the green flag, it took Kahne 20 laps to muscle the No. 9 to the 26th spot. Afterward, he quickly radioed in the car’s handling characteristics.
“It’s loose into the corner, but tight off,” he explained.
This condition remained the constant factor the Hellmann’s Dodge No. 9 suffered through most of the race. Team Director Kirk Almquist called for chassis and air pressure adjustments to correct the ill-handling car, which didn’t seem to respond. The back-up Hellmann’s Dodge had not seen any race track in a year, and with no practice laps on the car before the race, the Hellmann’s crew continued with adjustments through the course of the race.
The lead cars out front and in clean air were able to set a blistering pace and put half the field down one circuit by lap 50; including the No. 9 Hellmann’s Dodge.
“I know the car is a handful right now,” Almquist radioed to Kahne. “We’ll continue to work on it. Our goal is to finish the race in the top-25. That will help us in the points.”
The crew continued with their adjustments and Kahne moved in the top-25 in the closing stages of the race. He took the checkered flag in 21st spot, two laps behind the leader.
“We struggled today,” Kahne explained after the race. “As a team we’re used to unloading solid race cars and we had that with our primary Hellmann’s Dodge. The backup hadn’t seen the track in a while and we had absolutely no practice laps on it this weekend. The Hellmann’s crew did a good job getting a handle on it and I’m proud of them. We just need a little more time to get it dialed in.”
Once the checkered flag fell over Texas Motor Speedway there were only 14 cars left on the lead lap.
Kyle Busch won the race with Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer rounding out the top-three.
The No. 9 Ultimate Chargers team is currently 15th in owner points, 44 points out of the top-10.
The Nationwide Series continues on to Phoenix International Raceway next weekend.