Chase Pistone and the No.9 Chevrolet Silverado NogginRoundup.com NTS Motorsports team entered their first event together with a long list of notes and unknowns as they looked to tackle the famed Virginia flat track at Martinsville Speedway. After announcing just a few weeks prior that Pistone would be running a limited schedule with NTS Motorsports for the 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, everyone in Kernersville wondered how quickly the team would be acclimated to one another once the race weekend officially kicked off. Those inquiries were quickly reassured as soon the No.9 truck rolled out for the first time in practice on Friday. The first session gave teams almost three hours to test their setups and see where they stood for the Kroger 250 and Chase Pistone knew early that they had a fast Chevy Silverado in race trim. After the first two runs in the session the No.9 crew sat well inside the top ten looking to make their first mock qualifying runs of the day. After running more total laps than any other team and noticing that their truck was better for long runs, Pistone stood in fifteenth position with a fast lap of 19.913.
NASCAR Veteran crew chief Gere Kennon noticed early in final practice that saving tires for the finish would be critical to making sure that the team was strong in the late stages of the event. Setting up the NTS Motorsports truck to handle the track conditions, also meant making sure that his driver knew to save the Goodyear tires as long as possible. After multiple runs and minute changes, and delays after the weekend's first bout with rain, Pistone sat twelfth on the board holding a top lap of 20.121 and felt confident about his team's chances for a pole in qualifying, which was scheduled for Saturday.
As the scheduled start of the 16th Annual Kroger 250 drew closer on a dreary and overcast Saturday morning, Chase Pistone and his team watched the skies hoping for a chance to take on NASCAR's new and exciting qualifying format. After a day of track dryers making more laps than racecars and trucks NASCAR cancelled qualifying and set the field, per the rulebook, by combined practice speeds giving the No.9 team a start in fifteenth position. As wind and rain continued to stalk the venue race officials determined that the best course of action would be to set up a NASCAR doubleheader and The Kroger 250 would immediately follow the STP 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event on Sunday.
As the precipitation made is rejoiced departure from the Martinsville area early Sunday morning, fans filed in to see a full day of exciting competition on NASCAR's oldest active track. After waiting more than twenty-four hours for the start of the event, Chase Pistone strapped in to his No.9 NTS Motorsports truck to take his first green flag of the season. Starting on the inside of row eight he quickly took to the philosophy of "race the track as well as your competitors" for the first portion of the meeting. Just ten laps in, Martinsville claimed it first victim of the day and caution was displayed giving teams a chance to communicate with their driver about the conditions on track. Pistone relayed to Kennon that his truck was tight in the center and he was having a tough time getting the Chevy to turn. The tight condition would be a reoccurring issue for the NTS crew while they juggled chasing a changing racing surface and managing tire wear to make sure Pistone still had speed as the finish grew closer. After falling back to nineteenth and losing a lap to the leaders, a caution would be displayed just past halfway and Gere Kennon began to implement his plan to get Pistone back to the front.
Chase Pistone immediately noticed a new feeling to his NogginRoundup.com truck and after getting the free pass with only twenty-five laps remaining and he began to pick his way through the pack to finish strong. The competition began to heat up around Pistone as he was able to keep the fenders intact and drive through the "hornets' nest" erupting in front of him. After two attempts at a green-white-checkered finish the race ended under caution and Chase Pistone brought home a strong top-fifteen finish in thirteenth, showing everyone the true ability of NTS Motorsports in one of NASCAR's top divisions. The next Camping World Truck Series event for Pistone with NTS Motorsports will be at Gateway Speedway later this season.
Chase Pistone's Post-Race Thoughts:
"I feel like there were a lot of unknowns going into this weekend. After our strong finish at Martinsville I know that all of those questions have been answered and everyone knows that NTS Motorsports and I are going to have a great season together! Gere Kennon and I worked and communicated very well and were able to find speed in a truck that was tough to handle during the first portion of the race. I am looking very forward to my next race with my No.9 Chevrolet Silverado team at Gateway and I know we can go there and challenge for the win."
Gere Kennon's Post-Race Thoughts:
"Martinsville is always a challenge but the track is still strong after so many years because it is a great show for the fans and fun for the racers as well. I was proud to have Chase Pistone behind the wheel of our No.9 NTS Motorsports Chevy Silverado this weekend and I think everyone communicated and got to know each other very well. Chase's input was vital in figuring out what the truck needed so that he could run his race and save the equipment to be able to make a charge at the end of the race the way he did. I think that 2014 will be a strong showing for this team with Chase behind the wheel"