Max Force Racing began its 20th Season of competition at the World Center of Speed in the Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200 driven by General Tire on Saturday.
After a career season in 2016 Thomas “Moose” Praytor and his Max Force Team rolled in to Daytona looking to capitalize on the momentum they created last season.
Technical inspection and practice went as planned with the Moose clocking the 8th fastest time in practice. A disorganized group in group qualifying had Praytor rolling off a disappointing 23rd.
With the drop of the green flag the Moose and spotter Tab Boyd, on loan from Joey Logano, quickly worked their DK-LOK Ford from 23rd up to 12th.
A caution on lap 20 gave the team its first big decision of the day, come in or stay out. The fuel calculations said the team would have to come in again if they brought the DK-LOK Ford to pit road and the team decided to keep Praytor on the track.
The decision moved the Moose up to 3rd behind the 78 and 98 of Mason Mitchell Motorsports. Back under green the trio was joined by Matt Tifft’s, Joe Gibbs Racing machine and the four cars quickly broke away from the field. (Pic above)
The four cars spent the next 30 laps nose to tail pacing the field until a timely caution flag on lap 50 let the DK-LOK Ford come to pit road for badly needed fuel.
With just a few cars using the same fuel strategy the team decided to pack the Ford full of fuel versus just enough to get them to the end of the race. The weight of the extra fuel would help pull the rear spoiler down out of the air giving the team and extra advantage back on the track.
Back under green Praytor had to be patient for the strategy to play out, the other cars would have to pit again before the end of the race moving the Moose, 78, 98 and 18 back to the front.
On lap 65 the DK-LOK Ford was drafting in the outside lane and the inside lane had a bump draft go wrong sending the 15 of Leilani Munter into the Moose’s left side door and the DK-LOK spinning and bouncing off other cars in to the infield grass in a plume of smoke, dirt and flying grass.
Praytor’s DK-LOK Ford was battered and bruised but it wouldn’t fire up, getting the Ford a ride back to the garage on a wrecker and the Moose a trip to the infield care center.
The team quickly went to work on the machine and had it ready to return to action but didn’t have a driver. Praytor’s CO2 levels were too high in the infield care center and they had him held up until those levels returned to normal.
Ed Pompa was involved in the same wreck but his Clemson car was done and the team recruited Pompa to finish the race. Pompa strapped in and just as the car was ready to return to the race the final caution flag flew and the race was called after a long red flag period ending this year’s Daytona race early.
“Our DK-LOK Team had a solid Speedweek in Daytona. We had speed all weekend and we showed we can run up front and compete with the biggest teams in the sport,” said Praytor. “We can’t do what we do without all the people in Mobile who support our race team. We had a record number of tire sponsors for Daytona this year, just incredible. Our all-volunteer UNOH crew had a good week and did a great job on our stop and getting our Ford patched back up to go back out. I appreciate Ed Pompa climbing in for me. Congratulations to our spotter Tab Boyd, he and Joey Logano won the Clash on Sunday, he does an awesome job. We have some work to do before Talladega but we’re really looking forward to putting on a show in front of our home state fans.”
Next up, Nashville on April 8th.