Cale Gale drove the No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet to a 17th-place finish on Sunday afternoon as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) took center stage for its inaugural race at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway. Known for wearing out tires and bumps through the corners, teams expected the track commonly known as "The Rock" to be a challenge for many drivers.
Having never raced at The Rock before, the NCWTS teams were granted two hour-and-a-half practice sessions on Friday in addition to the typical two hour-long practice sessions on Saturday afternoon. Teams were forced to pace their tire use throughout the four sessions to ensure that they would have plenty of fresh Goodyear tires for the 200-lap race on Sunday afternoon. Cale Gale and the No. 33 Rheem team spent the practice sessions working through a few spring and setup options until they found something they really liked on Saturday morning. Gale posted a 25.027-second lap during that practice session--his quickest of the weekend to that point--which made him the 11th-quickest truck overall during Saturday's practice sessions.
Gale rolled off 13th in the No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet for the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 200 on Sunday afternoon. He promptly picked up two positions to move in to 11th-place before the caution flag was displayed on lap five. Gale called in to his crew to say that his truck was a little snugger on takeoff than during practice, but otherwise the Rheem Chevrolet seemed to be dialed in. As the tires fell off during the next run, the Rheem Chevrolet needed more rear grip prompting crew chief Jerry Baxter to call for an air pressure adjustment during the lap 61 caution period.
As the race progressed, the handling on the Rheem Chevrolet faltered. Gale tried to run different lines around the track and found his truck was especially loose around the low line. The team also noted that Gale needed more help getting through turns three and four, and began to plan their adjustments accordingly. With a race that was mostly long green-flag runs, the No. 33 team had limited opportunities to dial in the Rheem Chevrolet. During the third caution period, Baxter called for a track bar change and spring rubber adjustment which seemed to have a positive reaction on Gale's Silverado.
When the final caution came out on lap 175, Gale was scored in the 21st position. The 27-year-old brought his Chevrolet down pit road and the crew made one more track bar adjustment. Gale picked up four positions in the final 20 laps to be credited with a 17th-place finish at The Rock.
"Our Rheem Chevrolet was really loose at the start of the race," commented Gale. "Jerry Baxter and all the guys continued to work hard throughout the afternoon to make our truck better. By the end of the race, our truck was the best it had been all day but unfortunately it was too late to make up much ground. I would like to thank the entire Rheem team for all their hard work this weekend. I feel like we got better at our communication as a team, and no one ever gave up. We are all really excited to go to Kansas; it's a fun city and a track that I've run well at in the past. I think it will be a lot of fun."
It will be a quick turnaround for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as the series is back in action this Saturday, April 21, at Kansas Speedway. Fans can tune in to SPEED to see final practice on Friday, April 20, at 3:00 p.m. ET, and qualifying at 10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday morning. Race coverage of the SFP 250 will begin at 1:00 p.m. ET on SPEED, MRN Radio and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio on Saturday, April 21st. As always, fans can visit www.teamesr.com, www.twitter.com/teamesr, or www.facebook.com/TeamESR for the latest news and updates about Cale Gale and the No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet Silverado team.