The weekend was slated to be a big one for Thomas “Moose” Praytor but between the heat in Indianapolis and the heat from former major leaguer Jon Lieber in Mobile it was smoking hot everywhere.
The Sioux Chief PowerPex 200 in Indianapolis is the beginning of stock cars weekend in Indianapolis that culminates with the running of the Brickyard 400. As a result teams bring their best and the best teams show up. Such was the case for Friday night’s 30 car field.
The best drivers with their best stuff at a place where the driver has a lot of input, that’s the way it should be.
For Praytor and his DK-LOK team they brought their best short track car, Black Betty and the Moose was right at home within laps of coming off the trailer.
During practice the team went through multiple changes ending up right where they started off, qualifying 20th.
With a good long run car Praytor’s goal was to keep pace in the opening laps and try to hang on to the lead lap.
With Austin Cindric burning up the track from the drop of the green flag, hanging on to the leaders proved tougher than expected.
Praytor slowly progressed through the field up to the 15th spot. The teams tire strategy put them on opposite ends of the leaders having the Moose come down pit road after the halfway point.
A simple tire change went wrong when a pit gun failed during the stop costing the team a valuable lap. The lost lap would doom the DK-LOK Ford to finish on a lap by itself rather than battling for position.
As the laps wound down Praytor’s machine worked back up to 17th and that’s all the team would have for Friday night.
“It was a really hot day in Indy and the sun took its toll on all of us. We had a really good DK-LOK Ford all day, we had a little problem on pit road with a gun that hurt us. I tried to get by Mike Basham in the last laps but he was moving pretty good and those guys had us covered at the end of the race. Time to get back in the truck and head to Mobile for Buddy Ball.”
The team checked in to Indy at 6:30AM EST, the DK-LOK Hauler cleared the gate at Lucas Oil raceway just past midnight, the Hauler pulled in to the Mobile shop at 3:30 CST, just in time for a shower and make the opening pitch for Buddy Ball at 4:30.
After a long night in the DK-LOK Ford followed by a long night in the hauler the Moose was dragging and still looking for fluids at Hank Aaron Stadium.
While the fluids helped, the competition including five former Alabama football players – Chris Edwards, Willie Gaston, Vic Lockett, AJ McCarron and Corey McCarron, former Major League Baseball pitcher and Mobile Sports Hall of Fame member Jon Lieber, former Daphne High School and Vanderbilt football standout Torren McGaster had Praytor on his toes.
“I was getting ragged pretty good from the dugout are, I’m not sure if it my teammates or my Dad but I was getting a lot of grief, so the pressure was on. Somehow I hit the ball every time I got up and I didn’t pass out running the bases so it was a good day.”
Praytor’s Red Team took it on the chin losing by a run in a close game.
The game was followed by a huge autograph session and a silent auction featuring a 4 pack of tri-oval tower tickets for the weekend to Talladega Super Speedway in the fall, with all the proceeds going to West Side Buddy Ball.
“It was really a fun day. Can’t thank Mr. Grant (Lynch) and the folks at Talladega enough for being part of today. It means a lot to us to have Alabama folks supporting you in what you do. Big weekend we’ll take Sunday morning off and be back in the shop Sunday night to get ready for Pocono.”