No. 21 ISM Connect Chevrolet Silverado
In the final race of the regular season, Johnny Sauter, driver of the No. 21 ISM Connect Chevrolet Silverado, started from the fourth position for TheHouse.com 225 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Chicagoland Speedway. Early in the event, he reported that his truck had no front grip as he maintained position within the top five. As the field was slowed by the third caution period of the night on lap 31, Sauter remained on track as several of his competitors pitted to line up in the second position for the restart with one lap remaining in stage one.
Sauter came to pit road at the stage break for four Goodyear tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment and returned to the track in 15th. He quickly worked his way back into the top 10, racing his way to a fourth-place stage two result.
As the race returned to green, the Necedah, Wis., native went back to work, entering the top three with less than 50 laps left in the race. The final caution of the night occurred on lap 107, bringing the No. 21 ISM Connect Chevrolet to pit road for four tires and fuel, with no adjustments. He restarted fifth and tookover the lead on lap 123.
Sauter stayed at the front of the field for the remaining 27 laps to secure his second win of 2018 and first in the NCWTS at Chicagoland Speedway.
The 39-year-old veteran joins teammate Kaz Grala in the 2018 NCWTS Playoffs to compete for his second NCWTS championship.
“This was a huge win for the No. 21 team. We really needed to pick up some momentum to start of The Playoffs and there was a feeling even yesterday as we ended practice that we could get that done tonight. I’ve been saying the last six or seven races how good this team is, how good GMS is, and the trucks that we build, and I think we were able to show that here tonight. All three trucks were up front and fast. We brought three new GMS chassis here tonight, so to put one in Victory Lane shows that this organization is still on the right track to go out and chase down another title.”
– Sauter is seeded second in the NCWTS Playoff Standings, 15 points behind Christopher Bell.
No. 24 Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet Silverado
Justin Haley made his Chicagoland Speedway debut from the sixth position in Friday night’s TheHouse.com 225. Reporting early in the race that his truck was free on entry and tight center, he raced within the top 10 until the third caution of the night on lap 31, when he brought the No. 24 Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet to pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
Haley returned to the field in the 14th position, gaining two spots on the restart to complete stage one in 12th. As the leaders came to pit road under caution, the No. 24 advanced to the eighth position. The Winamac, Ind., native stayed focused over the second 35-lap stage of the night to run as high as fourth, but ultimately finished the second stage in the sixth position as his truck began to handle loose on the bottom.
Throughout the first half of the final stage at Chicagoland Speedway, Haley continued to run in the top five, still in contention for the win that he needed to make the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs. Falling back to the eighth position just before the final caution of the race on lap 123, the Fraternal Order of Eagles truck stayed on track under yellow to claim the lead with 27 laps remaining.
Hoping the gamble would pay off, Haley did his best to hold off those trucks that pitted for tires, but the caution the team needed never came forcing him to pit under green for tires and fuel. Haley rejoined the field two laps down, but regained a lap thanks to having fresher tires than the leader. The No. 24 Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet crossed the line in the 14th position, marking just the fourth result outside of the top 10 for Haley’s GMS team this season.
Though Haley will not compete in this year’s Driver Championship playoffs, the No. 24 team will vie for the Owners Championship in which they are currently seeded sixth.
“We really needed a little luck on our side tonight and it didn’t come. We had a really fast Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevy and when it came down to it we needed to take a chance there at the end to make something happen and get the win. We were hoping for a caution that would put us on newer tires, but it didn’t come and we didn’t get a finish that showed just what we were capable of. This No. 24 team has done a great job this year and we still have an Owners title to race for. The wins are coming and we’ve got the consistency to make it happen.”
– In his first full-time season in the NCWTS, Haley will compete for the 2018 Owners Championship with the No. 24 team. Following Chase Elliott’s win at Martinsville Speedway earlier this year, the No. 23 truck’s points were transferred over, lending to the team’s sixth-place seeding in The Playoffs.
No. 33 STEALTH Chevrolet Silverado
Heading to Chicagoland Speedway for this first time in his NCWTS career, Kaz used both practice sessionsThursday to get acclimated to the track, finishing sixth and 13th fastest, before ultimately qualifying 14th forFriday night’s TheHouse.com 225.
Running within the top-15 for the majority of Stage One, Kaz reported early on that his No. 33 STEALTH Chevy was tight, making it hard for him to run the line he needed through the corners. Maintaining his position until the caution came out on lap 31, crew chief Jerry Baxter called Kaz down pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to try to loosen the rookie driver up. Restarting 13th for a one-lap shootout to the stage break, Kaz advanced to 12th at the end of Stage One. With varying pit strategy taking place, a few leaders elected to pit, lining Kaz up ninth for the start of Stage Two. However, as the next stage progressed the handling on the No. 33 swung to loose, especially around other trucks. Hanging on until the final stage break, Kaz finished Stage Two 14th.
After a four tire stop for fuel and a round of chassis adjustments to tighten the No. 33 Chevrolet Silverado back up, Kaz restarted ninth for the final 80 laps of TheHouse.com 225. Running 12th when the caution came out on lap 107, Baxter called the No. 33 down pit road for the final time for four tires, fuel and a set of chassis adjustments to help aid a now tight STEALTH Chevy. Restarting ninth for the final 40 laps, Kaz maintained his position, crossing the finish line with a top-10 finish at Chicagoland Speedway.
“Tonight was a long race for us. We just never could get the handling quite right to get the speed we needed, but my STEALTH team never gave up and kept making adjustments all night. My pit crew was really on ittonight as well, we made up ground all night on pit road, and that’s the confidence we need for these final races. Ninth is a solid finish to end the regular season, now we will focus on getting ready for the Playoffs, and hopefully start collecting some top-five finishes and another win.”
– After the 16th race of the season, the driver points reset for the start of the NCWTS Playoffs next weekend. Kaz is currently eighth in The Playoff grid after the reset.