Oakley's Ricky Carmichael Launches Stock Car Career
Ginn Racing development driver Oakley’s Ricky Carmichael made his stockcar debut Saturday night at Columbia Motorsports Park in Lake City, Fla. Under the watchful eye of his Nextel Cup points leader and mentor Mark Martin, RC finished third in his heat race, and ran very well in the feature before losing his right front tire and hitting the wall on lap seven of the 25lap feature race. Although the night ended a bit sooner than expected RC made some great advances in his knowledge of car set up and feels confident that he will be able to leave this race with more experience and understanding of his new venture.
After a solid heat race, Carmichael started the feature inside of the third row held his own in the early going, before getting tangled up in an accident on lap two. A car checked up in front of Carmichael, giving him nowhere to go with his No. 4 Chevrolet, sending RC’s car airborne. Carmichael was able to recover from the incident and continue, even holding position for the next several laps, before a debris caution flag flew because of the RC tangle. RC’s car appeared to have sustained a bit of damage from the contact on the restart with him dropping back a few spot’s, before losing the right front tire and hitting the wall.
"I came off of two and got a good run, but the No. 8 car kind of came in on me and I just had no where to go, I ran into the back of him and kind of got my car up at an angel and it slammed down and from that point on I felt like I was just pretty much in the way; it just kind of all went backwards from there."
"I think we got the car working really well for him by the feature and he was really fast. He just had a couple of unfortunate incidents there. Part of it is racing and part of it will be more avoidable as he gets more experience and a better feel for what the cars around him will do."
"I learned every time I got behind the wheel what it was like to race as opposed to testing. Seat time was the big thing for me. I wish we could have fixed it up and got back out and race another race, but this is part of it. "
"The main thing is that I have the abilities and I have the concept and sometimes that is the hardest thing, It’s just disappointing to me because what you didn’t want to happen (to fall out of the race) – happened, but there is always another weekend and that is the great thing about racing."
"It’s really, really fun for me, it’s a great challenge and I learn something new every time I do it. It’s just for the competitive side of me it’s frustrating. Like I said, I want to do it again now, because I’ve learned so much and I want to keep it going, but we have to wait until next time."
"I had a great night and I just had a blast, I’m incredibly proud of Matt and Ricky and the way they drove tonight. I really love coming out here and helping with this thing and working with these guys and helping Ricky to make the transition."
"Ricky has another race coming up in a few weeks. We are going to continue to step up the challenge and the competition and we have a good plan laid out for him."
"Ricky Carmichael is spectacular and he’s going to really be able to do this thing."
Mark Martin, will see his streak of 621 consecutive starts come to an end after this weekend as the Nextel Cup point leader. By not showing up to the Nextel Cup start line, instead rather showed up to the local back woods round track of Lake City, FL to mentor his new Oakley Protégé.
Carmichael will get behind the wheel again on April 21 and April 28 at New Smyrna Speedway.