Ryan Truex turned in one of the most impressive performances of his NASCAR career with a fourth-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in TheHouse.com 225. The driver of the No. 16 ADVICS / AISIN Group Toyota Tundra led 29 laps after winning his first-career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series pole award.
Truex captured his first pole position, and the first ever NCWTS pole for Hattori Racing Enterprises, by recording the quickest lap in both rounds of qualifying on Friday afternoon. At the drop of the green flag, Truex’s aggressive approach netted him the lead on lap two, and he paced the field until lap 23. The 25-year-old was running third when a caution flag flew on lap 31. Despite dealing with a tight balance, crew chief Scott Zipadelli elected to keep Truex on track, hoping to collect stage points at lap 35. The gamble paid off as Truex claimed his third stage victory of the season.
As a result of the pit strategy, Truex came to pit road under the caution at the conclusion of Stage 1 for four tires, fuel, and a wedge adjustment to loosen up the ADVICS / AISIN Group Tundra. Truex subsequently restarted 14th on lap 43. His handling swung to the extreme free side, but despite the insecure balance, Truex rocketed inside the top 10 by lap 46. On lap 70, Truex took the green-and-white checkered flag in eighth position in Stage 2 and earned three championship points.
Under the lap 71 caution flag, Zipadelli brought Truex to pit road for another round of Goodyear tires and reversed the initial wedge adjustment. Truex put the adjustment to good use on the ensuing lap 78 restart when he perfectly executed a three-wide move in turn one to advance from seventh to fourth. He came to pit road for the final time under the event’s final caution period of lap 107 for four tires and an air pressure adjustment. Truex restarted fourth on lap 111 and immediately climbed to second. Over the final 40 circuits, Truex’s balance kept him from challenging the race leaders, but he went on to capture his fourth top-five finish in the last five races.
The fourth-place result moved Truex into a tie for the final playoff position, but he missed the postseason cut by way of a tie-breaker. Truex and the No. 16 HRE team will resume their quest to find victory lane on Saturday, September 24th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Ryan Truex Quote:
“I knew it would be tough, and these guys gave me a great ADVICS / AISIN Group Tundra. We just didn’t have anything for the top three, honestly. I could be really aggressive on restarts and get in front of them, but 10 laps later they’d pass me back. I just didn’t have the grip they did on the long run. I mean, there’s nothing we can do about it. If you look back, there’s times where we’ve had things happen out of our control that put us in this position. But, obviously we’re a top-five truck and we’ve proved that all year. It’s nothing to hang our heads about.”
“My only shot was restarts. I could get good restarts and get in front of them, but they had just so much more long-run speed than we did. I mean, it sucks, but we’re a top-five truck and we’re missing the playoffs. It’s frustrating. Every restart, I was trying to get the lead, and I was trying to lead laps, and make it to the end and battle for the win. We were one spot short. That’s what it comes down to.”
Shigeaki Hattori Quote:
"Ryan and the entire team did a great job and have been all season. It's disappointing to come so close to making the playoffs in our first full-time season and miss out, but we have a lot to be proud of and look forward to the rest of this season and beyond. We've been able to develop our program in a short period of time to compete with the most successful teams in the series, and I'm so proud of everyone at HRE and all of our partners."