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It Was A Big Day For Borneman’s Small Team

Nick Bromberg | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, April 28 2010

John Borneman III had a huge day at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

By Nick Bromberg | Contributing Writer
RacinToday.com

Running his own race team from the money that he makes from his construction company, John Borneman III can’t afford to run the full Nationwide Series schedule. And when he does enter a race, he knows that the first priority is to make the race, and then whatever good that happens from that is an added bonus.

“We just go (to Nationwide races) hoping to make the race. I would love to win a race or finish in the top 10, but we always know that reality is a top 20,” Borneman said.

So you can understand the reaction that Borneman and his crew chief Kevin Cram had after Sunday’s Nationwide race at Talladega. They finished fifth.

“For something like that to happen… just going there was a financial strap, to come out with a top-five finish was just an emotional day,” Borneman said.

“You hope and pray to get a top 20.”

Borneman said on television after the race that the fifth-place finish was like a win. But if you watched Sunday’s race, you know that finish wasn’t a fluke. Borneman ran with the leaders most of the day.

“It was a good weekend, the speedway itself is a lot of fun to race and you can definitely have a bad day real, real quick, but it was a lot of fun and we ran top 10 quite a bit of the day and I was like ‘Man, we’re alright!’ I just couldn’t get anyone to draft with me,” Borneman said.

Borneman has made 16 starts in portions of five Nationwide seasons, and when he does make a race, he can usually get Kurt Busch or Michael Waltrip’s crew to pit the car for him. But since the Nationwide race was postponed until after Sunday’s Cup race, the Cup crew guys had planes to catch, leaving Borneman with four crew members, including Cram, who was the tire changer.

Believe it or not, that might have actually helped Borneman.

“We only had four guys to pit the car, so we could only do gas or we could onle do tires. We were running sixth or seventh there on that long run, and when we had to come down pit road under green we lost the lead draft, and we were back with four guys which was probably a blessing because of that big wreck at the end,” Borneman said.

No, not the big wreck that saw Dennis Setzer’s car explode into a fireball on the last lap. The first big crash that took out Brian Scott, Colin Braun and others just past the start finish line on lap 114.

Because of all the carnage, Borneman ended up lining up 15th with three laps to go, and just missed the carnage on the ultimate lap.

As Borneman drove down the backstretch on lap 120, he told himself to go low and stick to the bottom. However, he was on the high side and couldn’t get down.

Borneman found himself on the back bumper of Jason Keller, and decided that he was going to push Keller to the start-finish line. That’s when he saw Brian Vickers, who was to the inside of him, start to spin.

“When I got up there I kind of glanced to the left and saw someone get sideways and I was like ‘oh no,’” Borneman said.

But Vickers spun down the banking, and Borneman slid by unscathed on the outside.

“And as we’re coming down the front stretch I ask (Cram) ‘Are we really fifth’?” Borneman said.

Yes, Cram excitedly confirmed, Borneman was fifth. Not bad at all for a team that only started race weekend with one set of tires.

“When we showed up I bought one set of tires. We ran four laps in practice and qualified on the same set of tires and raced on the same tires, so the left side tires were the ones I originally bought,” Borneman said.

The right sides were replaced after running over debris from the crash that involved Carl Edwards on lap 20. Those tires were from Waltrip’s no. 55 team, which saw their day end early when Waltrip got into the wall. After that pit stop, it was gas only the rest of the way.

But that’s the beauty of Talladega.

“Our best finish (until Sunday) was 16th at Iowa, we stayed on the lead lap all day. To come to Talladega, it’s the great equalizer and it gives everyone a chance,” Borneman said.

– Nick Bromberg is a former sports writer for the Kansas City Star and a frequent contributor to RacinToday.com

Nick Bromberg | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, April 28 2010
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