Haley has first truck triumph
After a long week of rain and thunderstorms in the Midwest, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series was able to get on the 1.25-mile oval last Friday and Saturday at the Gateway Motorsports Complex in Madison, Illinois. Winamac’s Justin Haley would finally see his hard work pay off in his 37th NASCAR Truck series start.
After participating in a Goodyear tire test earlier in the season to check compounds for the freshly repaved surface, the No. 24 GMS Racing team thought they had a pretty fast setup for their newly built Chevy truck. During the three practice sessions, Haley would flirt with the top 10 spots, but in a telling stat, in the final practice he would post the fastest 10-lap consecutive average.
At the start of the 160-lap, 200-mile race Haley would be a touch loose and give up a few spots, finishing the 35-lap first stage in fifth. After pitting for four tires, fuel, chassis and an air adjustment at the stage break, the No. 24 Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet would restart from the 16th spot. During the 35-lap second stage, Haley would battle back to the tenth spot. Four tires, fuel and more adjustments during the second stage break would put the team in the 11th spot for the final stage.
Haley worked his way quickly up to ninth, then a fast pit stop under a caution would see the No. 24 restart from fourth on lap 104. Laps later John Hunter Nemechek would hit debris, causing an oil spill around the track for a red flag cleanup, but moving Haley into third.
At the restart with 37 laps to go, Haley would move to second on the restart and pace the leader as the two moved away from the pack with oil absorbent dust still making the top groove sketchy. As Haley’s speeds and lap times started besting the leader, a caution would bunch the field together for a restart with Haley’s teammate, Johnny Sauter, behind him in fourth. Haley would maintain second on the restart, then another yellow.
Restarting with eight laps to go, Todd Gilliland would give Haley a huge push on the outside to take the lead from Noah Gragson, then aggravation, as the caution flew.
For the final restart Haley would be in first, with teammate Sauter in second.
After another perfect execution as the green dropped, Haley powered into first place again for the green, white, checkered two-lap dash. Pulling 8-10 lengths on the now second-place truck of Gilliland, Haley took his first checkered flag and race win of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career.