Thomas “Moose” Praytor’s return to Daytona was text book until something broke under the car on lap 6 of the Lucas Oil 200 and what had been a near perfect weekend got ugly in a hurry. After pitting during every caution Praytor was able to hang on to an 11th place lead lap finish.
Having missed the Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona in 2019, to make sure he was in Mobile for the birth of his son, Hugh Thomas Praytor the 5th (Five), Praytor was itching to get back to the World Center of Speed for the 2020 edition.
“Our guys in Mobile have been working on one car since October, we felt like we were taking the best car we’ve ever taken to the race track,” said Praytor.
The team eased through technical inspection with no major issues on Thursday and prepped for practice on Friday. The first practice went as planned with the Moose posting a 16th place time in the first session.
“Car was really good in practice we tried a couple of different setup changes and our AIDB Chevy really responded well. We broke a shifter at the end of the first practice, parked it for the day and started getting ready for qualifying.”
The parts of the weekend the team had control over went well, the things they didn’t, not so much. Another competitors tear off blew on to the nose of Praytor’s Chevy and ended up with a disappointing qualifying effort, 23rd.
“We didn’t get to start where we wanted to, but we knew we had a fast car and some fast friends close by and we were ready to race.”
With the drop of the green flag Praytor hooked up with Sean Corr and in the first half of the first lap the duo drafted from 23rd to 16th.
“The car we started the race with was incredible, I just knew we were going to have a good day.”
Back under green Praytor was able to hold the draft but the car started to “tighten” up, by lap 10 it just simply didn’t want to turn at all and the Moose started to lose the lead draft.
“So frustrating, we were awesome and within 10 laps we were junk.”
With every caution Praytor brought his AIDB Chevy to pit road for service. The team changed tires, rounds in rounds out, you name it they tried it but to no avail.
“The car just kept getting tighter and by lap 20 I was having to let off the gas to make it turn. The guys kept working under caution but nothing helped it. Most likely a piece of the suspension is broken or bent not allowing it to travel and let the car turn.”
200 miles later Praytor wrestled home his AIDB Chevy to an 11th place finish.
“It was a good finish but not how we would have liked to gotten there. The guys really worked their butts off on pit road but it just wasn’t meant to be today. Great to be back at the track, we’ll get her fixed for Talladega”.
Picture: Praytor coming off pit road during Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire at Daytona International Speedway.