Concord, N.C. (September 11, 2016) – John Wes Townley learned what it’s like to go from the penthouse to the outhouse in a matter of seconds during the final restart in the running of Saturday night’s ARCA Eddie Gilstrap Motorsports Classic at Salem Speedway in Indiana.
It appeared that Townley and crew chief Kevin Reed had played pit strategy to perfection when the night’s final caution waved on lap 161 that came with just three cars, including Townley’s No. 05 Jive Communications Chevrolet, on the lead lap.
Townley ducked onto pit road for four new sticker tires, while Christopher Bell and Josh Williams were relegated to a two-tire stop (ARCA has a six-tire rule; Bell and Williams had pitted for four tires early in the race, while Townley took two).
Bell and Williams lined up on the front row with Townley ready to pounce from third on fresher rubber on the abrasive half-mile track.
But as the field rolled to the green, Williams’ suffered a gear failure as his No. 6 didn’t fire creating a mini-pileup on the inside line. When the dust settled, Townley’s No. 05 had significant nose and left-rear damage. The 26-year-old Georgia driver was relegated to limping around for the final 33 laps with a battered Chevy as he nursed his racer home to a fifth-place finish.
“That was a tough one to swallow,” Townley said. “We were in the catbird seat. Our guys gave me a great car. All we had to do is come up to speed on that last restart and I’m confident I could have worked my way to the front.
“But you can’t take anything for granted in this business. Josh came over and apologized for the issue with his car. But that’s the way it goes.”
Townley will now shift his attention to Joliet, Illinois and Chicagoland Speedway. He’ll compete in Thursday night’s ARCA race and Friday evening’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event on the fast, 1.5-mile oval just south of Chicago.