After 15-truck wreck, Kyle Busch roars to first truck win at Daytona (VIDEO)

2 Comments

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Kyle Busch timed his run for the lead perfectly, coming off Turn 4 at Daytona International Speedway to squeeze by and pass Timothy Peters in the final seconds of Friday’s NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series season-opening NextEra Energy Resources 250.

In his first career win in a Truck at Daytona, Busch beat Peters to the checkered flag by .016 of a second in the closest finish in a Trucks race at DIS and the eighth-closest finish in overall Trucks Series history.

“It sounds awesome but I’d love to be a Daytona 500 winner,” Busch said when asked how he felt to finally break through with a Trucks win at DIS.

The younger Busch brother will get that opportunity in the Great American Race on Sunday, going for his first win in the Sprint Cup season opener, although he’ll be starting from 37th position in the 43-car field.

“This now makes it where I’ve won four (races) here, one in ARCA, Nationwide, Cup and now Trucks,” Busch said of being the first driver in NASCAR history to earn wins in all four series at Daytona. “I’ve been trying to get that fourth one and finally got it.”

Peters tried to block, forcing Busch up the track to almost the outside retaining wall, but Busch never lifted and at the last second somehow found just enough extra horsepower to get past Peters. Busch called it was probably the biggest history in Kyle Busch Motorsports history.

“We’ve started the trifecta,” said Busch, who goes for a win in Saturday’s Nationwide Series opener as well as Sunday’s Daytona 500.

It was Busch’s 36th win in the Trucks series, and crew chief Eric Phillips’ 28th in the NCWTS, tying him with Rick Wren for most wins by a crew chief in trucks annals.

Johnny Sauter finished third, followed by Ryan Truex and Ron Hornaday Jr.

Sixth through 10th were Ryan Blaney, Jeb Burton, Joe Nemechek, Jimmy Weller III and German Quiroga.

As close and exciting as the finish was, it also was a race marked by a spectacular 15-truck crash in Turn 2 with 25 laps remaining in the 100-lap event (see video above).

It appeared from TV replays that Sean Corr got into the rear of Parker Kligerman, who was pushed into Mason Mingus, triggering the huge wreck.

The push from Kligerman turned Mingus hard to the right and plowed head-on into the outside SAFER barrier, spun and then hit the wall again with the back of his truck.

None of the drivers involved were injured, but nearly half the field was sidelined due to damage as a result.

The 15 drivers involved included Mingus, Kligerman, Corr, Ryan Sieg, Darrell Wallace Jr., John King, Brian Ickler, John Wes Townley, Brennan Newberry, Tyler Young, Chris Fontaine, Tyler Reddick, Ben Kennedy, Joey Coulter and Chris Cockrum.

For as much wreckage as there was scattered across the race track, the race was never red-flagged, with the overall yellow caution period lasting just six laps until all wrecked trucks and debris were removed by safety crews.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Cooper solidifies PWC GT presence with Callaway Corvette

Callaway, Cooper, Gill. Photo: PWC
Leave a comment

Pirelli World Challenge could use a “face” of the series from a driving standpoint, and American Michael Cooper is a good candidate to fill that role for 2018.

Cooper, 27, has won PWC Touring Car, GTS and, most recently the SprintX GT titles within the series and has quickly blossomed into one of the series’ top GT stars.

It’s been a rapid rise for the Syosset, N.Y. native, entering into a world filled with series stars and champions such as Johnny O’Connell, Patrick Long, Alvaro Parente and a host of others.

But under O’Connell’s tutelage, Cooper admirably filled the rather gaping shoes vacated by Andy Pilgrim at Cadillac Racing, steering the Cadillac ATS-V.R to multiple race wins in the last two years – including a sweep of this year’s season finale weekend at Sonoma.

Cooper and Jordan Taylor were the model of consistency in SprintX this year, winning once at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and surviving contact at Circuit of The Americas to take that title.

With Cadillac withdrawing its ATS-V.R program at the end of the year though, Cooper was left a free agent for 2018. Fortunately with one door closed another opened, in the form of the GM-blessed but full Callaway Competition USA effort with its Callaway Corvette C7 GT3-R that will come Stateside next year. Cooper and Daniel Keilwitz will be in the team’s two cars for the full season; the car was fully unveiled last week at the PRI Show in Indianapolis.

The Callaway is a proven commodity in Europe but couldn’t run in the U.S. unless the path was cleared by one of GM’s factory programs to end a direct, potential head-to-head competition.

Moving from the Cadillac to the Callaway Corvette should be a natural transition, Cooper said last week.

“It worked out incredibly well that GM decided to allow Calloway to run the car in the United States and it created an opportunity for me that wouldn’t have been there otherwise,” he told NBC Sports. “I talked to a lot of other GT teams and at the end of the day, I felt like this was the best direction for me to be competitive next year and to also continue furthering my career with General Motors.”

Indeed Cooper has graduated from the Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R in GTS to the Cadillac and now to the Callaway Corvette. Cooper hailed the Cadillac team for what they did for his career growth.

“Working with Cadillac Racing has been instrumental in developing my abilities both on and off the track,” he said. “So I’m definitely a much more well-rounded driver now and have a lot of experience in the World Challenge GT field, so I kind of know what to expect going into that first race and going into that first corner in St. Pete.”

As noted, the car’s success in Europe means it’s a well-oiled machine by the time Reeves Callaway has worked with PWC to bring it Stateside next year. And as Cooper explained, discussions had been underway for a bit of time to ensure his presence in this car and team.

“I think the car is going to be extremely capable. It’s already won championships and races in Europe. I think, in bringing it over here, we’re going to hit the ground running straight away,” he said.

“Calloway had wanted me to come drive for them in July or August. We always kept in touch since then, and there was a lot of work trying to put together a program before they decided that they were going to do a fully fledged factory program. So once they made that decision, I think the pieces were kind of in place already, and the conversations had been had to be able to say ‘You’re going to be our guy.’”

December is late for IMSA programs to get finalized, but it’s relatively early for PWC, with the season not starting until mid-March in St. Petersburg. An extensive testing program should follow, as Callaway establishes its U.S. base and infrastructure.

“It’s definitely early for a Pirelli World Challenge program to be announced in December when we start racing in March. So that’s very good,” he said. “But, the team has a lot of work ahead of them in terms of getting infrastructure set up here in the United States, because a lot of their racing program has been in Europe. So, there will be a testing program, but they have to get the infrastructure in place first. But, we’ll be well prepared for St. Pete, I’m certain of it.

“Last year was the first year when I could sit back, kick my feet up, and know what I was doing next year. So, to be able to have everything done and be able to announce it this early on makes my life less stressful and now I can just focus on preparing myself and my team for next year.”