BY CHAD DARE
DAYTONA, Fla. —
Tilton native Rick Ren and Kyle Busch were in the perfect position to give the Toyota Tundra its 100th Camping World Truck Series victory at the Daytona International Speedway.
With just one lap or 2.5 miles left in the NextEra Energy Resources 250, Busch was running second behind Johnny Sauter when a major accident occurred on the front stretch, bringing out the caution and crushing the hopes of Ren and Busch.
“This race comes down to be in the right position at the end,” said Ren, the general manager of Kyle Busch Motorsports and the crew chief on Friday night for Busch. “Kyle had the No. 98 (Sauter) set up where he wanted him on the last lap.
“I just can’t believe the No. 98 would have outfoxed Kyle on that last lap.”
But, the fans at the Daytona International Speedway did get a chance to find out what kind of move Busch had planned for Sauter.
“I will show you next time,” Busch said. “I had a plan and the plan was about ready to take place and the caution came out.
“I thought I was in the perfect spot running second behind Johnny, was going to make a move on the last lap. Unfortunately it was only a 99-lap race today, we didn’t get the full 100 in.”
And 100 was the magic number on Friday night.
While Busch and Ren wasn’t able to give Toyota it’s 100th truck series victory in the Tundra, that honor went to Sauter.
“I wanted Kyle to have the 100th victory, maybe even a little for me,” Ren admitted. “To win the 100th Tundra race for Toyota would be awesome, and it would have been fitting for Kyle to win it, because he is kind of their guy.
“In the end, a Toyota still won it, which is good our manufacture. I just wish it would have been our No. 51.”
It was Sauter’s first victory at Daytona and his seventh victory in the Camping World Truck Series. It was also special for his family.
“I’m not going to lie, I was happy to see that caution come out at the end,” he said. “I’m just ecstatic to be in Victory Lane. My dad was here in 1978, the year I was born. Happy to have a Sauter back in Victory Lane at Daytona.”
Rounding out the top five on Friday night was Ron Hornaday Jr. in third, Justin Lofton was fourth and Jeb Burton finished fifth.
Ironically, while Ren has been the general manager for Kyle Busch Motorsports since 2010, this was the first time he has actually served as his crew chief in a Camping World Truck Series event.
“I’ve done a whole bunch of races and I’m always in the back, helping with support, but this was the first time I’ve called a race with him,” said Ren, who has won 43 truck races, including 27 at a crew chief. “Rudy (Fugle), who was our car chief and engineer last year, we are going to turn it over to him after this race. I just didn’t have anything go wrong on this first race with it being Daytona and being our biggest race. It’s good to teach a young guy.”
Busch ran in the top-five during all 100 laps, giving Ren, who has also won three truck series championships, perfect opportunities to not only teach Fugle what calls to make, but more than that.
“I was able to show him what to do, or how an older guy does it,” Ren said. “I wanted him to make some calls, but I also wanted to explain why we did the things we did.”
Putting on his general manager hat, Ren also pointed out that KBM got a 12th-place finish for Darrell Wallace Jr. and Joey Coulter wound up a disappointing 22nd after getting caught up in the final incident on the front stretch.
“All in all it was a good night,” Ren said.
And more important, the boss was also happy.
“The guys did a really good job at Kyle Busch Motorsports this winter of being able to prepare three really good trucks to come down here,” Busch said. “We had a late deal put together with Darrell and my deal, too.”
Ren and Kyle Busch Motorsports will be back in action today with Parker Kligerman qualifying third in the Bandit Chippers Camry for the Drive4COPD 300 Nationwide Series race at the Daytona International Speedway.
Trevor Bayne, the 2011 winner of the Daytona 500, claimed the pole position in his Ford Mustang for today’s Drive4COPD 300 at the Daytona International Speedway.
Bayne’s winning speed for the Nationwide event was 177.162 mph, while Sam Hornish Jr., also in a Mustang, was second at 176.869. This is Bayne’s first season with the No. 6 team that won the past two Nationwide Series Championships with Ricky Stenhouse jr.
“This group of guys, they’ve won two championships in a row and that’s for a reason,” Bayne said. “Ricky Stenhouse did them a ton of justice and he’s done a great job in that car, but I’m excited to be the guy driving it this year and we’ve started off with a bang here with the pole.
“It’s not a win yet, but it’s a good start.”
Rounding out the top-five in qualifying was Parker Klingerman in Toyota, Travis Pastrana in a Ford and Austin Dillon in a Chevrolet.
Danica Patrick, last year’s pole winner in the Drive4COPD 300 and the pole winner for this year’s Daytona 500, will started 12th in today’s race.
Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III announced plans to revitalize the track, originally built in 1959, and to reaffirm the Speedway’s moniker of being the “world center of racing.”
The proposed project is subject to approval by senior management of the International Speedway Corporation and pending several economic stability factors as well as construction design and costs.
The vision for the redevelopment places an emphasis on enhancing “the complete fan experience” according to an official Speedway release. It will begin with five expanded and redesigned fan entrances (called injectors) along International Speedway Boulevard.
Each injector would lead directly to a series of escalators that would transport fans to any of the three different concourse levels, each featuring a spacious and strategically-placed social “neighborhood” along the mile-long frontstretch. The 11 neighborhoods, each measuring the size of a football field, would enable fans to meet and socialize during events without missing any on-track action, thanks to an open-sightline design throughout each concourse and dozens of added video screens in every neighborhood.
“When we invest in our properties, there’s a certain value and it makes sense,” said Chitwood. “Wo as we talk here today, it’s about the next vision and opportunity, the things that are important to us.
“So as look back at 50 years, it helps us guide how we want to invest and look to the future and make sure that we take this vision, whether it’s the fans, the sponsors or the teams, everyone who comes to Daytona will have a story to tell.”
Chitwood said ISC would invest at least $250 million in reconstruction costs for the property, and he hoped the track could get some help from the state of Florida. There is not an exact timeline for the renovations, but Chitwood said it would not affect the Daytona 500, which is held in February every year.