NO. 21 Allegiant Chevrolet Silverado
Johnny Sauter, driver of the No. 21 Allegiant Chevrolet Silverado, was fastest in round one of single-truck qualifying at the newly repaved and reconfigured Texas Motor Speedway Friday afternoon. He earned a second-place starting spot, starting the race on the outside of the front row. Sauter immediately dropped back to the seventh position after struggling to find an opening to get in to the bottom, and under the first caution on lap four, he reported to the team that he was really tight and the track had no grip up top. He restarted on the bottom and began to work his way back to the front, taking over the race lead on lap 19. He completed the first stage in the first position and came to pit road for two tires and a chassis adjustment before returning to the track as the leader for the start of the second stage.
Sauter maintained the lead until lap 69 when his Chevy began to tighten up once again. He settled into the third position with just five laps remaining before the break. Crew chief Joe Shear, Jr., brought his driver in for four tires, fuel and an adjustment at the stage conclusion and relayed that there was an issue with the left front tire that had caused him to tighten up at the end of that run.
Sauter visited the Allegiant team for the final time under caution on lap 119, taking four tires and restarting in the ninth position behind several trucks that took just two. He worked his way up to the sixth position with less than 20 laps remaining. The Necedah, Wis., native was well on his way to his sixth consecutive top-five finish when contact from the 22 truck put him sideways on the frontstretch. He was able to straighten out the No. 21 with only slight contact with the wall, but the incident created a chain reaction throughout the field resulting in a red flag condition. As the race ended under yellow, Sauter brought the Allegiant Chevrolet across the start-finish line in the eighth position.
“We had a great Allegiant Chevrolet tonight. It started out great and we had a lot of speed but I knew if the 4 was running anything like he has been all year,and especially in practice yesterday, that it would be a fight down to the end. It’s unfortunate to see the night end the way it did and really hate to see if affect someone else’s night and the end of the race, but that’s racing and you have to take the good with the bad. We’re entering a stretch of races that we typically do really well at so I’m excited to move on to Gateway and have another shot at a win.”
– Sauter holds a 40-point lead over Christopher Bell in the driver and owner championship point standings.
No. 24 Allegiant Chevrolet Silverado
GMS driver Justin Haley claimed his third top-10 of the season, and fourth of his career, in his first start at Texas Motor Speedway in the Winstaronlinegaming.com 400 on Friday night. Haley started the 167-lap event from the tenth position and reported to crew chief Kevin Bellicourt early on that he had trouble passing as he would get loose under other trucks. The first stage came to a conclusion with Haley in the 11th-position and he visited the Allegiant team for two tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment.
The 18-year-old started the second stage within the top-10, but his Chevrolet began to get loose on entry as the 40-lap segment progressed. He worked his way up to the sixth position before falling back to ninth, just before the stage break. Bellicourt brought his driver to pit road for four tires, fuel and both air pressure and chassis adjustments.
Haley settled into the 11th-position at the halfway break, as his truck began to tighten up in the center of the corner. With 50 laps to go, the team made their final stop for two tires, placing Haley in the second position for the restart. He remained in the top-three before slipping back through the field. Haley continued to fight being loose in traffic. Slight contact with the 8 truck left minimal damage on the No. 24 with 25 laps remaining. Deciding the damage was not causing any issues, the driver remained on track avoiding two late-race incidents to advance to the sixth position for his highest finish of the season.
“It was a good night for our Allegiant team. We started off loose and ended up being tight at the end, but Kevin (Bellicourt, crew chief) made great calls to get us track position when needed, which helped us stay out of trouble in those last few laps. I’m really proud of the way these guys fought all night to keep us up front. We continue to make gains each week, and even though we still have a long way to go, I feel good about the progress we’re making. “
– Haley is 16th in driver championship point standings following his third top-10 in five races.
No. 33 Kiklos Chevrolet Silverado
Unloading at Texas Motor Speedway for the first time in his NCWTS career, Kaz made quick work of his learning process using the three practice sessions Thursday to dial in his No. 33 Kiklos Chevrolet Silverado. Happy with the speed he showed early on, Kaz continued the trend through qualifying, grabbing the sixth starting position for Friday night’s Winstaronlinegaming.com 400.
Starting the race in the high line, Kaz learned a valuable lesson the hard way, loosing major track position because of the lack of grip up top. Dropping back to 18th, Kaz regrouped and methodically worked his way back inside the top-10 before the conclusion of stage one. Keeping the importance of track position in mind, crew chief Jerry Baxter made the call for a two-tire stop under the stage break, as well as a slight adjustment to tighten up the No. 33 Chevy Silverado.
Lining up seventh for the start of stage two, the Boston-native applied what he learned in the early laps of the race to maintain his track position on the restart. As the stage progressed, the handling of the Kiklos Chevy really came in, allowing Kaz to advance into the top-five and run some of the fastest laps among the trucks on track before the close of the stage.
Hitting pit road for four tires, fuel and a round of minor adjustments to loosen the No.33 back up, Kaz restarted eighth for the last leg of the race. As the laps wound down though, Kaz’s handling swung from loose to tight. Wanting to give him the best opportunity to make up some ground in the closing laps, Baxter called Kaz down pit road under caution on lap 155 for four tires and a wedge adjustment to help aid the Kiklos Chevrolet Silverado.
Restarting 11th with eight laps to go, Kaz was looking to make up ground when he got collected in an accident involving the No. 51. The GMS Racing team went to work trying to repair the left front damage that was sustained, and was able to keep Kaz on the lead lap to finish out the remaining two laps. Avoiding another late-race incident causing the race to end under yellow, Kaz was able to secure a 10th-place finishFriday night at Texas.
“We had a really fast Kiklos Chevy this weekend. My team unloaded unbelievably fast and it only got better from there. I think this was the best executed race that we’ve had so far this season. We ran in the top-10 almost all night, but we had a top-five truck. A little bad luck at the end kept us from that finish, but we’ll take the top-10 and move on.”
– Kaz’s 10th-place finish is his fourth top-10 finish of the 2017 NCWTS season.
– After the seventh race of the season, Kaz is currently eighth in the NCWTS point standings, but has one win and five bonus points towards the playoffs.