Natalie Decker Takes Home 16th Place Finish at Talladega

Natalie Decker Takes Home 16th Place Finish at Talladega Ann M. Wilson for Speedway Digest

Natalie Decker was in action Saturday, October 12th at Talladega Superspeedway, wheeling her No. 54 N29 Technologies LLC Toyota Tundra for DGR-Crosley.

After a full day of practice on Friday, Saturday's action kicked off with qualifying in the morning. Decker clocked in a 53.946, putting her in the 19th position to start the race.

In the first stages, Decker gained her comfortability from the back of the lead pack with it being her first Dega run in the truck. Additionally, when you consider her misfortune back in the season opener at Daytona on lap one, she considered this her first Superspeedway race in the truck.

"I was so excited to technically do my first superspeedway race in the truck series!" said Decker, "I love Talladega, and it was a great race!"

In the final stage they planned to pit with a few other trucks which would help to catch back up to the pack after pitting however as those trucks decided to peel off Decker was unable to pump up the brakes enough to slow the truck down and exit onto pit road forcing her to make another lap before pitting. Decker exited single car and with no help which ended up putting her a lap down.

With Talladega, comes the forward notion that carnage is always inevitable. Saturday was no different in that fact, with five cautions due to incidents and seven if you include the stage ends. Natalie was able to keep her truck clean and out of trouble through all of these incidents.

"The whole team worked really well together, and we missed a lot of wrecks," explained Decker.

There were two in particular that could have easily caused her trouble. The first one was on lap 10 as Harrison Burton in the No. 18 went for a spin in the tri-oval on the high side.

Decker went low on the apron, exiting the tri-oval to avoid this one.

Later near the end of the race, Ross Chastain in the No. 45 sparked the "Big One" of the race on lap 89, which involved 10 total trucks.  Decker was doing her best to get slowed down as Chastain and Timothy Peters in the No. 87 continued to collide in front of her blocking her from taking the high line. She was able to slow the truck down, as it slid off the track, following the path of Chastain.

However, despite ending up in the grass in turn four, Decker was able to stop her No. 54 machine and avoid any contact with others, coming to rest just inches away from Chastain's No. 45 machine. She fired back up, backed up, to get back on track and into the pits for tires.

The field was then frozen with a red flag as crews cleaned up the remnants of the carnage. Once they got back under yellow, Decker went back out, but had to start at the tail end of the field for pitting too early, one of four trucks that served this infraction after that wreck.

There was one final incident that happened on the track, with the No. 12 of Gus Dean getting spun while running in 3rd. This sent him nose-first into the inside wall hard. Dean was able to get out and checkout clear from the infield care center.

The final restart was a clean one as the field wrapped up the Sugarlands Shine 250, with Natalie crossing the finish line in 16th, just one lap down. It marks her 4th top 16 finish of the season. She will now take a week off from the track before heading the Martinsville Speedway for the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 on Saturday, October 26th.

"Wish we could've had a better finish than 16th." says Decker, "However, we will definitely take it and have good momentum going into Martinsville!"

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