Justin Haley returned to Phoenix Raceway, the site of his first NCWTS top-10, looking to use his experience at the one-mile track to earn his first win. After struggling early in the day during the only practice session, Haley qualified in the 16th position for the Lucas Oil 150.
As the sun set and track conditions changed for the start of the 150-lap race, Haley’s No. 24 Fraternal of Eagles Chevrolet fired off too tight center, a condition he would face throughout the first two stages of the event, and struggled to advance into the top-15. Knowing they would need to earn track position on the final pit stop of the night to compete for the lead, crew chief Kevin Bellicourt called his driver to pit road for two tires, fuel and one final adjustment to loosen up his Chevrolet Silverado. Haley restarted in the third position on lap 87 and maintained his position before falling back to fifth just before the third caution of the day and first of three red flag periods.
Haley reported to the team that the Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevy was good on short runs and he felt confident he could stay up front in the final laps. As the field returned to green on lap 140 following the second red flag, Haley was running fourth as the leaders made contact sending the 18 truck into his path. Heavy damage from the hard hit ended the 18-year-old’s night and what had looked to be another top-five finish for the rookie driver.
“That was definitely not the way we had hoped our night would end. We made a lot out of a little and were having another really solid run, a shot at another top five, but it just didn’t work out for us. Kevin made a great call to get us track position and we had good short run speed that I really thought was going to work out in our favor after the second red flag. This No. 24 team has really been on it the last few weeks and we’ve learned so much, so I think we’re for sure going to be a contender when we get to Miami.”
GMS Racing PR