Tayler Malsam Finishes Solidly in the 13th Position in First Trip to Atlanta; The 20-year-old Captures Raybestos Rookie of the Race Honors HAMPTON, Ga. -- Tayler Malsam saw Atlanta Motor Speedway for the first time as he drove through the...
Tayler Malsam Finishes Solidly in the 13th Position in First Trip to Atlanta; The 20-year-old Captures Raybestos Rookie of the Race Honors
HAMPTON, Ga. -- Tayler Malsam saw Atlanta Motor Speedway for the first time as he drove through the infield tunnel on Friday morning. Since the 20-year-old had never been on the 1.54-mile quad-oval before, both of Friday's practice sessions were used to get Malsam adjusted to one of the fastest tracks on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) circuit. Driving the same No. 81 One Eighty Toyota Tundra that raced two weeks ago at Auto Club Speedway, Malsam knew that the truck was capable of running well and up front. The Raybestos Rookie of the Year Contender battled hard throughout the American Commercial Lines 200 on Saturday afternoon and came home on the lead lap in the 13th position, capturing the Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors for the first time in his young career.
After qualifying in the 29th position, Malsam had his work cut out for him throughout the 130-lap race. Staying calm and confident, Malsam steadily moved his way up through the field and when the first caution came out on lap 29, the No. 81 One Eighty Toyota was running in the 20th position. Crew chief Doug Wolcott called Malsam to the attention of his Randy Moss Motorsports (RMM) team for four fresh tires and an air pressure adjustment on lap 30 and on the following lap, the Seattle, Wash. native returned to pit road for fuel. The RMM pit crew picked up five positions and on lap 34, Malsam restarted the race from the 15th position.
For the next 34 laps, the field was under a green-flag run in which the No. 81 One Eighty Tundra was fighting a loose condition and battling in the top-20. As the leader was quickly approaching Malsam, a timely caution for debris came out on lap 66 and allowed the rookie, who was running in the 16th position, to stay on the lead lap. Malsam radioed to Wolcott that the truck was good on long runs, but it needed help on the short runs. Wolcott once again brought Malsam down pit road for four tires and track bar adjustments on lap 68. The One Eighty Toyota returned to the pits the next lap for fuel and returned to the track in 13th-place.
A few laps after the restart, another wreck happened right in front of the No. 81 Toyota and Malsam skillfully maneuvered his way through without getting any damage to his truck. Wolcott told Malsam to stay out, which allowed the Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender to restart from the 11th position on lap 79. Malsam raced in the top-15 for the majority of the next green-flag run and on lap 110, the leader put him one lap down. However, good luck was on the northwest driver's side as the caution waved for the fourth time on lap 113 allowing Malsam and the RMM team the get the "lucky dog" pass and return to the lead lap. Lap 116 saw Malsam return to pit road to the attention of his pit crew for four fresh tires, returning the following lap for fuel. Malsam took the green flag for the restart from the 13th position on lap 119.
For the final 11 laps, Malsam wheeled his One Eighty Toyota around the difficult track and came home in the 13th position. This impressive run was the second top-15 finish for the No.81 Randy Moss Motorsports team. Malsam also captured the Raybestos Rookie of the Race award, as he was the highest finishing rookie. Leaving the infield of Atlanta Motor Speedway after Saturday's race, Malsam had achieved his goals for the weekend: finish the race in the top-15, on the lead lap, and without any damage on his truck.
"This One Eighty Randy Moss Motorsports team did awesome," said Malsam. "I screwed up in qualifying and just wasn't good in practice but these guys stuck behind me and gave me a truck that I could race with and I gave them what I had. I wasn't very good on restarts but Doug (Wolcott, crew chief) and the guys just made an awesome truck for us. Yesterday in practice, the truck was probably there, I just wasn't there. I couldn't figure out the track, I couldn't figure out what I needed to do. But once we got out here in the race and got some laps under our belts, it was really good. I'm really proud of these Randy Moss guys and this One Eighty Tundra was awesome today. It's hard sometimes to learn tire management, but with Slugger (Labbe, spotter) up on the tower and Doug (Wolcott) on the box, it's pretty easy. They kind of explain everything in a 20-year-old's mind so it makes it a little bit easier for me. I couldn't be more proud of my guys and we will go get them Martinsville now."
Malsam is currently third in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings, two points behind second-place and only three points behind leader J.R. Fitzpatrick. Also, Malsam picked up three positions in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship point standings and now sits in the 13th position, 35 points out of the 10th position and 87 points behind fourth-place.
After a two-week break, Tayler Malsam and the No. 81 Randy Moss Motorsports Toyota Tundra team will return to racing action at Martinsville Speedway for the running of the Kroger 250 on Saturday, March 28, 2009.