After two DNFs to start the season Thomas “Moose” Praytor and his DK-LOK Team were looking forward to the friendly confines of Salem Speedway and the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200.
“We have so many laps at Salem plus we had our best car we really felt good after being beat up the in the first two races.”
While the DK-LOK team was ready for a good weekend Mother Nature had other plans with a deluge on Saturday morning that flooded the racetrack.
ARCA officials cancelled qualifying, pushed back the schedule and with a little help from upstairs teams were able to get a solid hour of practice in on Saturday afternoon.
“We had a solid practice, old Black Betty never missed a beat. We chased the track just a little going from green (rubber washed off during rain) to really blacked in. I think we missed our gear selection a little which hurt us on the short run but would come back and help us during the race.”
With qualifying rained out the field was set by practice times and the Moose would roll of 16th.
“We made a lot of changes to our DK-LOF Ford anticipating the track changes with more rubber being laid down during the stock race before us and the rubber build up with the ARCA cars, it really paid off.”
With the drop of the green flag Praytor was on conserve mode trying to save tires at the old abrasive track. After an early caution at lap 20 the race took on a green flag look going over 100 more laps without a caution.
The Moose who grew up turning laps at another old track, Pensacola’s 5 Flags Speedway was waiting for them. On que at lap 80 Praytor turned the wick up and the cars running away from the DK-LOK Ford quit moving forward and started coming back.
“I love old wore out tracks because it equals the equipment playing field and it turns into a driver versus driver event.”
With the IImor advantage gone, body advantage gone, weight advantage gone, for the first time since Daytona Praytor was on an even playing field with the rich kids. The 27 year old ARCA Ironman put on a clinic for racing on old tires.
By lap 90 the Moose was passing top 10 cars by lap 100 he was in the top 5 and was now lapping himself from other top 10 cars.
“I had a lot of fun passing cars then I had even more fun lapping them.”
At first the kids struggled to keep Praytor behind them, then they were getting out of his way while being lapped. The Moose rumbled up into the top 10 before the caution flag flew at lap 126 then the weirdest thing happened, the DK-LOK Ford just quit.
“At first I thought we had an electrical issue, then I realized we were out of gas.” A normal gas load should have taken the team to lap 150 or so. “This is the first time this fuel cell has been run since it was inspected, we obviously have something going on inside there we need to get fixed.”
The safety truck got to the stranded DK-LOK Ford quickly but not quick enough to keep from giving up valuable laps earned under the long green flag run and a top 10 finish was gone.
For the rest of the race Praytor held his 14th spot and brought the DK-LOK Ford home without a scratch.
“It’s amazing how clean our car is with all the racing forwards and backwards we did today. Nice to load one up without a wrecker, ready to be back home in Talladega.”
Short week for team DK-LOK as the ARCA teams report to Talladega Superspeedway Thursday morning at 6:00AM for General Tire 200 on Friday afternoon live on Fox Sports 1.
Picture: Moose rumbling past Cunningham Motorsports Shane Lee during the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 at Salem Speedway.