Brennan Newberry has Strong Showing in Knock-Out Qualifying but is Unable to Finish the Fight in Kansas
For the first time, The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series traveled to Kansas Speedway preparing to battle under the lights for the venue's first ever night race, and Brennan Newberry strapped into his No.9 Qore-24 NTS Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado optimistic about the weekend and their chances at a good showing in the Mid-West. Preparations for The SFP 250 began on Thursday, as teams and crews took to the track for the first of two practice sessions, monitoring the weather forecast as much as their race setups. Early morning rains would move through the area with threatening thunderstorms, while Crew Chief, John Monsam and his NTS crew formulated a plan for a notably fast track. After the air-titans were the first vehicles on track, they fulfilled their duties drying the racing surface and NCWTS teams only lost a half hour of total practice time before the two sixty minute sessions began as the sun peaked through the clouds.
Once on track, Newberry knew instantly the main goal for the weekend would be trying to find the right balance on a track known to be tight. This was a goal resonating throughout the garage area and Monsam, a former winner at Kansas, knew just the right set-up to suit his driver's needs. Slight changes to the chassis and tire pressures, is how the NTS Motorsports crew chased speed throughout most of the first and final practice. After diligently calculating what the setup required, Newberry was comfortable with his Qore-24 Chevrolet and came in to prepare for his final run, in qualifying trim. As the nose was being taped up and the engine cooled, a fellow competitor spun on the backstretch brining out a yellow flag. Time expired under caution and Newberry unable to make his mock qualifying run, but maintained a fast lap of 31.44, which was 16th on the scoring chart. Monsam knew there may be some unknowns going into the series' first ever Knockout Qualifying session, but his main object was to make sure the Qore-24 Chevrolet would be fast enough to make it through all three rounds.
Friday arrived with a very welcome scene, a beautiful Kansas City day under a bright blue sky. For the first time in the NCWTS 2014 season, rain was not in the forecast on race day. As qualifying was about to begin, Brennan Newberry sat in the NTS Motorsports hauler with his teammate for the weekend, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular Austin Dillon, and devised a strategy on how to make it to the final session in order to fight for the pole. As the track opened for the first of three rounds, in which only the top twenty-four would transfer, Newberry, who was one of the first on track, found some company and worked the draft to lay down a lap that would hold up to pass onto the second session. As the green flag was displayed once again, a chess match ensued throughout pit road, with each of the drivers knowing the truck that caught a smaller pack of trucks already on the race track, was going to be the best way to lay down a fast lap to make it into the top twelve. After a few drivers took to the speedway, Newberry and Dillon set out to catch the pack in front of them and both succeeded, moving them onto the final round to fight for the top spot. After the final five minute segment, the No.9 team secured the twelfth spot with a lap time of 30.74 and knew they had a strong truck to start the event.
The sun began to fade behind the horizon and the lights began to shine as NASCAR's first night race at Kansas was set to begin. With well wishes from friends, family, and his Qore-24 crew, Newberry strapped in and was prepared to show everyone that Monsam and NTS had produced a solid Chevrolet that could finish on top. The green was displayed, and it didn't take long to notice that the SFP 250 was going to be a battle the entire way. Going three wide through the first two turns and being shuffled out of the middle by the entry of three, Newberry was at top speed through the corners when another truck slowed in front of him. Newberry made slight contact with the slowing competitor and narrowly escaped being involved in the event's first melee. After the events first restart on lap six, Newberry made his way into the top ten and was hitting his marks and working his way to the front in ninth position. After running side-by-side for more than half of the first fuel run, Newberry had stayed in contact with the leaders and made his way to the service of the crew on lap thirty-five. A malfunction caused trouble with the right rear tire change and Newberry would rejoin the field in seventeenth coming back around for the restart.
By lap sixty, the No.9 truck had worked his way up through traffic and turmoil to find himself back inside the top ten, with a truck that was still tight but coming in under long runs. After the next five cautions, Newberry knew that he had a truck fast enough to catch the leaders and continued to work his way to the front. Unfortunately on lap sixty-four, the driver reported to the team that he thought he might have a right front going down, and going into turn three, the truck went hurtling toward the SAFER barrier. Staying on the lead lap, Monsam brought the Qore-24 Silverado down pit road for repairs under caution, and gave his driver two new right side tires and instructed his team to fix everything they could while saying out in front of the pace car. The race would resume on lap seventy-three and nursing the injured right front, Newberry fought an ill-handling race truck around for three more circuits, until a tire-rub caused the right front to blow out in the center of turns three and four, sending Newberry into the outside retaining wall once again, this time with heavy damage. After driving his Chevrolet Silverado to the garage area, the crew estimated the damage to be terminal and the Qore-24 Team suffered their first "DNF" of the season. After chasing a fast setup, finding speed where others were struggling, and climbing inside the top ten twice in only sixty laps, Newberry was forced to accept a disappointing finish, but knows he and his team have plenty to be proud of going into their next event on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Schedule. Brennan Newberry will be competing at Iowa Speedway in the NKNPSE event on May 17th and Justin Lofton will pilot the No.9 NCWTS Silverado next week at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.
Brennan Newberry's Post-Race Thoughts:
"I feel like we had a very fast truck that was competitive enough to finish well inside the top 10 Friday night under the lights in Kansas. It was awesome to work with Austin Dillon in order to get both our trucks running better during practice. Knockout qualifying was a blast for me and my Qore-24 NTS Motorsports team; making it to the final round for the first time is something we are all very proud of. We didn't get the finish that we wanted and, unfortunately, we have a truck in need of extensive repair after losing two right front tires on track. I look forward to taking the No.9 Chevrolet Silverado to the track and running in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series again sometime very soon."
John Monsam's Post-Race Thoughts:
"I could not have been more proud of my NTS Motorsport No.9 team than I was after the race in Kansas. It was a pleasure to work alongside Jeff Hensley and members of the Chevrolet engineering group throughout the weekend. As always, Brennan did an outstanding job and showed his true ability and potential. I was very impressed with our speed in the second round of qualifying and we had a very fast truck as we were sixth on the board. Going into Q.3, we got a little ahead of ourselves, went out first, and we were unable to better our position in the final knockout segment. During the race, I felt like we were well on our way to a great finish. We made some changes and we were very competitive until we got into trouble and damaged the truck. I look forward to continuing to compete together with Brennan and my Qore-24 team throughout the 2014 season."