No. 21 ISM Connect Chevrolet Silverado
Johnny Sauter made his 20th Martinsville Speedway start from the third position for Saturday’s Texas Roadhouse 200. Battling a tight condition early in the race, Sauter maintained his position within the top five and finished the first 50-lap stage in the second position to gain valuable stage points. Sauter stayed on track under caution to start Stage Two in second, eventually taking over the race lead on lap 72 and opening up a three second lead on the field. He stayed in the top spot to pick up his eighth stage win of the season as the green-checkered flag waved on lap 100.
During the only pit stop of the day, Sauter brought the ISM Chevy to pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment, but a slow stop relegated the No. 21 to a seventh-place restarting position. Sauter used his experience at the famed short track to work through cautions and traffic, making his way back up to the third position with 50 laps to go. Still fighting a lack of center rotation, Sauter struggled to advance any further before the race end and finished the day in third for his 10th top-five and 16th top-10 finish of 2017.
“We had a good day just didn’t execute when we needed to. It’s unfortunate, but we had a fast ISM Connect Chevy. Joe did a good job; all the guys at GMS did a great job. We had a fast truck on that first run but that adjustment we made just wasn’t the right one I guess. Nonetheless, I still think track position is king. You get out in clean air and it’s dominant. I feel like anymore, everyone runs the same speed, so when you give up seven spots it’s pretty tough to overcome. But with that being said I’ve made plenty of mistakes myself, it happens, I can’t be mad about it. Despite it all, it was a good points day and we’re just getting started in what I believe is the part of the schedule that really plays into our strengths.”
– A big points day puts Sauter just three points behind NCWTS Playoffs points leader Christopher Bell.
No. 24 Zeality Chevrolet Silverado
Justin Haley made his fourth start at Martinsville Speedway from the 19th position after fighting a tight condition in Saturday morning’s qualifying. Struggling to advance through the field, Haley found himself in the 18th position as the first caution occurred on lap 39. Haley reported to the team that he needed more forward drive and brought the Zeality Chevy to pit road for right side tires, fuel and adjustments, before restarting 11th with six laps to go in Stage One.
Unable to gain position on the restart, Haley finished the first stage in 11th and stayed on track as other trucks pitted to line up sixth for the start of Stage Two. He relayed to crew chief Kevin Bellicourt that he needed more drive and more center rotation. Finishing the second stage in the eighth position, Haley pitted under caution for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment to prepare for the final 100 laps of the Texas Roadhouse 200.
Haley restarted from the 11th position, but two cautions in the first 40 laps prevented him from advancing into the top-10 as the Zeality Chevy continued to handle tight throughout the center of the turns. As the field closed in on the final laps of the race, Haley maintained his position in a 10-lap shootout to the checkered flag to pick up an 11th-place finish, his best result at Martinsville Speedway.
“We had a really fast truck but unfortunately we just didn’t have the drive needed to pick up track position when it mattered. Kevin made a great call to get up front early on, but at the start of the last stage we got shuffled back a few spots and I wasn’t able to pick up ground. Still, it was a really solid day for our team and we got our momentum heading back in the right direction.”
– Haley’s 11th-place finish is his best finish in four starts at Martinsville Speedway.
No. 33 ChargeCords.com Chevrolet Silverado
Returning to Martinsville Speedway for the fourth time in his NCWTS career, Kaz had his best showing at the half-mile paperclip, qualifying eighth and finishing seventh in his ChargeCords.com Chevrolet Silverado.
When the green flag dropped on the 200-lap race Saturday afternoon, Kaz settled into a top-10 running position. As the run continued, Kaz reported that he was fighting a Chevy Silverado that was tight in the center of the corner, but loose on exit. Remaining in the top-10 for the entirety of Stage One, Kaz finished the stage in sixth-place. Under the stage break, various pit strategies began to play out. After a miscommunication about strategy, and a pit road commitment line violation, Kaz ultimately came to pit road for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment to aid in his handling woes, before restarting at the tail end of the pack.
Fighting his way through the field, Kaz was able to race his way back to the 13th position after Stage Two. Kaz came to the attention of his pit crew under the stage break for four tires, fuel and another round of chassis adjustments to help his still tight ChargeCords.com Chevrolet. Restarting 10th for the final stage, Kaz spent the final laps racing his was to a seventh-place finish.
“I can’t say enough about my GMS Racing team. They gave me a fast ChargeCords.com Chevy that allowed me to be able to drive through the field, which is hard to do at Martinsville (Speedway). I just needed a bit more forward drive there at the end of the race to try get a top-five finish. It was a good day though and I’m looking forward to heading back to Texas (Motor Speedway) next weekend with some momentum.”
– After the 20th race of the season, Kaz is currently eighth in the NCWTS point standings