Brennan Newberry and the NTS Motorsports No.9 Qore-24 Chevrolet Silverado team traveled to the wild asphalt circus, Texas Motor Speedway, with high hopes for a strong finish and were excited about competing on a track held in high regard on their driver's list of favorite venues. When the race came down to who could stretch a tank of Sunoco Racing Fuel for the longest distance, Newberry looked poised as one of the few drivers who could make it to the end after executing a near perfect strategy alongside his crew chief, Ryan McKinney. If not for a stroke of tough luck in the closing laps of the WinStar World Casino and Resort 400, their tactics would have proven a true blueprint for success.
An early morning flight to Texas took teams to a track that is a true celebration of speed, a mile and a half asphalt oval that challenges crews with its high speeds and blistering temperatures. Crew Chief Ryan McKinney, affectionately known in motorsports as "R-Mac", prepared his team for a hot day in the sun but knew the No.9 guys could handle the pressure. Thursday would see a total of two and a half hours on track for practice. Throughout the dual sessions many changes were made, including chassis, wedge, tire pressures, and other various adjustments to find just the feel Newberry was looking for behind the wheel. After going from far too free to just a bit tight, and working through dramatically changing track conditions, McKinney and Newberry found an arrangement they liked just as practice closed. On the final run of the evening, as the sun began to fade, Newberry posted a time of 30.856 and sat eighth fastest on the scoring monitor. As the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series garage closed, the No.9 team was confident they had a truck that could contend for a cowboy hat on Friday.
The first order of business on race day would be Knockout Qualifying, NASCAR's exciting new format for time trials in the top three divisions, on another hot and hazy day in Fort Worth. As drivers fought to literally keep their cool leading into the session, Newberry, McKinney, and spotter Josh Williams, formulated a plan to be on top when time expired. As the first 25 minute segment expired, the No.9 Silverado was well inside the top 24 with a time of 30.83 as was 14th on the chart leading into the 2nd round. As the field was poised to be cut in half to twelve, that would be given the chance to fight for the top starting spot, Newberry sat on pit road in the middle of a pack baking in the Texas sun. With just over a minute remaining trucks roared to life and hit the track to post their fastest lap, just crossing the start/finish line as time expired with one shot to come back around at top speed. As Newberry made his close on a truck in front of him, another competitor dove to the inside line coming off of turn four and Newberry was forced to lift the throttle to keep from making contact. Even as he lost forward momentum, Newberry posted a time that would stand 13th on the board just missing the final pole deciding round, with a time of 30.628.
As once again the sun fell behind the front stretch grandstand, teams waited for a chance to get on track and test their setups on a cool racing surface that would have more grip than they had seen since their arrival to the track on Thursday. The command to fire engines was given just after 8:00PM CST and the race was on. Immediately Newberry knew his truck was going to be better on the long runs and it began to come to him throughout the first portion of the 167 lap event. After a few cautions and chances to work on the truck, McKinney made changes to help his driver after Newberry described his Qore-24 Chevrolet as "wicked loose" during early portions of each run. At halfway, Newberry had fought his way back to inside the top 15 and knew he needed a long run to the finish to capitalize with a strong truck.
With just a handful of laps remaining in the 400 kilometer event, McKinney and Newberry had worked their way into a great spot running in 15th. They were optimistic about a good finish because as other trucks began to pit in desperate need of fuel, R-Mac knew his truck had three extra laps of fuel in the tank and his driver could stay out as others hit pit road. As the spotter reported that other trucks were pitting and his driver could simply pick other competitors off as their tanks ran dry, Newberry relayed back to his team that something was amiss. Hating to give up his track position and knowing he had enough fuel to make it to the end, Newberry made a tough but ultimately a very worthy decision and headed to the service of his crew. As the team replaced a right front tire that looked poised to burst at any minute, McKinney knew his driver made a heads up call and saved what could have been a devastating end to a strong night. After pitting Newberry held on to a respectable finish in 16th and knew he and his team had a strong night and could board a plane back to North Carolina with their heads held high.
NTS Motorsports PR