Hot-Lanta Turns Up Cold for Rookies
While the action on-track may have been hot and thrilling, three of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookies didn’t have much luck as they struggled throughout the race. While Noah Gragson was able to fight back for a top-15 finish, the same couldn’t be said of the Brad Keselowski Racing pair.
For Gragson, there were high hopes after showing speed in practice and qualifying 10th for the Active Pest Control 100. However, a three-wide move on the first lap didn’t go as planned, with Gragson’s No. 18 Switch Toyota Tundra getting loose and going around, collecting Brett Moffitt in the process. With minimal damage to his truck, Gragson was able to join up at the back of the field for the restart and continue.
From there on, the rookie slowly worked his way back up through the field, crossing the finish line in 14th.
I made a mistake early in the race. I let my team and fans down tonight. I take full responsibility. We fought back to finish 14th.
— Noah Gragson (@NoahGragson) March 5, 2017
So far this year, the season hasn’t treated Gragson too kindly as he was one of the trucks involved in the Lap 2 wreck at Daytona International Speedway last weekend.
While Gragson’s issues started on the track, the problems for the BKR rookies began on pit road.
After qualifying in the top-five, Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe started off their days well as they battled for positions within the top-10, finishing fifth and eighth in the first stage to earn points. Under the caution, both drivers hit pit road, and the problem started. Cindric got penalized for an uncontrolled tire, while Briscoe had a flat tire immediately following his pit stop, forcing him to come back down pit road as the field went back to green. Briscoe posted on Twitter post-race the tire went flat as a result of the valve stem getting knocked off.
While Briscoe’s issue caused him to go multiple laps down in the process, Cindric was able to start making his way back to the front, putting himself back in the top-10 with about 20 laps to go. However, his run was cut short with six to go as Grant Enfinger came down a little, making slight contact with Cindric’s No. 19 Draw-Tile/Reese Brands Ford and causing him to spin.
Restarting at the back of the field with two laps to go, he wasn’t able to make up much ground, and as a result, Cindric finished 21st with Briscoe 25th.
…Aerodynamics, hard to point a finger on that one. Frustrating. At least that fast truck is saved for another day https://t.co/wvcUPWaJPY
— Austin Cindric (@AustinCindric) March 5, 2017
Dang… hate it for my guys. We had a really good truck today and circumstances out of our control cost us… Onto the next one.
— Chase Briscoe (@ChaseBriscoe5) March 5, 2017
For Cindric, it just adds to the pain as he was also caught up in the same Lap 2 wreck which knocked Gragson out of the race at Daytona. Meanwhile, for Briscoe, this marks his first bad finish of the year as he was able to post a third-place finish at Daytona.
While the rookies may not be feeling good about their performances, it’s worth noting that Atlanta has a history of not being kind to rookies. Last season in his rookie year, Christopher Bell found himself out of the race after cutting a tire and hitting the wall with nine laps to go. We all know how that ended for Bell last year, as he made the Chase and was one of the Championship 4, before coming back to win this year.
Perhaps one of these three can write the same type of chapter for their future.
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