Ross Chastain (@RossChastain), driver of the No. 19 Melon 1 Ford F-150, made his 14th start for Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) and his second start at Homestead-Miami Speedway during Friday night’s Ford EcoBoost 200 after qualifying in the fifth position earlier that evening.
Chastain struggled with a loose handling Truck early, dropping back to the 17th position by lap four. When the first caution flew on lap five, crew chief, Chad Kendrick brought the Melon 1 Ford down pit road for four tires, fuel and a major track bar adjustment.
When the second caution of the night was displayed on lap 40, Chastain radioed to the team with the feedback that he was still very loose, but Kendrick kept him out for track position.
On lap 63, Chastain brought his Ford F-150 down pit road for four tires, fuel, coming in 11th and restarting 10th, with the pit crew gaining one spot on the restart.
On lap 93, momentum began to shift to Chastain’s side as he moved towards the top 10. The Melon 1 Ford F-150 came in for right-side tires and no adjustments, getting off pit road first and restarting first with 38 to go. Chastain fell into second position before the caution fell again on lap 101.
Chastain brought his Melon 1 Ford in for the final time on lap 130 for a track bar adjustment, fuel and tires. The first attempt at a green-white-checker, Chastain slipped back a few spots. By the final attempt at a green-white-checker, Chastain had positioned himself nicely to solidify an eighth place finish in a well-deserved effort.
The No. 19 BKR team finished the season fourth in the NCWTS owner points standings, 40 points back from first.
“What an up and down day it was for us in the Melon 1 Ford F-150. I have to give a tremendous amount of credit to my team; they never gave up, and were a pleasure to work with all year. The credit goes to those guys who gave me good equipment throughout the season. I want to thank Brad Keselowski, Reese Towpower, Draw-Tite and Melon 1 for the opportunity this season.” – Ross Chastain
Ryan Blaney (@RyanBlaney22), driver of the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford F-150, made his second career start at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) during the Ford EcoBoost 200 on Friday night, after winning his second pole of the season during qualifying earlier in the evening.
Blaney got off to a hot start, leading 37 out of the first 40 laps of the race. Crew chief, Doug Randolph brought Blaney to pit road for fuel and four tires on lap 40 under the second caution of the night. Blaney’s only issue, was a lack of grip on his Cooper Standard Ford. The pit crew was lightning fast, winning the race off pit road.
The No. 54 brought out the second caution of the night on lap 63 for a wreck in turn four. Blaney restarted in the second position on lap 69 and by lap 78 he overtook the No. 51 truck for the lead once again.
Blaney tagged the wall while leading on lap 93, which damaged the Cooper Standard Ford F-150 enough to bring out the caution, and forcing the team to make two pit stops to fix the front splitter and tape the right-side. He restarted 26th with 38 laps to go.
By lap 118, Blaney had moved all the way back inside the top 10, with his sights focused on the front of the field.
It took three attempts at a green-white-checker in order to close the books on the 2013 season. Blaney was relentless, and drove all the way up to the second position before the checkered flag dropped.
The No. 29 BKR team finished the season sixth in the NCWTS driver points standings, 78 points back from first.
Blaney secured NCWTS Rookie of the Year honors, and made NASCAR history by becoming the youngest winner of the award in the Truck Series.
“Overall a strong showing and season for my Cooper Standard team. I wish I didn’t get into the wall, because we had something for the No. 51 tonight. We’ve come a long way all year, and I’m thrilled to be a part of Brad Keselowski’s organization. I am looking forward to working with these guys in the off-season to build on where we left off for 2014.” – Ryan Blaney