A rookie move by a veteran driver brought an early end to the day for 15-time AMA Champion Ricky Carmichael and his Monster Energy Chevrolet team in the CampingWorld.com 200 at Gateway International Raceway.
Carmichael was immediately comfortable with the truck his Turner Motorsports crew brought to Gateway in his practice sessions and, though he knew it wouldn’t bring him a high-qualifying position, he was very excited to get behind the wheel for the start of the race. A power outage at the track delayed the race, causing the driver and crew to face sweltering heat and far different track conditions than they originally planned for, but Carmichael was solidly prepared to make his second start at Gateway.
When the first caution flag of the day flew at lap 12, Carmichael had gained four positions and reported to his crew “this thing is awesome – the truck is really good. The only thing we need right now is track position.”
Carmichael continued to pick up positions, often running lap times faster than those drivers ahead of him and, by the second caution at lap 49, had broken into the top-10.
Carmichael brought his Monster Energy Chevrolet to the attention of his crew for four tires, a very minor air pressure adjustment and fuel. Unfortunately, a pit road error involving the fuel can leaving the pit stall forced Carmichael to bring the No. 4 back down pit road to serve a penalty. Crew Chief Mike Fritts opted to top him off with fuel and send him back out, well prepared to race his way back into contention. He re-started the race on lap 56 in the 18th-position.
The caution was displayed once more 16 laps later. In an effort to regain valuable track position, Carmichael took right-side tires only. He endured minor contact with the No. 88 on pit road, but was assured by his spotter and team that there was no damage. Confident in his truck, he re-started the race on lap 77 in the 13th-position, poised to continue to move his way up the leader board.
His strong run was short lived as Mike Skinner turned him into the wall on lap 81, completely demolishing the rear end of his Chevrolet. With little banking at the track, Carmichael rolled back down and received a hard hit from Jeffrey Earnhardt, causing both trucks to go to the garage. The Monster Energy team was left with a 29th-place finish and a determination to start racing the competition the same way they are raced.