The season opener in Daytona left the Musselmans Big Cup Apple Sauce Team disappointed in the results but looking forward to Talladega. An equalized tire cost Josh Williams a solid finish in February but the team left Daytona knowing they had a car that could win.
The Little Team That Could made the one day turn around after Salem and unloaded their Musselmans Big Cup Apple Sauce Chevy on Thursday morning at Talladega Super Speedway for the General Tire 200.
Thursday is designed as an all day technical inspection day but under the leadership of crew chief Danny (DJ) Johnson the team was the first cleared by ARCA officials. While others struggled to get it right the Musselman Machine had a car cover on it by lunch time and was ready for practice on Friday morning.
In the only practice, the Musselmans Chevy timed in 13th fastest. “Practice backed up the car we had in Daytona and we knew we had a great Musselmans Apple Sauce Chevy for the race,” said Josh Williams. Group qualifying would have the team rolling off 14th for the General Tire 200.
With the green flag in the air and bad weather closing in on the track Williams stuck the spurs to his Musselmans Chevy and was moving to the front. By lap 25 Williams had his Chevy up to 6th, lap 30 5th, lap 35 4th.
Crew chief Johnson knew they had to pit before lap 50 and to be safe he teamed up with some drafting partners to make a green flag stop on lap 45. A big chunk of the field came on lap 44 causing a caution allowing the team to take fuel under yellow.
The Musselman Chevy would restart 5th and with a guiding hand from spotter TJ Majors the Chevy had musselled its way up to 3rd. With 13 to go Williams drove his Chevrolet into the lead for the first time. The two wide battle for the lead with Gus Dean was a seesaw affair with the lead bouncing back and forth over the closing laps.
With rough weather on the horizon the teams were informed by ARCA that if there was a caution it would end the race. With 3 laps to go, Dean and Williams were locked in a side by side battle with the lead changing hands every 100 yards. Williams had the lead down the Alabama Gang Superstretch down into turn 3 the outside lanes momentum gave Dean the lead by a bumper when the caution flag flew for the final time. The caution ended the race relegating Williams to a second place finish.
“Disappointed in the end but really proud of our family owned race team, our Musselmans Big Cup Applesauce Chevy was a hot rod. DJ Called a great race, TJ Majors did a great job from the roof.and our team performed on pit road. It was a good points day, we moved up a spot in the standings, really proud of our effort today.”
There are a few weeks off before the team continues its pursuit of the ARCA Championship at Toledo Speedway on May 22nd.
Picture: Josh Williams postrace interview on Fox Sports 1 with pit road reporter Kaitlyn Vincie.