NCWTS: Roller-Coaster Day Ends With Two Top-10 Finishes for GMS Racing at Martinsville

Jacob Seelman Featured, NASCAR, Southeast 0 Comments

RIDGEWAY, Va. — Story by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR photo —

GMS Racing’s day was a tale of two ends on Saturday at Martinsville Speedway.

While Kyle Larson led 79 laps and led the team with a fourth-place effort after being up front all afternoon, the other three Chevrolet Silverados in the Maury Gallagher-owned four-truck fleet all encountered various issues that took them out of winning contention in the Alpha Energy Solutions 250.

Veteran and Daytona winner Johnny Sauter melted a bead on the right-front tire of his No. 21 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Chevrolet to kick off the chaos, slamming the turn three wall on lap 42 while running second to bring out the first caution of the day — ending his run at victory in the race’s first quarter.

“We just burned the bead off,” Sauter said. “I didn’t think I was really running that hard, I guess I have to learn how to drive around here with no brakes.”

His rookie teammate, Kaz Grala, would meet the same end on lap 92 as he lost a right-front tire and pounded the turn four SAFER Barrier to draw the race’s second yellow.

Grala, who had a skirmish with the outside in Friday’s second practice session that caused minor damage to the back end of his No. 33 Allegiant Air Chevy, qualified 22nd for his Truck debut but was solidly working his way through the field — battling inside the top 15 before his crash took the second GMS entry out of the action.

Gallagher ended up turned around twice on the afternoon at Martinsville Speedway, but still rallied to finish sixth. (Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images for NASCAR photo)

Gallagher ended up turned around twice on the afternoon at Martinsville Speedway, but still rallied to finish sixth.
(Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images for NASCAR photo)

And to cap off the disastrous mojo for the fourth-year team, Spencer Gallagher was involved in three separate incidents — just one of his own making — that seemingly ended any chance he had for a solid finish.

Gallagher’s first mishap came at lap 134, when he was tagged by Ryan Truex in turns three and four and went around, but he rallied through pit strategy and gutsy driving to run fourth for a restart with 80 to go.

However, it was that pivotal green flag that took Gallagher out of contention.

The son of team owner Maury Gallagher was tagged by sixth-running Spencer Boyd’s No. 63 Mittler Brothers entry entering turn one, seeing both drivers spin and relegating them deep into the pack for the race’s final third.

Gallagher would ultimately send the No. 44 of Austin Wayne Self around 30 laps later for his third involvement of the day, but somehow managed to avoid the carnage of two red flags in the final 20 laps to bring the No. 23 Alamo Rentals Chevrolet home in sixth — a roller-coaster day that ended with a smile for the sophomore Truck driver and his ninth career top 10 finish.

Grala and Sauter were credited as the first two trucks officially retiring from the event, finishing 31st and 32nd, respectively.

For Larson, however, his frustration boiled after the race. The former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie of the year was unceremoniously shoved aside by then third-running John Hunter Nemechek on the restart with 17 laps to go, a start that ultimately triggered the first of two red flag periods in the closing stages.

The Elk Grove, California driver fell back to seventh in that exchange and was nearly caught up in the carnage, expressing his displeasure with Nemechek after the race.

“Today was a solid day and I had a lot of fun,” Larson said. “I normally don’t have a lot of fun at Martinsville, so it was good to lead some laps. It’s been a really solid weekend so far — I’ve been fast in both the Truck Series and the Cup Series (cars) — so I think doing double duty has really helped.”

“I thought we could have had a little bit better finish, but John Hunter forgot he had a brake pedal there … before the end. Hopefully I’ll get to run some more (Truck races) for these GMS Racing guys, and maybe I’ll forget to have a brake pedal next time I’m behind him.”

Leaving Martinsville, Gallagher sits ninth in the series standings, three points outside of the cutoff on the provisional Chase Grid. Sauter is 17th in points but second on the Chase Grid after his win at Daytona in February, and the No. 33 truck — shared by Grala and reigning ARCA champion Grant Enfinger — is 18th on that rundown.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series now takes a month off before returning to the race track on Friday, May 6 for the Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway.

 

About the Writer

Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network. Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.

The 22-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.

Email Jacob at: speed77radio@gmail.com

Follow on Twitter: @Speed77Radio or @JacobSeelman77

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