Johnny Sauter No. 21 Allegiant Chevrolet Silverado
Johnny Sauter qualified in the third position for Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race at Kansas Speedway. Five cautions throughout the first 40 laps prevented Sauter from getting a good read on the handling of his No. 21 Allegiant Chevrolet; however, he reported to his team that he was tight in traffic and asked for four tires and an adjustment to loosen him up for the next run. Following his first visit to pit road on lap 42, he restarted eleventh with four fresh Goodyear tires, behind several drivers that pitted for just two. He quickly entered the top 10 as the field returned to green, but his handling became too free and he was not able to advance his position into the top five until 10 laps before the end of the second stage at lap 80. Sauter started the final stage from fourth place. He remained in the top five for the final 87 laps, eventually advancing into the second position with less than five laps to go, but didn’t have enough time to catch the race winner. The Necedah, Wis., native brought home his fifth top-five result at Kansas Speedway and third consecutive top-three finish of the season-to-date.
Quote “I just felt like traffic was really tough to manage. My lap times would vary and if I caught a lap truck it was tough to keep momentum up and pass. I called for an adjustment to free it up and I should have known with my experience here that the track was going to free up as the night went on. We were way too free the middle part of the race and we finally got it back to handling where we needed it to on the last run. Second’s good. I’m happy. Everybody at GMS is doing a great job. I felt coming in that we were going to be better than that but I put that on myself. So all-in-all a great night, truck’s in one piece and we’ll go on to Charlotte.
“I have nothing to complain about. I felt like we had the dominant truck at Daytona and probably the most dominant speedway racecar I’ve ever had in my entire life. Atlanta was great for us, we ran third, and Martinsville I felt like we had the truck to beat and pit strategy kind of nipped us in the bud a little. But we still finished second and we finished second tonight. So, I have nothing to hang my head at. The team is doing what they need to do. I feel like tonight was on me a little bit, I just didn’t give the right feedback and that’s the aggravating part. There’s definitely areas we can improve but we are in a good place and I’m happy about where we are.”
Additional Info – Sauter continues to lead both the driver and owner point standings following the fourth race of the 2017 season
Justin Haley No. 24 Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet Silverado
Having never made a start on a 1.5-mile track prior to this weekend, Justin Haley drew attention as the fastest driver in the first practice session on Thursday at Kansas Speedway. He spent final practice working on race runs and ended overall second on the speed chart for the day. Haley advanced to the final round of Friday’s qualifying session, earned a 12th-place starting position for 167-lap event. The 18-year-old fought a tight-handling Chevrolet throughout the first stage of Friday night’s race. Crew chief Kevin Bellicourt called for two tires and a slight adjustment, expecting the track to free up into the night and allowing the rookie driver to advance his position into the top 10. Haley restarted in the eighth position and advanced as high as sixth before his handling became too free, forcing the No. 24 to fall back to eleventh just before the conclusion of stage two. The Fraternal Order of Eagles team continued to work on the handling during two additional stops to allow Haley to battle within the top-10 for the final 30 laps. The Winimac, Ind., native earned a ninth-place finish for his first top-10 of the season and his 1.5-mile debut.
Quote “The No. 24 Fraternal Order of Eagles team did a great job tonight. Kevin (Bellicourt, crew chief) and the guys did a great job making adjustments throughout the night, allowing me to battle hard for position there at the end. This race was all about learning and I’ve got a lot to take away and apply as we move forward at some of these tracks where I’ve never competed. I leaned on Johnny really hard this weekend for advice and watched what he did during practice, just trying to learn how to use the draft and move around the track to find speed. Kevin Hamlin did an amazing job guiding me through traffic and telling me where to run to improve my lap times. I’m happy with what we were able to accomplish and to get a top-10 in my first start at a larger track feels great. We’ll improve on this and keep making gains to do a little better each week.”
Additional Info – Haley’s ninth-place result is the second top-10 of his NCWTS career, and first with GMS. – After missing the first two races of the season due to age restrictions, Haley is now 19th in the driver point standings.
Kaz Grala No. 33 Kiklos Chevrolet Silverado
Making only his second NCWTS 1.5-mile start this weekend at Kansas Speedway, Kaz spent both practice sessions Thursday trying to get acclimated to the track. He went on to finish the day 13th and third-fastest in each session, respectively, and with a bit more confidence heading into race day.
Qualifying sixth for Friday night’s race, Kaz struggled from the wave of the green flag with a loose Chevrolet Silverado. With multiple cautions occurring consecutively in the opening stage, crew chief Jerry Baxter ultimately changed his pit strategy and called the No. 33 Kiklos Chevy down pit road under caution on lap 27. Calling for major adjustments to tighten the truck up, as well as four tires and fuel, Kaz restarted 26th and worked his way up to a 13th-place finish in stage one.
With the pit strategy in stage one, Baxter elected to keep Kaz on the track under the stage break, allowing Kaz to restart third. As the green flag run ensued, Kaz continued to struggle with the handling of his No.33 Kiklos Chevrolet, that had now swung from loose to tight, but he ultimately was able to hang on to finish 13th in stage two.
Hitting pit road under the stage break, Kaz came in for four tires, fuel and adjustments. However, Kaz slid through his pit box on the pit stop and was forced to back up before work could begin, losing valuable track position. Restarting 16th, Kaz leaned on veteran spotter Eddie D’Hondt to help him search through a good portion of the last stage to find the line that worked best for his Kiklos Chevrolet. It wasn’t until after his final pit stop on lap 129 that Kaz’s truck really came to life. Using the high lane in turns 1 and 2, and the low lane in 3 and 4, Kaz rallied his way back through the field to grab an eighth-place finish in his first start at Kansas Speedway.
Quote “I’m glad that we were able to come home with the finish that we did tonight. My spotter Eddie (D’Hondt) was able to help me find the best line to run, and by the end of the night I had the high line working pretty well. I just never could get my truck to have speed on the bottom like everyone else. “I made mistakes tonight and I think we could have had a better finish, but it was a decent night at a track I have never run on before.”
Additional Info – After the fourth race of the season, Kaz is currently sixth in the NCWTS point standings, 57 points behind the leader, but has one win and five bonus points towards the playoffs.