After a solid showing in Charlotte on May 21st, Narain Karthikeyan brought the momentum with him to the Lone Star State. Karthikeyan had his best finish of the season when he ended the race in 11th place in the WinStar World Casino 400 at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday.
Following a strong performance during Thursday’s practice sessions, the No. 60 SafeAuto / Starbeast Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado hit the track later that afternoon for qualifying. Karthikeyan was the second truck to take to the track for qualifying, which put him at a distinct disadvantage as the hot Texas sun made the track considerably slower for the early qualifiers. Karthikeyan still managed to qualify in 19th spot for the race, just 0.6 seconds behind the pole sitter.
“We did a good job today considering it is basically our second race on a 1.5 mile oval. It is my best finish so far, but more than that, I gained much more confidence driving the truck and racing with the fast group of cars. I struggled a little bit with the restarts because I couldn’t get up to speed as fast as I wanted, but after a few green flag laps I could get in a rhythm and was faster than a handful of trucks in front of me,” said Karthikeyan.
Karthikeyan kept the 19th position for the first segment of the race, despite losing communication with his team because of a radio malfunction that was repaired after the first pit stop. During the next stint in the race, he was faster than the trucks in front and steadily made his way through the field up to 16th position. With the race running caution-free for an extended period of time, the crew of the No. 60 truck decided to make a green flag pit stop. Unluckily, as soon as Karthikeyan got out of pits there was a caution flag which caused him to go a lap down. Karthikeyan continually ran fast times through the final laps, making his way up to 12th position. On Lap 164, the No. 33 and No. 81 trucks got tangled down the backstretch and Karthikeyan eluded disaster as he narrowly missed the No. 81 truck when it slid down the track. In the final three laps of the race, Karthikeyan piloted the No. 60 truck into eleventh place, logging his best ever NASCAR finish.
“We are being very careful and really pulling the reins on Narain ... I know it sounds a bit conservative, but that approach will give us better results in the long run,” Starbeast Motorsports CEO, Miguel Abaroa said after the race. “I liked what I saw in the race tonight; we are building the foundation of a great future in NASCAR for him.”
Karthikeyan will race in six more NASCAR truck races this season. His next race will be at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis, Indiana on July 23, 2010. All of his races will be shown in India LIVE on NEO Sports.