Facing triple digit heat for the first time in 2012, Dakoda Armstrong and the rest of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitors struggled to conquer slick track conditions and survive the UNOH 225 on Thursday night at Kentucky Speedway. Armstrong's No. 98 EverFi Toyota Tundra team had high hopes entering the event after their driver scored his best career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) finish in the last visit to the Bluegrass State. The intense heat served up a challenge for Armstrong and his team during practice and qualifying, but after starting from the 26th postion, the rookie gained traction as the sun went down and claimed a 13th place finish.
Making some quick moves in the first two laps after the drop of the green, Armstrong jumped up six positions and rode quietly inside the top-20 for most of the first segment of the race. Under the first caution, crew chief Dan Stillman pulled his driver down pit road for fuel and a chassis adjustment, hoping to help the EverFi Tundra gain some grip on entry and exit of the corners. Armstrong toughed it out through slick track conditions over the next 40 laps, and came down pit road for four tires and adjustments on lap 64.
The first round of adjustments made under the pit stop seemed to help the EverFi machine, and Armstrong continued his climb up to the top-15. A close call came just a few laps later with a multi-truck accident directly in front of the No. 98 Tundra just after the restart. Narrowly dodging several spinning competitors, Armstrong came out clean with just minor damage to the splitter that did not hurt its performance.
ThorSport Racing teammate and ARCA Racing Series driver Frank Kimmel worked with Armstrong from the spotter's stand, giving him tips to improve his line throughout the rest of the night and found groove that helped him stay consistent on the long run. Cleanly making his way through several incidents and close calls after restarts in the second half of the race, Armstrong pushed forward to cross the stripe in 13th place.
"Our Toyota Tundra was definitely better at the end of the race than what it was when we started the day. Dan Stillman and the EverFi crew did a really great job of making adjustments throughout the race to help us keep up with the track as it cooled," Armstrong explained. "I was happy when the truck gained some grip on the long run because we were really able to make our passes then."
Armstrong wasn't surprised with the seven cautions that plagued the 150 lap race.
"I can't believe how slick the track was tonight, it was really wild. There was zero grip on the track surface because it was just so hot today, and it was especially hard to hang on to after all the restarts. I'm not surprised that there were as many wrecked race trucks as there was, I was almost one of them a few times. So I'm really happy we can come home with a good finish and in one piece."
Dakoda Armstrong PR