Handling Woes Relegate Dakoda Armstrong to 21st Place at Lucas Oil Raceway
Dark storm clouds rolled in over Lucas Oil Raceway just prior to pre-race ceremonies Friday night for the AAA Insurance 200. Heavy rain would hold off for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitors, but ill handling conditions for Dakoda Armstrong's No. 98 Ferrellgas/Agrisure/Drive For Savings Chevy hit full force. Armstrong would be credited with 21st place after wrestling through the last half of the race under green on worn tires.
Throughout both of the afternoon's practice sessions, Armstrong and new crew chief Dan Stillman adjusted to working with each other while making several changes to their No. 98 entry. By the end of final practice on Friday afternoon, Armstrong reported the adjustments had made the truck a lot better, but asked for more before qualifying. Stillman gave him just that, boosting his best lap times in practice by over a half a second to the 21st starting position.
The yellow flag flew early in the 200 lap contest for both on-track incidents and rain falling on the track. Crew chief Stillman pulled his driver down pit road for the first time under the second caution on lap 40 for four tires and significant adjustments to remedy a Silverado that was pretty tight all the way around the .686-mile oval.
Just 24 laps after restarting just inside the top 20, Armstrong pulled the No. 98 down pit road to the attention of his crew under the third caution, reporting the tight condition had only worsened after the first round of adjustments. Stillman made a quick decision to use a scuff set of tires along with a slew of adjustments and save the final set of sticker Goodyear's, banking on a caution later in the race th
at would provide an opportunity for their use.
Uncharacteristic of the Indiana short track, only one more brief caution would come just 10 laps after the last, which brewed a 107-lap green flag run to the finish. The used tires continued to fall off as the laps wore on, making Armstrong's Chevy push even worse all the way through the turns.
"It was all I could do to just hold on," Armstrong expressed after the checkered flag. "The truck was tight during the beginning of the run, but it was manageable. That long green flag run at the end just killed us though and the right front tire was just completely used up. No matter what I tried, it just seemed to be tighter."
"We'll go to work and make it better before Michigan."
Crew chief Dan Stillman encouraged his young driver over the radio following Armstrong's final lap around Lucas Oil Raceway.
"That was an extremely long green flag run that we didn't expect, and you drove a hard, clean race. I wish we could've made it better for you, but we'll take it back to the shop and keep making improvements."