For the 2nd year in a row, The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returned to its roots to race on dirt at Eldora Speedway for the 1-800-CarCash MudSummer Classic. Chase Pistone, who has been involved in many different forms of racing throughout his career, only had one day of testing on dirt leading into the Ohio event. Searching for grip and learning his line, Pistone and NTS Motorsports came home strong at the end of the mid-week, primetime television, event.
With early morning rain showers moving through Rossburg, Ohio the schedule was altered by Mother Nature once again after teams arrived at the 60 year old red clay racing venue. After NASCAR and Eldora Speedway officials cleared the surface, the track was opened for the first time for one hour of practice. With 10 total laps tallied on the board, Pistone and Crew Chief Ryan McKinney were looking for ways to allow Chase to get back in the gas without losing traction in the rear end of the truck. Making a few "big swings" at the adjustments, Pistone got back out on track for his third total run of the day. With a lap time of 20.152, the No.9 Chevrolet Silverado sat 9th on the leader board going into final practice.
With only 90 minutes of practice remaining before qualifying, Pistone and McKinney knocked the mud off of their chassis and made a few track bar and tire pressure changes to allow Pistone to use more throttle on the exit of the turns. After a total of 58 laps on track, Pistone posted a lap time of 20.758 and a top speed of 86.59 which held a spot inside the top ten once again. Ending final practice, Pistone sat 8th on the board, and was confident and comfortable going into the season's only 2-lap, single truck, qualifying session.
With NASCAR forgoing knockout qualifying, and replacing it with 2-laps for each truck to determine their starting spot for 1 of 5 heat races, Pistone rolled off of the line 4th to post his fastest time. With loose dirt still making up the majority of the racing surface, Pistone knew he would have to slide his way around the half-mile track. On his first lap, Pistone made slight contact with the outside wall but kept his foot on the gas and roared around to his second circuit. When he took the checkered flag, Pistone held onto a time of 20.155 which would place him 8th on the board, and sat him on the outside of row one for a 10 lap heat race to determine his place in the final starting lineup for the 75 mile main event.
As the NASCAR Camping World Trucks roared to life for 1 of 5 heat races, Pistone started in 2nd for the 3rd 10 lap shootout. Just after taking the green, Pistone was in a search for grip coming off of the corners as the racing surface had dramatically changed since his last time out. Knowing that he was locked in to the event and not wanting to damage a fast Chevrolet Silverado, Pistone kept his cool and fought his way around to complete his heat. After 10 laps, Pistone was 6th, and would start the main event on the inside of row 12 in 23rd.
After a long day of slinging dirt in Ohio, Chase Pistone strapped in to make his first career start that was not on asphalt or concrete. As one of the many drivers in the field to take the green for their first time on dirt, the NTS Motorsports driver was aware of the challenges ahead of him and his team. After three laps during the first of three segments, Pistone had made his way into the top 20 and was silent on the radio until the first caution on lap 26. Under the yellow flag condition, Pistone radioed into his crew; "It's very, very, slick out here, guys! I need some help with drive off". By lap 39 the caution would be displayed once again and Pistone made his way down pit road for adjustments. Restarting just inside the top 25, Pistone would hold on until the competition caution at lap 60 and the end of segment one.
During the five minute break allowed for teams to gauge their setups and make changes on pit road, Pistone came to the service of his NTS Motorsports crew and radioed to Ryan McKinney, "Those adjustments we made during that last stop, they really helped. Give me some more of what we did the last time". With the green being displayed for lap 61, Pistone would restart in 25th, and began making his way through the field. Within five laps Pistone knew that his crew chief had made the right changes and said, "It feels a lot better, boys!" By the end of the 2nd segment, at lap 110, Pistone was running in 23rd and knew he could pick off a few more positions after another round of changes from McKinney.
With 40 laps remaining to sling some dirt at Eldora, Pistone was just outside the top 20 and was confident he could capitalize on a few more spots going into the final segment of the night. As the green was displayed for the concluding 20 miles of the race, Pistone picked his way through spins and wrecks in front of him and kept the No.9 Chevrolet Silverado in one piece. As the laps ticked away, Pistone had moved up to 18th with only 23 circuits remaining until the checkered flag. Racing multiple lines and running three consecutive laps in the middle of a 3-wide battle, Chase kept digging until the end. By lap 150, and the end of the 2nd annual MudSummer Classic, Pistone came home in 17th after a tough but strong day on the Ohio dirt. The next event for NTS Motorsports in The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be the Pocono Mountains 150 at Pocono Raceway on Saturday, August 2nd, 2014.
NTS Motorsports PR