Thomas “Moose” Praytor and his Mobile, Alabama based team have seen good and bad runs at the ARCA Series home track in Toledo, Ohio, with a stacked field of cars Praytor and his DK-LOK team knew they would have their hands full.
Weather once again dominated the weekend with teams dodging rain in route to the Speedway and once on the ground in Toledo.
The first lap of practice was an indicator of what kind of weekend the DK-LOK Ford had ahead when a fellow competitor hit the Moose in the driver’s side door ripping the front fender off the Ford.
“There is always a big field of bad ass cars at Toledo and you know it’s going to get physical but dang, we hadn’t even made lap.”
The damage to the DK-LOK Ford was minimal but the tone was set for the weekend.
Later in practice Praytor was behind the 80 of Brian Finney when he suddenly slowed on the race track. Initially Praytor checked up then went around the wounded Finney machine to see it was on fire.
“Hated to see that happen to the Finney’s. They are a great racing family and have been great friends and competitors. Glad Brian is OK and I hope they get back to the track really soon.”
With the most eventful practice of the year in the rear view mirror Praytor and his team got ready for qualifying. Mother nature took over washing out the rest of the afternoon, the field would roll off by practice times, the DK-LOK Ford 21st.
Race day in Toledo is big even when the weather is not cooperating and a big crowd showed up for autographs before the race.
“As one of the guys that’s been around the longest now it’s fun seeing the some of the same people at certain tracks that are following you all year long.”
Rain pushed the start of the Menards 200 back an hour a so but the wait was worth it as the ARCA drivers put on a a 2 wide, 3 wide and even 4 wide thrill show for the next 2 hours.
With the drop of the green everyone was grabbing for all they could get with no one expecting the race to make 200 laps. The Moose picked up 4 spots on the track and stayed in a spirited battle for more until the first caution on lap 45.
Smart money had rain moving back in before 200 laps and the front runners took tires thinking they were racing to lap 100. Praytor stayed out.
“We felt like our best shot was to hang on until around 50 to go and catch the leaders with old tires.”
Under green Praytor was working hard to stay on or near the lead lap holding each position, looking for cautions to save his tires.
“I knew I was supposed to be saving tires but these guys were racing hard and we got in there and mixed it up having a blast.”
Mixing it up was an understatement with Praytor spending the bulk of the race side by side and at points 3 wide or even 4 wide.
In order for the teams tire strategy to work timing was the key. You wanted tires soon enough to keep from going a lap down and late enough to be effective against the top 10.
“We missed out tire window by 1 caution and we stayed green too long costing us a lap and keeping us from getting to mix it up with the top 10.”
After a wild 200 laps Praytor brought the DK-LOK Ford home 14th, a little battered and bruised but it will be ready for Elko in 2 weeks.
“We had a shot at a little better finish today it just didn’t work out. Solid day for our race team, especially considering my track record at Toledo. Crazy racing on the track it’s been that way all year and it will get even wilder at Elko.”
Team has a week off before heading to Elko Speedway in Minnesota for the Shore Lunch 250.
Picture Top: Moose racing hard with 8 time Daytona Champion Bobby Gerhardt, the duo are clearing a 3 wide move going in to turn one.