John Wes Townley proved RAB Racing's No. 09 Zaxby's Toyota Tundra was fast in the early laps of Saturday's Smith's 350 at Las Vegas Speedway. Unfortunately, the team was unable to prove it in finishing position after a couple of late-race faux pas relegated Townley to a 14th-place finish.
In Friday's lone Camping World Truck Series practice, Townley posted speeds fast enough for the 16th position. Later that evening, the 22-year-old driver toured the 1.5-mile oval in 31.201 seconds, at an average speed of 173.071 mph in qualifying, placing him 19th in the starting lineup for Saturday evening's race.
From the drop of the green flag, Townley wasted no time powering his Tundra into the Top 10. An early caution period saw Townley bring his Zaxby's Tundra to pit road, but a miscue on an adjustment saw the rookie-of-the-year contender drop to the tail end of the field for the restart. When another yellow flag was displayed a handful of laps later, the Chris Rice -led crew was able to use pit strategy to place Townley in the third position for the Lap 35 restart.
The Watkinsville, G.A. native found his stride around the sixth position for much of the first half of the race.When an incident involving the Nos. 6 and 13 trucks left debris scattered along the frontstretch, Townley was unable to avoid a large piece that was sent airborne after being ran over by another competitor. The contact resulted in nose damage that would require a trip to pit road for routine service and repairs. The lost track position, coupled with a limited number of laps remaining, saw Townley running mid-pack as the laps wound down. Coming to the checkered flag, Townley made a daring move, as he drove to the apron to pass Travis Pastrana for the 14th position in the final running order.
"Our Zaxby's Tundra was really strong tonight," said Townley. "We had a few hiccups on pit road, and that set us back. I think we could have finished in the top 10, but we ran over some debris towards the end of the race, and that changed the handling of the truck. It wasn't the finish that we deserved, but it's the one we're leaving here with. We're heading to Talladega next week, and that's one of my favorite places to race, so we'll see what we can do with our Zaxby's Tundra there."
Despite finishing 14th, Townley continues to hold steady at 16th in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series point standings.
RAB Racing PR