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NXS: TriStar Motorsports Post Race Report AXALTA Faster. Tougher. Brighter 200 at Phoenix International Raceway


AXALTA Faster. Tougher. Brighter 200

Phoenix International Raceway

Date: Saturday, March 14, 2015


Race Highlights:


Blake Koch qualified 19th for the AXALTA Faster. Tougher. Brighter. 200 followed by Mike Bliss in 20th, David Starr in 25th and Cale Conley in 26th.


The AXALTA 200 included four cautions for 26 laps and seven lead changes among four drivers.


Mike Bliss finished the 200-mile race 20th, followed by David Starr in 21st, Cale Conley in 22nd and Blake Koch in 25th.

Mike Bliss Finishes 20th in the AXALTA 200

Mike Bliss started the 11th Annual AXALTA Faster, Tougher, Brighter 200 alongside teammate, Blake Koch, in the 20th position.  The No. 19 TriStar Motorsports Camry was experiencing tight conditions into turns one and three, causing Bliss to slip one spot to 21st by lap 12. As the event’s first caution fell for debris on lap 50, Bliss reports to Crew Chief Paul Clapprood that his Camry is “seriously” tight. Bringing the red and white No. 19 to pit road for some adjustments, Bliss restarted 23rd. The more wear Bliss’ Goodyear tires saw, the more loosely the Camry got.  By the next caution on lap 94, Bliss was marked in the 21st position. Contemplating on whether to pit or take “the wave around”, the No. 19 pit crew flew over the wall, at the last minute, to service the Camry.  The field prevailed on lap 101, with Bliss restarting 22nd. By lap 122 Bliss radioed that he “can’t turn the wheel until the car quits hoping” going in to turn one. The team continued to make adjustments, during the final two cautions, to help aid the “hop” Bliss was experiencing.  The final 30-lap run of the day, was the most balanced the car was for Bliss, which allowed him to advance one spot to finish 20th.


Start- 20th        Finish- 20th       Laps Led- 0      Points- 24 points


Driver QUOTE:  “I can’t thank my guys enough for all their work over the past week preparing the car from the West Coast.  The splitter was catching the track in turn one causing a hop in the car and made it loose, but Paul [Clapprood] and my crew made the proper adjustments to help the car in the long run.”



David Starr finishes 21st in the AXALTA 200

David Starr started the AXALTA 200 from the 25th position. Early into the race, Starr came on the radio and reported that his No. 44 Zachry Camry was tight in turns 3 and 4, so the team came to pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Starr was scored in the 20th position at the halfway point in the 200-lap race and was reporting that the car was good, just a little loose in the corners. When a caution flag was shown on lap 123, Starr chose to stay out and take the wave around. On lap 161, the No. 44 Zachry Camry was running 22nd and would advance one position to finish the race 21st.


Start- 25th     Finish- 21st     Laps Led -0      Points- 23 points


Driver QUOTE: “We had a good Zachry Camry for today’s race and the No. 44 Zachry crew did a great job making the necessary adjustments to help the cars handling. I am looking forward to heading to Auto Club Speedway next weekend!”


Cale Conley Finishes 22nd in the AXALTA 200

Handling problems plagued the No. 14 IAVA Team this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. Cale Conley showed speed in practice leading up to Saturday’s AXALTA 200, posting speeds in the top 20. The track slowed a bit on race day and Conley qualified his Toyota Camry in the 26th position, just barely missing a transfer spot into the second round of XFINITY Series qualifying. As the race got underway, Conley reported tight handling conditions. Crew Chief Eddie Pardue and the No. 14 IAVA Team spent each pit stop freeing up the car and Conley was able to pick up a few positions finishing the race in the 22nd position. 


Start- 26th        Finish- 19th       Laps Led- 0      Points- 22 points


Driver QUOTE: “Not the day that we wanted. The racecar was tight through the whole race. We tried to free it up a number of times, but the adjustments really only affected the restarts. I had to adapt to that and in turn, fought track positions. But we are improving each week. I won’t be the lapper much longer; I will be doing the lapping. On to California!”


Blake Koch Finishes 25th in the AXALTA 200

Blake Koch qualified 19th for the 200-mile race in the No. 8 Alliance Bio Energy Camry. Early into the race, Koch came on the radio and reported that he believed there was a plug wire loose under the hood. When the first caution flag was shown, Koch came down pit road for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment and then returned to pit road so the crew could check under the hood. Although power returned to the car on the restart, throughout the remainder of the race, Koch battled additional plug wire issues. Koch finished the race in the 25th position.


Start – 19th        Finish- 25th      Laps Led- 0      Points- 19 points


Driver QUOTE: “It has been a tough few weeks, but I can’t thank my crew enough for their hard work. Next week we head to Fontana and I am looking forward to racing 300 miles at Auto Club Speedway.”



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