By March 4, 2018News

No. 21 Allegiant Chevrolet Silverado

  Start: 3rd
Finish: 2nd
Points: 1st (+39)

  Stage One: At the start of the race, Sauter fell back as far as the seventh position before making his way back to the front and challenging for the lead. Sitting in the fourth position under the first caution, he once again lost track position on the restart, settling back into seventh. Sauter battled a loose on entry, tight on exit handling condition throughout the first 30-lap stage. He brought his Allegiant Chevrolet to pit road at the Stage One break for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. With several trucks making a two-tire stop, Sauter restarted in the eighth position.

  Stage Two: Continuing to struggle on restarts, Sauter dropped back to the 12th position at the start of Stage Two before making his way back into the eighth position before the green-and-white checkered flag waved. He reported to the team that the previous chassis adjustment did not help and was still too tight on exit. Under the stage break he pitted for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment, in addition to the team correcting the previous adjustments. Quick work by the No. 21 pit crew placed Sauter in the second position for the start of the final stage.

  Final Stage: Sauter’s handling issues continued into the Final Stage as he maintained his position in the top-five through the first half of the 67-lap segment. He took over the third position before coming to pit road under green for his final stop of the night with crew chief Joe Shear, Jr., calling for right side tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. A slow stop cost Sauter one position on track but a quick caution following green-flag stops allowed an opportunity for him to challenge the leaders for the win. With less than five laps to go Sauter tracked down the No. 51 of Kyle Busch, but pressure from the No. 16 truck on the final lap resulted in a runner-up finish.

  Additional Notes:
– Sauter has earned top-three finishes in each of the first three races of the 2018 season to hold a 39-point lead in the NCWTS point standingsheading in to a break in the schedule.

“I could not get going tonight on a restart. I’d find myself getting great track position from great pit stops, then drop the green flag and I’d get shuffled out and find myself eighth, ninth, or tenth. I thought ‘well, we’ll have to pick them off one at a time.’ Our Allegiant/Sunseeker Resorts Chevrolet was good; long run speed was killer. I knew that from practice yesterday, and I had fears of going into today too free, and I was right. It was way too loose to start the race. We made some adjustments and that made it worse. It was just an up and down night for us. I felt like we passed a lot of trucks tonight, just because I couldn’t get going.

  “I felt like I had one last shot to get to Kyle (Busch). I’m finding with the new engine package that you have to time your passes. It’s not like the old days where you could just make a move, stick with it, and work them over. Now you have to plan your move. There was an opportunity there to pass Kyle but I knew I couldn’t do anything in (turns) three and four, so I had to just fall in line with him and save it for another run. The draft is crazy with this engine package. Overall it was a good night, a great start to the season and I feel like, again, we learned a lot that we can work on during the break.”

No. 25 Performance Plus Motor Oil Chevrolet Silverado

  Start: 18th (to the rear)
Finish: 6th
Points: 8th

  Stage One: Despite starting at the rear of the field, Sargeant diced his way through the traffic, making it to the top-15 after only two laps. When the first caution of the race came out on lap 16, crew chief Doug Randolph called the No. 25 down pit road for two left side tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Restarting 17th with nine laps left in Stage One, Sargeant was able to make his way to 14th before the green-checkered flag was displayed. Looking to gain track position, Sargeant pitted for right side tires, fuel and to take tape off the nose under the stage break, lining up in the sixth position for Stage Two.

  Stage Two: Struggling with the handling of his Performance Plus Chevrolet throughout Stage Two, Sargeant slipped back to 13th. Coming to pit road under the stage break, Sargeant received four tires, fuel and a round of chassis adjustments to loosen his Chevy Silverado up before restarting 10th on lap 68.

  Final Stage: After only five laps, the caution came out, allowing Sargeant to come to pit road once again to top off on fuel as well as for a track bar adjustment to aid in the handling of his No. 25. Restarting 15th, Sargeant worked his way up to 11th-place with less than 30 laps to go. With green-flag pit stops beginning, Sargeant took the lead on lap 115, and remained there until his green-flag stop, on lap 118, for two right side tires and fuel. As Sargeant rejoined the field on track, the caution came out on lap 120, allowing Sargeant to come back down pit road for left side tires under the caution. Lining up 10th for the final restart of the night, Sargeant raced his way to a hard-fought sixth-place finish, the highest finishing NCWTS rookie of the race.

  Additional Notes:
– Sargeant had to start from the rear of the field for an unapproved adjustment after qualifying.

  Quote: “We had a good finish in the No. 25 Performance Plus Chevy. Really, all of GMS Racing had a good night. All weekend we had an issue with just raw speed. My guys worked really hard throughout the weekend to try and find the issue, but never could. We probably should have finished outside the top-10 with the issues, but we clawed our way to the front there at the very end. Doug (Randolph) made some great calls on the pit box to get us track position all night but we just couldn’t ever maintain it over a long run. With such a short run at the end, we were able to hang on and finish sixth. My hat is off to the guys on this race team; they’ll go back to the shop and tear everything apart and find the issue. We’ll come back and be a lot better for Martinsville (Speedway).”

No. 2 Chevrolet Silverado

  Start: 14th
Finish: 8th
Points: 11th

  Stage One: Coughlin climbed his way into the top-10 before the conclusion of Stage One on lap 30. He reported that his Chevy was driving better than it had all weekend, but he was fighting “tight off” on the exit of the corners. Crew chief Jerry Baxter called Coughlin down pit road under the stage break for four tires, fuel and to pull tape off the grille, lining him up 13th for the restart.

  Stage Two: Knocking on the door of the top-10 during Stage Two, Coughlin ended the stage in the 11th position after still fighting a Chevy Silverado that progressively got tighter throughout the 26-lap green-flag run. Coming down pit road under caution, Coughlin’s No. 2 received four fresh tires, fuel and chassis adjustments to loosen his vehicle up. After a good stop by the pit crew, Coughlin was scored in the eighth position for the start of the Final Stage.

  Final Stage: With a stellar restart, Coughlin weaved through traffic to fifth after one lap. Continuing his climb to the front, Coughlin made his way to the third position before a caution on lap 73. Happier with the handling of his Chevy, Coughlin ran in the third positon, within striking distance of the leaders, before slipping back a couple positions as his No. 2 began to tighten up over the long green-flag run. Baxter called Coughlin to pit road for his final pit stop on lap 114 under green for four tires, chassis adjustments and a splash of gas to make it to the end of the race. However, before green-flag pit stops could fully cycle through, the caution came out on lap 120, catching Coughlin one lap down. With the leaders pitting, Coughlin was able to take the “wave around” to get his lap back, lining up 13th for the final 11 laps. Coughlin quickly got to work, making up as much ground as possible, crossing the finish line with an eighth-place finish, his first top-10 finish of the 2018 NCWTS season.

“We had such a fast Chevy tonight, especially compared to where we started the weekend. It felt good to run up front and be in contention for the win. Unfortunately, the last caution didn’t fall when we needed it to and caught us a lap down. Our luck is starting to turn around, we just need a bit more on our side.”

No. 24 Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet

  Start: 11th
Finish: 28th
Points: 14th

  Stage One: After getting shuffled back to the 17th position on the initial start, Haley worked his way back to 13th following the first caution of the night, and held that position until the conclusion of Stage One. Happy with the performance of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet, but needing track position, he came to pit road under the break for right side tires and fuel. The two-tire stop moved Haley in the seventh position for the restart.

  Stage Two: Following a lot of movement throughout the field at the start of Stage Two, Haley settled into the eighth position. He reported to the No. 24 team that he had started to get loose in turns three and four, but was able to gain a spot to finish Stage Two in the seventh position. Under the caution, he pitted for four tires and fuel, lining up to restart in the fourth position.

  Final Stage: Just six laps into the Final Stage, in a four-wide battle for position, Haley spun to bring out the fourth caution of the night. He pitted first for tires and fuel, returned to the track, and pitted a second time to repair damage to the right rear of the No. 24. Between the stops, NASCAR reported that Haley left debris ontrack, calling for the driver to be parked for the remainder of the race for extending the caution period. That call relegated Haley to a 28th-place finish.