Gray Gaulding and the No. 20 Gemini Southern Chevrolet team never game up and never gave in during Friday's Lucas Oil 200 at Dover International Speedway.
With duel practice sessions scheduled for Thursday, the NTS Motorsports crew was ready to test and tune for 200 miles at the Monster Mile unfortunately mother nature wasn't as friendly and rain kept team off the track for the majority of the day.
Gray was able to turn 5 laps during Thursday's practice session, posting the 13th quickest time of a 23.775. "We didn't even get up to speed"said Gaulding, as the rain set back in over the one mile Dover International Speedway "we were able to shake it down for a few laps and know where we need to start tomorrow."
With the lack of track time NASCAR canceled Friday's knockout style qualifying session and replaced it with a single 60-minute practice session. Gaulding posted the 18th quickest time, a 23.549 after turning 33 laps. "We're struggling over the bumps in turns three and four"said Gaulding "I know Jeff and the boys will get it tuned up for the race."
With qualifying be canceled the field would be set per the rule book, Gaulding would start 13th by owner's points, but due to a scheduling conflict would start in the rear after missing the drivers meeting.
When the green flag dropped, Gaulding immediately started moving forward, passing trucks on the top and bottom until lap 7, when the first caution flag flew for the No. 35 truck spinning down the backstretch. Gaulding had the wreck cleared until the truck came back across the track, getting into left side headlight of the No. 20 truck.
Gaulding brought his No.20 Gemini Southern / Krispy Kreme Chevrolet down pit road when it opened up for a chassis adjustment and damage repair. When the green flag waved once again at lap 11, Gaulding went back to work passing trucks.
The second caution came out at lap 16 with Gaulding up to 24th. Crew Chief Jeff
Hensley brought Gray in for four tires, fuel and to work on the damage. When the track went back green at lap 27, Gaulding had moved up to 21st. Gray slowly worked his way inside the top-20 and was running 19th, as the leaders started to hit pit road for green flag stops until the caution flag flew at lap 75. Gaulding maintained inside the top-20 and had moved into 16th at lap 140, and then inside the top-15 by lap 160.
Gaulding was running 14th in the closing 25 laps when the No. 77 tuck got loose below Gray and washed up the track sending Gray spinning into the outside wall. Gaulding brought his heavily damaged Chevrolet Silverado to the attention of his crew. They went to work repairing the left side and sent Gray back out, but the damage was to severe cutting down the left front tire and ending the day for him and the entire No. 20 Team.
Next time out for Gray Gaulding and the No. 20 NTS Motorsports Chevrolet team will be the Drivin' For Lineman 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park on June 14th.
Gray Gaulding's Post-Race Thoughts:
"It was a long day to say the least. We had to start in the rear and just never could get back ahead. I thought we were in good position when the leaders started pitting under green until the caution came out. These guys didn't give up all day, but the damage on the nose hurt us with this new aero package. We will chalk it up, I can't wait to get to Gateway in a few weeks.
Jeff Hensley's Post-Race Thoughts:
"It was a tough day to say the least. Gray and this entire group of guys worked hard during practice and even harder during the race. Getting collected in someone else's mess is never fun and makes for long days. We will recover and get back after it next week at Texas."
NTS Motorsports PR