No. 21 Allegiant Chevrolet Silverado
Johnny Sauter and the Allegiant Chevrolet team started from the 3rd position for Wednesday night’s UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Sauter fell back to the fifth position as the green flag waved and maintained his position while fighting a truck that was loose on entry and tight on exit. The tight-on-exit condition worsened as the teams approached the end of stage one, with Sauter falling back further to the ninth position.
Under caution for the complete of the first stage, crew chief Joe Shear, Jr., called his driver to pit road for four tires, fuel, and an air pressure and chassis adjustment. The No. 21 lined up seventh for the start of the second stage and Sauter gained three spots on the restart but ultimately began to struggle with the tightness on exit. With 20 laps remaining in stage two, Sauter told the team he needed a big adjustment to get through the final stage. He completed stage two in the seventh position before coming to pit road for four tires, fuel and another chassis adjustment.
Sauter lined up fifth for the start of the final 110-lap stage. He worked his way up to the second position on lap 139, battling for the lead before lap traffic slowed down his progress. Sauter held on to the third position until the final caution of the night on lap 196, setting up a green-white-checkered finish. Sauter spun his tires on the final restart, causing him to lose three positions on track to finish sixth.
“It seems like we are just struggling with our race setup lately. We were really good in practice and qualifying and when the rain came in we knew it would change the track a little but I didn’t expect for us to be that different. Thankfully we are really just looking for that second win to move us up in the playoff standings. I still feel like when we get to that final seven-race stretch we’ll be fine, but it would be nice to have a little bit of momentum leading into that. The No. 21 team did a great job improving the handling for the final stage tonight, we just really didn’t need that caution at the end.”
– Wednesday night’s sixth-place finish is Sauter’s sixth top-10 in nine starts at Bristol Motor Speedway.
– Sauter is second in the driver championship points, 42 points behind the leader, with one win and 10 playoff points.
No. 24 Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet Silverado
In his second start at Bristol Motor Speedway, Justin Haley began the UNOH 200 from the 12th position on Wednesday night. Running 11th when the first caution of the night occurred on lap 25, he reported to crew chief Kevin Bellicourt the he was really tight entry to center. Haley stayed on track and managed the handling condition to move into the top 10 with 10 laps remaining in the first stage.
Visiting pit road under caution, Haley told his team that the handling had been much better over the final green flag run in stage one. Bellicourt gave his driver four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment, with the Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevy lining up 12th for the restart. As the second stage went green, Haley once again worked his way back into the top 10. Running the fastest laps of the field, the 18-year-old began to work his way toward the top five with 15 laps remaining in stage two, but as the handling of his Silverado began to change he struggled to get past the eighth position.
Under caution before the final stage of the night, Haley pitted for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment telling the team his truck went from tight to loose during the second stage. He lined up eighth for the restart behind teammate Johnny Sauter and picked up three spots on the restart putting him within the top-five. Haley began to fall back in the field when his truck once again became loose. On lap 196 Haley made contact with another lap car bringing out the final caution of the day. Sustaining minimum damage, he came to pit road for four tires and to check for a tire rub before returning to the track in the 12th position.
Haley picked up on spot on the green-white-checkered to finish 11th, his best finish at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“We had a really fast Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet. The guys did a great job adjusting on it all night, we just ended up being way too loose at the end. The consistency we’ve shown the last few weeks is still there, so we’ll get a plan together and keep building toward a win down this final race stretch.”
– Haley is now 11th in the driver championship standings.
No. 33 ChargeCords.com Chevrolet Silverado
Fighting handling issues throughout both practice sessions Wednesday morning at Bristol Motor Speedway, Kaz’s No. 33 ChargeCords.com team worked vigilantly to fix the problem, and did so on the last run of final practice. Using qualifying to continue to tweak on the setup, Kaz secured an 11th-place starting position for the UNOH 200.
Just as the NCWTS field was getting ready to strap in for 200 laps, a rain shower came through, delaying the start of the race for a couple hours. Not knowing what to expect with the change in track conditions, Kaz used the first couple laps to get acclimated. Fighting an extremely loose ChargeCords.com Chevrolet Silverado throughout stage one, crew chief Jerry Baxter called Kaz down pit road from the 14th position on lap 57 for four tires, fuel, and both a track bar and air pressure adjustment to try to tighten him up.
With varying pit strategy taking place, Kaz restarted 18th. However, as the laps began to wind down in stage two, Kaz reported that his engine didn’t sound right. Making it to the stage two break, the problem began to worsen. Bringing his ChargeCords.com Chevy to the attention of his team on pit road on lap 113, a mechanical issue was discovered, ending his night early with a 28th-place finish.
“Today felt like an uphill battle. We we’re fighting issues throughout practice with the front nose of the truck but finally figured it out on the last run of final practice. We had speed at the start of the race but I was just too loose to really be aggressive. Obviously this isn’t how we wanted our night to end but some things are just out of our control. That’s racing. We’ll move on and get ready for one of my favorite tracks, Canadian Tire (Motorsports Park).”
– After the 14th race of the season, Kaz is currently 12th in the NCWTS point standings, but has one win and five bonus points towards the playoffs.