The long 5 race road tour including Ohio, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin came to an end Friday night in the Montgomery Ward 200 at Madison International Speedway. Thomas “Moose” Praytor and his Mobile, Alabama team logged over 10,000 miles over the last 5 races saving the best finish for last.
The last couple of weeks the team failed to take full advantage of good race cars leaving spots and points on the table for competitors to take advantage of. With Madison so similar to Mobile, the Moose and the team were loaded for Badger in Wisconsin.
Over the last few races our DK-LOK Fords have been undergoing big changes under the chassis. While our results haven’t shown the gains, the stop watch has.
“We really have taken everything we thought we knew about set ups at each track and drastically changed them to get the right feel in the race car. If you had told me 5 weeks ago we would be where we are today I would have said no way. But starting with Toledo it’s really made a big difference.”
Off the trailer the Moose was quicker at Madison than in 2016. The team improved the driveability, put in some adjustability for when the sun went down and Praytor qualified 14th, the best of this 5 race road trip.
With a field full of Ilmors in front of the Mobile driver, Praytor new patience and conservation would be the key to a good night. The second issue was the crew.
With wedding, family obligations and Spring Break our all UNOH pit crew was light 4 guys headed in to the weekend. This seems to hit at Madison every year.
Like last year the team reached out for help and soon found it with Dick Doheny. Dick or as we call him “Bubba” drove for us some last year and is a great mechanic at the race track. Plus by the time we got to the weekend the 10 car had lost its driver and Doheny was then called in as a substitute.
Super Sub Bubba would start the race for the 10, make a few laps and then come gas the 9 for Praytor. Much in the same way Josh Reeves did for us last year. We then stole, excuse me borrowed the rest of the 10 car guys and we had a full team.
With the drop of the green flag the Moose did his job in the DK-LOK Ford and kept pace while conserving tires and brakes. The field would come for tires at lap 74 but Praytor was kept out trying to stretch tire wear and it bit the Moose.
Off sequence the leaders and everyone else was hauling the mail putting Praytor down a lap that was soon recovered with the lucky dog. Under caution many laps later Praytor was able to take tires and get moving again.
In the midst of all the old tire issues, Mike Basham who had an engine problem in practice came to life with new tires and quickly put Praytor in his rear view mirror.
Praytor took tires, Basham to the back. Basham took tires, Praytor to the back. This went on until 20 to go when Praytor had a final set to change while Basham’s were gone, advantage and spot to Praytor.
“Mike and I had a lot of fun racing each other tonight. I don’t know how many times we passed each other but it is always fun racing with someone you can trust.”
The DK-LOK Ford rolled home unharmed and 13th, the best of the 5 race road trip.
“You wouldn’t think 13th would be all that satisfying but we got all the spots we could get tonight, that’s something we haven’t done the last few races. Want to thank Dick and all of our part time crew for helping out, they did and awesome job. I think with what we’ve learned we’ve decided to take Betty to Iowa in 2 weeks. Really looking forward to being back home for more than a couple of days.”
The team has a weekend off before the Fans With Benefits 150 at Iowa Speedway on July 8th.