Chase Pistone Tops First Practice and Scores Top Ten in the Shadow of the Show Me State
Chase Pistone and the No.9 NTS Motorsports Camping World Truck Series Chevrolet Silverado team traveled to the "Gateway to the West" to compete in the Drivin' for Linemen 200 in Madison, Illinois. The return of Gateway Motorsports Park, located just a few short miles from downtown St. Louis, Missouri, to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Schedule was hailed by teams and fans alike, as an immense gain for competition. The 1.25 asphalt track is unlike any other on the circuit with differing corners, high speeds, and tight racing that present a daunting but gratifying challenge for even the most seasoned of veterans. Yet, this weekend, when all roads led to Gateway Motorsports Park, a rookie was one of the fastest to travel them.
On track activity began on Friday at 3:00PM CST and teams would have a total of four hours to try out their setups. On the initial run, Chase Pistone could immediately tell that his Chevrolet Silverado was fast and could get back up to speed quickly on exit of the corners, but felt he was just a bit too tight to really find the truck's true potential. Pistone came in to the assistance of his team, and NTS Motorsports Crew Chief, Ryan McKinney, made a few minor adjustments that he was confident would give his driver exactly what he needed. Upon returning to the track, Pistone would lay down the fastest lap of the first session and soar to the top of the charts. A position he would maintain throughout the rest of the first round of practice. With a lap time of 33.054, Pistone and McKinney fired a shot across the bow of their competitors and made their presence known. Pistone was fast once again in final practice and was listed inside the top five at the end of four total hours on track with a time of 33.122.
On Saturday, Pistone strapped in for the final ninety minutes of practice, before Knockout Qualifying later that day. After 23 laps on track McKinney had given his driver a car that could hold up under long runs and take off and get up to top speed quickly and placed Pistone second on the board with a top speed of 136.562. For Knockout Qualifying, a session that would be broken up into three rounds with the field being cut to twenty-four of the fastest drivers, then cut down to twelve and those top twelve teams would fight for the pole in the final session, the NTS Motorsports No.9 team were confident in their slight changes since practice and had their sights set on the top of the board. Chase Pistone was well inside the top 24 in the first session and had only turned a single lap of record to make his way into the second round. At the end of the 10 minute session, Pistone sat seventh on the board and would be one of the twelve drivers to fight for the pole award in the final 5 minute round. When the green flew for the final time, Pistone came to the line for only a single lap and scored a time of 33.151 that would place him inside the top five, securing the fifth spot, after his first ever attempt at NASCAR's new qualifying format.
As the green fell on the Drivin' for Linemen 200 Pistone lined up on the inside of row three prepared to show everyone that the hard work and dedication of the Kernersville based NTS Motorsports team could outshine their competition. During the first caution laps of the evening, occurring on lap three of the event, Pistone relayed to his team that the truck felt comfortable going through the corners. Just a few laps later, a second caution would be shown, and Chase said the truck had started to get a little snug on him going through turns one and two as he had fallen to eleventh. With just under one hundred laps remaining in the event, Pistone said the tightness in his truck was getting better on the longer runs and came to his crew on pit road for a scheduled green flag stop, for four tires, fuel and a trackbar adjustment. Pistone would roll out of the pits in sixteenth, waiting for teams to cycle through green flag pit stops, however the caution was displayed just three laps later trapping Pistone in fifteenth after running inside the top ten before his service.
By lap 125, Pistone and McKinney had worked their way back up to eighth on the board through sheer speed and strategy and came down pit road under caution to the assistance of his NTS Motorsports pit crew. After changing all four Goodyear tires and filling up their No.9 Chevrolet Silverado, Pistone roared past the line picking up two spots during the stop. Pistone relayed to his team, "Awesome job, boys! That track position is definitely going to help us during this final run!" Throughout the closing laps, Pistone maintained his spot inside the top ten and brought home a ninth place finish and was the top finishing rookie of the event. The NTS Motorsports No.9 team has a lot of momentum and confidence to build on for their next event with Chase at Kentucky Speedway in just over a week, on June 26th.
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