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Oct 02, 2011 - 05:43 PM
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2011 Kentucky II: Brian Ickler NASCAR Truck Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on Oct 02, 2011 - 05:42 PM
2011 Kentucky II: Brian Ickler NASCAR Truck Race Preview

As Brian Ickler continues to search for a full-time ride in one of NASCAR's top three divisions, the 26-year-old driver has made a name for himself registering respectable finishes when called upon as Kyle Busch's replacement in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series stand-alone events.


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Saturday night's Kentucky 225 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta was a vintage Ickler performance. In just his third truck start of the 2011 season, the San Diego native kept the No. 18 Toyota Tundra in the top 10 all night, led 11 laps and brought home a solid fifth-place finish for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

"The Toyota Tundra was just a little bit free all night, but we were able to end the night with a solid finish," said Ickler, who registered his second top-five finish this season and sixth in 21 career Truck Series starts. "This team is in a battle for the owners' championship and I wanted to give them a solid run to keep them in the hunt. Unfortunately, the 2 truck ended in Victory Lane and we lost a few points. The guys did a good job of making improvements throughout practice and providing me with a fast Tundra for the race and Eric Phillips made good calls atop the pit box. I want to thank Toyota, Dollar General, M&M's, Flexco for their support of KBM. I'm looking forward to getting back in this No. 18 Tundra at Vegas in a few weeks."

Ickler, who rolled off the grid from the fourth position, made it three wide for the lead as the field reached the start-finish line for the first time. Off Turn 2, the No. 18 Toyota Tundra cleared Austin Dillon and Ron Hornaday Jr. to assume the race lead down the backstretch. The No. 18 remained on point when Ickler's teammate, Josh Richards, brought of the first caution of the race on lap four.

Hornaday Jr. and Dillon got back around Ickler shortly after the restart on lap 12 and the No. 18 Tundra settled into the third position. The KBM Tundra remained running third until the next caution occurred on lap 21. Ickler communicated to Phillips that his truck had been a little free during the early stages of the race. When pit road opened, Ickler brought his Tundra down pit road where KBM over-the-wall crew made trackbar and wedge adjustments, filled his No. 18 with fuel and returned him to the track in the fifth position.

The San Diego native continued to report that his Tundra was loose, especially in traffic, as he ran in the back half of the top 10 during the first 100 laps. Ickler had worked his way back up to the fourth position on lap 122 when Phillips called him down pit road under green-flag conditions for the final pit stop of the night. The KBM over-the-wall crew put right side tires on the No. 18 Toyota Tundra, filled it with fuel and returned their driver back to the track scored in the 12th position.

With teams on various pit strategies, Ickler slowly began regaining spots as the race progressed caution free towards the finish. On lap 143, the 26-year old had maneuvered his way back into the top five but was unable to advance further before the field took the checkered flag.

Hornaday Jr., the winningest driver in Truck Series history, picked up his 50th-career win. Dillon, who kept his spot atop the Truck Series driver point standings, finished second, .438-seconds behind Hornaday Jr. James Buescher finished third and Nelson Piquet Jr. came home fourth. Ricky Carmichael, Todd Bodine, Cole Whitt, Dakoda Armstrong and David Starr rounded out the top-10 finishers.

There were seven caution periods for 36 laps, with 13 drivers failing to finish the 150-lap race.

The No. 18 Tundra team now trails KHI's No. 2 team by 41 owner points with five races remaining on the 2011 schedule.

The next event on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule is the Oct. 15 Smith's 350 at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. ET with live coverage beginning with the NCWTS Setup show at 3:00 p.m. ET on SPEED. Ickler will be back behind the wheel of the No. 18 Tundra.

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