Tifft Takes Ninth in the Windy and Rainy City
After heavy rain washed out the American Ethanol 225 Friday night at Chicagoland Speedway, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returned Saturday morning for the 150-lap event. Matt Tifft drove from the back of the field in his No. 54 NASCAR '15 Victory Edition Tundra to finish ninth, his fourth top-10 finish of the season.
Tifft would have started 18th based on practice speeds since qualifying was rained out as well, but the Kyle Busch Motorsports team changed the engine early Saturday morning since water got into the oil and engine after the heavy rains which forced Tifft to start from the rear of the field. He did not stay back there for long as he was 15th by lap 20. The team also faced a challenge early in the race with Tifft's radio. The team could not hear Tifft, although he could hear them.
Tifft was able to signal the Tundra was tight before his first pit stop for the competition caution on lap 32. He was able to fix his radio issue while the team gave him four tires and a track bar adjustment to free up the Tundra. He returned to the track 13th for the restart on lap 37.
A long green-flag run followed the competition caution and Tifft's Tundra showed drastic improvement. Just as he was about to pit under green while running 10th a caution came on lap 82. Once the pits were open he came in for four tires and a slight air pressure adjustment. During this long caution a few teams opted to top-off their fuel before the race resumed on lap 96. Tifft stayed out and was up to fourth when the race continued.
After a great restart he jumped up to second, but then fell back to 10th with 50 to go. The race ended with another long green-flag run forcing teams to gamble a bit with their fuel strategies. Tifft pitted with 14 laps to go and was 13th with 10 laps remaining. He gained a few spots as other drivers pitted for fuel, and some who thought they could make it ran out of gas in the closing laps. Tifft had plenty of fuel to go the distance and finished the race ninth.
"We had to go to the back because we changed a motor - we wanted to be cautious with the water in there that we found last night from the rain so that was a good call," Tifft said. "There on that first run, we had some communication problems with the radio, but we got that fixed during the first caution and came in and made some really good adjustments. The second run, the long run, we picked up a lot of spots. We got to the end and it was just kind of weird pit strategy going on and fuel mileage strategy. It worked out for us to get a top-10 finish - it ended up being a decent finish for our No. 54 NASCAR '15 Victory Edition Tundra."
John Hunter Nemechek won the race followed by Tyler Reddick and Timothy Peters. KBM's Daniel Suarez was fourth and Johnny Sauter rounded out the top five. KBM's Erik Jones was sixth and continues to lead the points. The No. 54 team remains 12th in the owner's championship point standings.
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