Timothy Peters and the No. 17 Red Horse Racing team traveled to Phoenix International Raceway on Friday night for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 150 looking to improve on their previous record at the 1-mile oval. Fighting hard for a shot at the championship heading into the final two races of the season, Peters and his crew utilized strategy and patience to avoid all nine cautions during the evening and came home with a fourth place finish.
Pleased with the balance of their Toyota Tundra on the long run during both practice sessions on Thursday, the No. 17 team and Peters had confidence heading into qualifying and the race on Friday. Starting the night from the eighth position, Peters held steady in the opening laps and moved to the seventh spot where he remained until the first round of pit stops under caution on lap 38. Reporting he was a little loose on one end, and a little tight on the other, Peters received two fresh right side tires and a few adjustments from his Red Horse Racing team, returning to competition to restart in second.
Steering clear of several incidents in a row over the next 14 laps after the restart, Peters battled inside the top three until the fourth caution on lap 55. Just before retaking the green flag, crew chief Butch Hylton decided to gamble and bring his driver down pit road for four tires and fuel, attempting to stretch the fuel and make it to the end without another pit stop. After topping off with fuel with one lap before the restart, Peters rejoined the field on lap 64 at the tail end of the lead lap and dodged two more incidents over the next twenty laps.
The sixth caution of the night on lap 74 brought the majority of the lead pack down pit road, moving Peters forward to the second position for the restart. Staying quiet over the radio for the next green flag run, Peters remained within striking distance of the leaders but elected to comfortably maintain his pace. The next caution on lap 104 brought the trucks in front of him down pit road and put Peters in the lead for the first time. Though he was only able to fend off his competitors for a few laps, Peters gained the points he needed for leading laps and settled back inside the top-three in the running order.
After nearly 45 laps of green flag racing, the new pavement continued to give the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitors grief just before the white flag, setting up a green-white-checkered restart situation. Sitting in the third position after comfortably riding in that very spot during the extended green flag run, Peters made a strong move on the restart but slid back to the fourth position, where he crossed the checkered flag.
"It was a crazy night and I'm just glad we finished because it was a big points night for us," Peters said.
"But it's sort of bittersweet for me, because I know we had a better Tundra than the fourth place finish shows. This Red Horse Racing team worked really hard all day to give me a fast truck and they did just that. Butch Hylton made a great strategy call in the middle of the race to put us in position for this finish and now we have a legitimate shot at this championship heading into Homestead. That's all we can really ask for."