No. 21 ISM Connect Chevrolet Silverado
Johnny Sauter, driver of the No. 21 ISM Connect Chevrolet Silverado, started from the fourth position forFriday night’s JAG Metals 350 at Texas Motor Speedway. Early on, he reported that he felt the splitter was dragging but stayed on track during the first two cautions to eventually takeover the second position with eight laps left in the first stage.
Sauter maintained second place before pitting at the Stage One break for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. As the team took time to switch out the rev limiter under caution, the No. 21 restarted outside of the top 10 for the second stage. Sauter worked his way back toward the top 10 before making contact with teammate Justin Haley on lap 59 and pitting for tires under the caution.
With 11 laps remaining in Stage Two, Sauter made gains on new tires to sit ninth as the green-checkered flag was shown on lap 70. He stayed on track to restart second for the final stage but got shuffled back to third on the restart. Sauter took the lead for the first time on lap 109 for seven laps before pitting under green for the final stop of the night.
As the field cycled through, Sauter returned to the top position and held off playoff contender Austin Cindric in the final laps to secure his third win of the season and a chance to compete for the NCWTS Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“Everything we had planned for strategy went out the window within the first 20 laps; we were pretty much calling an audible every time. We found ourselves pretty decent at the beginning. We were slow to take off which is pretty common for me, but as the night progressed it just got better. We had a fast ISM Connect Chevy and executed when we needed to and had the speed we needed. This is a big win and a big week for our family. Now I’m just looking forward to the next couple of races; we’ve got to get it done.”
– Sauter remains 4 points behind Christopher Bell; however, his win locks him into the Championship Four to compete for a second championship at Miami.
– Sauter’s Texas win is the 400th win for Hendrick Motorsports’ engine department.
No. 24 Zeality Chevrolet Silverado
Justin Haley, making his second start at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS), earned the pole in the Zeality Chevrolet Silverado for Friday’s JAG Metals 350, becoming the youngest TMS pole winner and setting a new track record. As the green flag waved, Haley pulled out to a steady lead but the first caution of the day occurred early on lap five. A battle for position ensued on the restart but the 18-year-old once again pulled away from second place, maintaining the top spot until lap 25, just as the second yellow flag waved.
Under caution, Haley reported his Zeality Chevy was progressively getting tighter and pitted for right side tires and fuel with just eight laps remaining in the first stage. Reporting a vibration as the first stage ended, Haley returned to pit road with the leaders for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment, returning to the track just outside the top 10.
Running in the 12th position halfway through the second stage, contact with the No. 21 truck sent Haley spinning, however he avoided contact with the wall and made a trip to his team for four fresh tires under the caution. He made quick work of regaining position on track to finish the Stage Two 12th. Because he had just pitted, Haley stayed on track under the stage break to line up fourth for the final 77-lap stage.
Haley jumped to second on the restart and maintained his position until lap 100 when he reported he was starting to get loose on entry. Under green, Haley pitted for right side tires and fuel and returned to the track to sit in the sixth position once green-flag stops were completed. As the final leg of the race came to a close, Haley gained an additional spot to finish fifth, earning his third top-five of the year.
“It’s really encouraging to see how far this team has come in just the last few races. We’re showing a lot of speed late in the season and that just proves how hard these guys work day in and day out. This was such an up and down race, but we overcame the adversity, learned a lot and got a top-five finish out of it. We’ll take this momentum into Phoenix and Miami, and finish the year out strong.”
– Haley’s 5th-place finish is his third top-five and 11th top-10 of the 2017 season.
– Earning the pole in his second start at Texas, Haley set a new track record to become the youngest Texas Motor Speedway pole winner.
No. 33 STEALTH Chevrolet Silverado
Returning to Texas Motor Speedway for the second time this season, Kaz and the No. 33 team picked up where they left off from the spring race, finishing both of Thursday’s practice sessions in the top-10 and securing a seventh-place starting position for the Jag Metals 350.
Immediately showing speed in his STEALTH Chevrolet Silverado, Kaz ran just outside the top-five, in sixth, until the second caution of the race on lap 27. Crew chief Jerry Baxter called the No. 33 down pit road under the caution for two right side tires and fuel, lining him up 11th for a four-lap shootout to end Stage 1. Kaz was able to make his way up to the eighth position as the green-checkered flag was displayed. During the stage break, varying pit strategy played out, allowing Kaz to restart third for the second stage. Battling among the top three trucks throughout Stage 2, Kaz finished the stage fourth when his Chevy swung to the tight side at the end of the run.
Coming to pit road before the final stage, Kaz hit pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. However an issue on the right front slowed the pit spot and Kaz was forced to restart 17th with 77 laps remaining. Using the long green-flag run to make his way through traffic, Kaz cracked the top-10 running order with 40 laps to go. With everyone needing to pit one final time, Kaz came to pit road under green on lap 122 for a splash of gas to get him to the finish. As green-flag stops cycled through, Kaz was scored seventh, but was able to grab one more position at the checkered flag, finishing the Jags Metal 350 in sixth-place.
“This was another good weekend for the No. 33 team. We unloaded fast and my STEALTH Chevrolet only got faster as the weekend went on. My guys have really improved our mile-and-a-half package throughout the season, and after tonight’s run, I think we will be one of the trucks to beat at Homestead-Miami Speedway.”
– Kaz’s sixth-place finish is his sixth top-10 finish in the last seven races
– After the 21st race of the season, Kaz is currently seventh in the NCWTS point standings