Gray Gaulding and the No.20 Gemini Southern / Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Chevrolet Silverado bring home a 14th place finish, in the annual Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway, after racing well inside the Top-5 for the majority of the afternoon.
With two practice sessions on Friday, Gaulding worked with crew chief Chris Rice on his truck's turn in the middle and it's drive off the corners. Gaulding posted the second quickest time during Friday's opening fifty minute practice session, only 0.001 off the fastest time. After a thirty minute break, Gaulding and the No.20 team were back on track, for the final eighty-five minute practice session. Gaulding posted the tenth quickest time, after turning forty-six laps during Friday's final practice session.
In round one of two knockout qualifying rounds, a thirty minute session, Gaulding posted the seventh quickest time, and was part of the top twelve drivers transferring to the final round. In the final round, Gaulding posted the sixth quickest time and would start on the outside of row three, for the afternoon's Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway.
When the green flag dropped for the 16th annual Kroger 200 shortly after 1:40pm, Gaulding slid back into seventh spot, as the field got single file. With an early caution, Gaulding restarted seventh on lap seven, and was able to move inside the Top-5 at lap 13, before the second caution flag flew at lap twenty-seven. The green flag was displayed once again at lap thirty-four, with Gaulding restarting fifth, and he was able to move into fourth at lap thirty-seven, third on lap thirty-nine and into the second spot at lap forty-four.
The third caution flag flew at lap forty-five and when the green flag was displayed once again at lap fifty-two, Gaulding restarted second on the outside lane and in got up into the marbles in turn one and slid back outside the Top-25. Another caution flew at lap fifty-five and Crew Chief, Chris Rice decided to bring Gray down pit road for four tires and fuel. Restarting twenty-seventh at lap sixty-one, Gray had moved back inside the top-20 by lap seventy and was inside the Top-15 at lap ninety. The fifth caution flag flew just past halfway, at lap 101 of 200. As the leaders pitted, Gaulding stayed out and would restart fourth at lap one hundred seven.
The sixth caution flag flew at lap one hundred and thirty-seven, and Gaulding was able to maintain his track position inside the Top-10, before pitting for the second time for four tires, fuel, and chassis adjustment. The green flag dropped again at lap one hundred and forty-nine, and after several more cautions, Gray was able to move back inside the Top-15 for the second time of the day. During the closing laps, a left rear tire went flat and Gaulding would have to pit a third and final time with less than forty laps to go and would work his way back towards the front of the field.
From the Driver's Seat with Gray Gaulding: "We was able to show that we have the speed to run upfront today and I feel like we passed more cars than anybody. Chris Rice and all the guys at NTS Motorsports gave me a great truck that just had great speed, from the time we unloaded on Friday. I can't wait to get back in the truck in a few weeks at Phoenix."
On top of Box with Crew Chief Chris Rice: "Everyone at NTS Motorsports did a phenomenal job this weekend, both Gray and Brennan did a terrific job and it shows all the hard work that everyone has been putting in back at the shop, at the track, and on pit road is paying off. We will keep building and moving forward."
NTS Motorsports PR