The long awaited return to racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) at Daytona International Speedway was greeted by disaster for most of the 36 teams and drivers in the field. Not excluded from that group was Dakoda Armstrong and his No. 98 EverFi Toyota Tundra team in the first event of their rookie campaign.
In his eighth career NCWTS attempt for ThorSport Racing in the truck series, Armstrong was happy with his Tundra throughout practice on Thursday. Qualifying just ahead of his teammates on Friday afternoon, the Indiana-native positioned himself in the 19th spot for the drop of the green.
Armstrong dropped back from that starting position during the first few laps of the scheduled 250 mile distance, just out of reach of the lead pack. However, by lap 10 the Rookie of the Year contender had methodically picked his way through the small group of trucks ahead of him and cruised back towards the front of the field with little to no drafting help for each pass.
Disaster struck shortly after Armstrong's climb into the top-15 when a lapped vehicle spun directly in front of him. The accident left Armstrong with no place to go, sending him spinning as well towards the outside retaining wall. A brush with that wall caused damage to the left rear of the Tundra and a vibration that would bring the rookie to the garage area.
Armstrong's ThorSport Racing crew went to work immediately after their driver pulled the EverFi Toyota behind the wall, checking for damage from the contact. Unable to find any extensive damage, the crew sent Armstrong back onto the track for a few more laps. Shortly following his return to competition, Armstrong radioed his crew that something broke in the rear end of his Tundra, causing the left rear tire to go down and cause extensive damage to the truck.
"I saw the lapped truck coming back through the pack up ahead and then lose it next to the truck in front of me. When I tried to turn down to avoid the wreck in front of me I just over corrected and the truck spun around and brushed the wall," Armstrong noted as he explained the lap 18 incident.
"It's really disappointing because my guys worked really hard and our EverFi Tundra was really fast. I was able to run down other trucks and pass them with no help before the accident, which is huge in the draft. I guess the silver lining in all of this is that the truck isn't torn up too bad and we'll be able to bring it to Talladega and know we'll be fast."
Competing for Rookie of the Year honors in the 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Armstrong and the No. 98 ThorSport Racing crew will travel to the second race of the season at Martinsville Speedway on March 31. The Kroger 250 at Martinsville will mark Armstrong's first career start at the half-mile oval. For updates on Dakoda Armstrong and ThorSport Racing, follow us on Twitter and Facebook (@ThorSportRacing), and visit our website ThorSport.com.\