Starting off his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) debut at Iowa Speedway in Newton on a high note, Friday night's American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen quickly took a turn for the worse, and Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Cameron Hayley, was relegated to a 19th-place finish.
Wrapping up Friday morning's practice session 5th-quick overall and backing that up with a 5th-place qualifying effort, the Canadian driver looked poised to be a top contender in the 200-lap event.
However, when the green flag dropped to start the race, Hayley got stuck behind the No.19, who missed a shift, dropping him back mid-pack. Crew chief Jeff Hensley used that opportunity to bring the No. 13 Cabinets by Hayley Toyota Tundra down pit road, under caution, at lap 26 for four tires, fuel and a rubber in the right rear to help aid a "tight" handling Toyota Tundra.
Restarting 17th at lap 30, Hayley rocketed through the field over the ensuing laps before the third caution flag was waved just 12 laps later. The No.13 ThorSport Racing team used pit strategy to their advantage, allowing Hayley to stay out on the race track while a majority of the leaders elected to pit. Restarting second on lap 50, alongside teammate Johnny Sauter, Hayley was able to muscle his way into the lead, where he remained, leading a career-high 37 laps.
Hayley, who was eventually overtaken by his ThorSport Racing teammate, Matt Crafton, during a long green-flag run, was forced to come down pit road for four fresh tires and fuel, under green, just past the race's half-way mark. However, trouble with the wedge wrench coupled with the jack dropping prematurely, put Hayley two laps down to the leaders when he returned to the race track.
Less than 10 laps later, while racing teammate Sauter, Hayley's Toyota Tundra got loose and whipped around on the backstretch, but avoided damage, bringing out the fourth caution of the night on lap 122.
Trying to stay within striking distance of the lap down trucks in front of him, the 18-year-old driver stayed on the track under caution at lap 152 to receive the "wave around," giving him one of his two laps back. However, bad luck struck the No.13 again when Hayley was forced to pit with a flat tire, disqualifying him from getting a lap back.
With the final laps winding down, the Sunoco Rookie contender's chances of getting back on the lead lap were dwindling as well. Continuing to run lap times comparable to the leaders, Hayley had no way of making up ground, forcing the Canadian driver to cross the finish line at the conclusion of the 200-lap race in the 19th position, two laps down to race winner Erik Jones.
"It was just one of those nights where things didn't go our way. It happens in racing, it can't always be your night. It's hard to be too mad though. We led almost 40 laps tonight and it's clear my guys put their heart and soul into this Cabinets by Hayley Toyota Tundra. I have a bunch of great guys on my team and I'm confident a win will come our way soon. It's only a matter of time."