No. 21 Allegiant Chevrolet Silverado
Johnny Sauter and the No. 21 Allegiant team qualified in the seventh position for the Overton’s 150 at Pocono Raceway, but dropped to the back of the field at the start of the race due to unapproved changes. By lap six, Sauter was running in the 13th position and battling a tight-on-entry handling condition. Despite the tight condition he had no issue passing other trucks and worked his way up to the 11th position by the end of stage one.
Crew chief Joe Shear, Jr., brought his driver to pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments to help the tight condition that had started to affect his corner exit. He restarted from the 17th position on lap 20 and drove back to just outside the top 10 before pitting early under green on lap 27 for right side tires and fuel.
Staying out under caution as the second stage ended, Sauter took over the race lead and remained up front until the last caution and restart of the day on lap 44. He reported to the Allegiant team this his Chevrolet had gotten too tight as he dropped back to the fifth position in the final 16 laps.
Sauter crossed the stripe in fifth for his eighth top-five finish of the season.
“We had a really fast Allegiant Chevrolet this weekend. Pocono is a place I’ve always struggled but I feel like we had it figured out today, we were just too tight there at the end and I didn’t have the speed I needed to hold on to the lead. I’d feel more comfortable as we inch closer to the playoffs if we had another win, but this team has been doing an amazing job and I feel like we’re making improvements and learning all we need to for these final 11 races.”
– Sauter is second in the driver championship point standings with one win and 10 playoff points.
– 2017 stats at halfway in the season: 1 win, 8 top-fives, 10 top-10s
No. 24 Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet
Justin Haley and the Fraternal Order of Eagles team qualified in the 14th position at Pocono Raceway, but ultimately started from the back of the field due to unapproved adjustments. Haley, who led first practice and was the previous night’s winner in the ARCA Racing event, quickly made his way through the field following teammate Johnny Sauter. As he reached the end of the first stage on lap 15, Haley reported he was happy with the handling of the No. 24 Chevrolet and had no problem passing in the turns.
Crew chief Kevin Bellicourt brought his driver to pit road from the 13th position on lap 16, for four tires and fuel, returning to the field in the 16th position for the start of stage two. Haley advanced in to the top 10 but the team chose to pit early under green for right-side tires and fuel, electing to stay out under caution at the end of the second stage.
Haley took over the fourth position as the leaders came to pit road and held position within the top 10 for the first two laps under green before making contact with the No. 51 truck on lap 37. He visited his team on pit road to repair minor damage to the left front and returned to the field in the 17th position. He steadily worked his way back in to the 10th position where he crossed the line for his eighth top-10 finish of the season.
“We had a really fast Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet. We were decent in practice and had so much speed in qualifying, but unfortunately had to start at the back. We were able to get to the front pretty quick and Kevin (Bellicourt, crew chief) made a great call to pit early under green to get some track position. I just made a mistake there toward the end. I hate it for our team to mess up what could have been another top five, but even more messing up someone else’s day like that. We’ll just look at it as another learning experience and keep working.”
– Haley is 12th in the driver championship point standings, with 1 top-five and 8 top-10 finishes in 10 starts this season.
– With his 10th-place finish at Pocono, Haley has earned seven consecutive top 10s.
No. 33 Kiklos Chevrolet Silverado
Aiding in the learning curve of visiting Pocono Raceway for the first time in his career, Kaz pulled double duty this weekend running in both the ARCA race Friday night as well the NCWTS race Saturday afternoon. Using what he learned from the extra laps behind the wheel Friday in ARCA, Kaz applied the little bit of extra experience to NCWTS practice, finishing session one third-fastest and a rain-shortened final practice fourth-fastest.
With weather moving through overnight, track conditions were much different than teams originally expected heading into qualifying. Fighting an overly tight No.33 Kiklos Chevrolet Silverado in both rounds of single-truck qualifying, Kaz qualified 11th for the Overton’s 150 at the “Tricky Triangle.”
Making his way into the top-10 running order during stage one of the 60-lap race, Kaz radioed to his GMS Racing crew that his Kiklos Chevy was tight getting to the throttle in the corners, especially in Turn 3. Holding on for a 10th-place finish in the first stage, Kaz came to pit road under the break for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to try aid in a still tight Chevy. However, slight issues on the right side during the pit stop forced Kaz to restart 14th when the field went back green on lap 20. Racing his way back inside the top 10 within a couple laps, Kaz would go on to finish stage two in the seventh position.
Wanting to keep track position, crew chief Jerry Baxter called the rookie down pit road under the stage break for two tires, fuel and another round of adjustments to continue to loosen the No. 33 up on throttle. With varying pit strategy taking place, Kaz lined up 13th for the lap 35 restart. Trying to fight his way back inside the top 10, Kaz was caught up in an accident with two other competitors on lap 41. While the Kiklos team tried to make repairs to keep Kaz in the race, the damage sustained was too much, ending his day with a 23rd-place finish in his NCWTS Pocono debut.
“Today’s race was shaping up to be one of our best races overall this season. We unloaded fast and I adapted well to the track after being able to run the ARCA race. We may not have won the race today, but we were definitely on pace for a top-10 finish. Unfortunately, our day didn’t end that way and bad luck got us again. There wasn’t much I could do. I can’t hang my head though. One of my weaknesses all season has been restarts, and I nailed them all today. I just wish our luck could turn around so we can start getting the finishes we deserve.”
– Kaz qualified on the pole for Friday night’s ARCA race and led the field for half the race before ultimately finishing fourth.
– After the 12th race of the season, Kaz is currently 11th in the NCWTS point standings, but has one win and five bonus points towards the playoffs.