Through unseasonably brisk weather, rain, wind, and 525 miles, Brennan Newberry had a very busy yet productive weekend while visiting Joliet, Illinois for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) and NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) events. What appeared to be a tall order for the young, Bakersfield, California native, turned into headlines with Newberry starting on the outside of the front row in the NCWTS Lucas Oil 225 and turned some of the fastest lap times throughout the event.
As the garage opened for the first day of NCWTS on-track activity, Newberry and Crew Chief Ryan McKinney talked before firing the engine for the first time. "We really had a plan going into this weekend that in order to build on our strong finishes we had to stick to our guns and run our race. We knew that if we could focus on first finishing that we could finish first by the end of the night", said McKinney after practice. At the end of first practice, Newberry and the No.9 Chevrolet Qore-24 team posted a lap time of 174.289 which held for seventh on the charts. Going into the final session of the day, McKinney called for a round of changes, prior to his driver strapping in, and Newberry could immediately tell the truck was even stronger right out of the gate. "We were strong as soon as we unloaded today, it is great when you can come right off of the hauler and be one of the top trucks. After first practice ended, Ryan (McKinney) made a few changes to get the truck to turn in the center and get me more comfortable in the seat. I think our time at the end of the session proves that those changes were positive ones", said Newberry. When final practice was completed, Newberry was the second truck on the speed charts and was turning heads as he was clearly one of the front runners going into Friday's Knockout Qualifying and the main event. While it is true that Newberry's truck was fast, Mother Nature had other plans for the NCWTS schedule.
Instead of chassis and tires, teams were focused on the radar and the horizon as Friday's action on track began. Newberry's first chance to hit the mile and a half racing surface would be during the opening practice session for the NASCAR Nationwide Series in the No.55 SS-Green Light Qore-24 Chevrolet Camaro. Jason Miller, crew chief for the Mooresville, NC based team, was excited for another chance to work with the driver out of the NTS Motorsports stable. Miller was quoted before going out Friday morning, "We ran really great at Loudon and Watkins Glen earlier in the season, and we have a great working relationship. (Newberry) gives us feedback that helps us make the changes to give him a better shot at a good finish." At the end of the first session, Newberry and SS-Green Light were 18th on the speed charts with 174.678 MPH lap. As Newberry climbed out to prepare for NCWTS Knockout Qualifying, the skies opened. Categorized as a "Heavy Mist", inclement weather settled over Joliet and all remaining track activities for the day were canceled. Moving the Lucas Oil 225 to the following evening, resulting in a Double Duty DAY for Newberry on Saturday.
Saturday morning the skies were clear and the sun was shining for the first time during NASCAR's visit to Chicagoland. Newberry prepared for his 3rd career session of NNS Knockout Qualifying. Throughout two rounds of laps at the fast, drafting dependent, Windy City speedway, Newberry did not find the company he needed in order to post his fastest lap. At the end of the second session, Newberry would post a fast time of 30.456 and earn a starting position of 22nd going into the 200 lap race. "I didn't get to hook up with the drivers that I wanted to find out there, but that is the nature of this new qualifying format. On a track as fast as Chicagoland, you really have to find some help getting through the air. The car was strong in qualifying but didn't get the help we wanted", said Newberry on the grid going into the Freaky Fast 300.
When the green flag was shown, Newberry settled into a spot mid-pack and was focused on learning the track more and more which each circuit. Limited practice time on Friday meant that the first portion of the event meant finding what line worked best for his No.55 Chevrolet. By lap 50, Newberry had already began making passes and was three wide for 2 consecutive laps fighting for position. When caution was displayed on lap 62, Newberry hit pit road for four tires, fuel, and a chassis adjustment. Approaching halfway, Crew Chief Jason Miller called to take the wave around and give his driver back one of the two laps lost throughout the first portion of the event and began saving fuel for the finish. As the laps continued to tick away, Newberry found himself just one lap down and racing to maintain a spot for the Lucky Dog. Holding off a competitor and staying just ahead of the leaders, a much needed caution was displayed with 32 laps to go and Newberry was once again on the lad lap. Moving up to 23rd, Newberry would hold his position until the checkers were displayed at lap 200 and had earned valuable seat time and learned how to get the most out of the track, as he headed straight to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series garage to compete the second leg of his back-to-back race schedule.
With qualifying canceled on Friday, Newberry's fast lap in final practice gained him a starting spot on the outside of the front to have a clear view of the race track coming to the green flag. Starting up front, Newberry was racing with the leaders and swapping positions back-and-forth before settling in 7th by lap 15. A competition caution was displayed on lap 30 for teams to check tires and make changes, pit stop problems resulted in Newberry exiting just outside the top ten in 11th for the first restart of the night. By the 62nd lap, the caution would come out once again and Newberry reported to his crew chief Ryan McKinney, "The truck is coming to is, we are really strong here, as more rubber is laid down, the better we get."
With only 35 laps to go, Brennan Newberry was running inside the top 10 as the fin al caution for the night was shown. Coming down pit road for four tires and fuel, NASCAR issued a speeding penalty to the No.9, resulting in Newberry lining up 13th for the final green flag run. Holding off trucks for position coming to the checkered flag, Newberry ended his 525 mile day with a finish in 13th with what he called, "One of the fastest trucks I've ever had". Newberry's next event in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will come at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire on Saturday, September 20th.
Brennan Newberry's Post Race Thoughts: "My double header weekend turned into a double day of racing between the NASCAR Nationwide Series the Camping World Truck Series. It was beneficial running both races due to the fact that this would be my first time visiting Chicagoland Speedway. The Qore-24 Chevrolet Silverado, prepared by NTS Motorsports, was a stellar truck, by far one of the best I have had the opportunity to compete with. The Qore-24 No.55 Chevrolet Camero, prepared by SS-Green Light Racing, had awesome speed as well in practice. In both races my goal was to complete all of the laps and gain the most experience I could. That's exactly what I did, and after 525 miles I am confident to say Chicagoland Speedway is one of my favorite 1.5 mile tracks we visit. I have to thank Qore-24, Chevrolet, NTS Motorsports, Bobby Dotter and the entire SS-Green Light Racing team for the awesome opportunity this weekend. Keeping the ball rolling."
Ryan McKinney's Post Race Thoughts (NCWTS): "We were really strong right off of the hauler this weekend in Chicago. We left the shop prepared and our equipment keeps getting better and better each time we go to the track. Brennan had a busy day on Saturday, but he gave every lap 100 percent and I couldn't be more proud of him and the entire No.9 NTS Motorsports Qore-24 team. Loudon is always a great place to compete and I am looking forward to keeping our momentum going into New Hampshire."
Jason Miller's Post Race Thoughts (NNS): "As always, it was a pleasure to work with Brennan this weekend. He had never raced at Chicagoland before and by the end of the day he had really learned the track and we ran a good race. Each time I get to work with Newberry our working relationship gets stronger and we are really learning what he needs in the car to be able to be competitive. I have to say thank you to Qore-24 and SS-Green Light for all the hard work and support throughout this weekend"
NTS Motorsports PR