After celebrating his 21st birthday at the beginning of the week, Dakoda Armstrong traveled to Chicagoland Speedway with his No. 98 EverFi Toyota team for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series American Ethanol 225. Working through tight handling conditions for the majority of the evening, Armstrong survived several late restarts and three-wide battles to bring home a 16th place finish.
Both practice sessions on Friday afternoon produced a loose handling condition for Armstrong, triggering a major adjustment call by crew chief Dan Stillman for qualifying on Saturday afternoon. The changes seemed to help tighten up the EverFi Tundra, which also featured Syngenta Agrisure Artisan and Mudd Advertising this weekend. The rookie of the year contender was able to hold his No. 98 machine nearly wide open during his qualifying laps for the first time all weekend, laying down the 20th best time of the session.
The first of seven cautions came after just eight laps of green flag racing, giving Armstrong his first opportunity to report his Tundra's handling conditions to his ThorSport Racing crew. The loose condition he had felt during practice seemed to resurface in the first few laps of competition, but shortly after going back to the green, Armstrong reported that the truck had switched over to the tight side.
Adjustments made to the EverFi Tundra during the first two pit stops seemed to make only a slight difference for Armstrong as he continued to maintain his running position just outside the top-15. He fell one lap behind the leader just past the halfway point, but a strategy call by Stillman to stay out and get the wave around under the fourth caution on lap 100 helped Armstrong get back to the lead lap once again. Stillman made more adjustments under the final pit stop on lap 108 that seemed to make the No. 98 Tundra neutral for the rookie driver.
Two more cautions for incidents within the last 15 laps created a hornet's nest of competitors after each restart, giving Armstrong the opportunity to gain a few more positions with the finish line in sight. Carefully dodging the trouble that unfolded around him, including a spin directly in front of him coming across the finish line to take the checkered flag, Armstrong captured the 16th finishing position.
"Our EverFi Tundra was pretty neutral on the final run, but we just didn't have enough time to make anything happen. The restarts were really wild; there were other trucks all around me and it just seemed like there was nowhere to go. I think we could've picked up a top-10 finish there at the end if I could've just found a hole to make it happen on the final restart," Armstrong explained.
"I'm happy that we made it through tonight and Dan Stillman and the crew made some good changes to get us to where we needed to be at the end. We still have some work to do to get where we need to be, but we're getting better every week."
Dakoda Armstrong PR