Coming off of a career best third place finish at Bristol a week earlier, Ross qualified the SS Green Light Racing entry sixteenth in the 36-truck field with a lap of 31.76 seconds at over 174.55 mph on the high-banked mile and half speedway just south of Atlanta.
Chastain was strong at the start of the race moving up several spots to thirteenth before he faded back to twentieth as the tires began to wear on his Melon 1 / Georgia Watermelon Association Toyota when the first caution came out on lap thirty-one.
“To be thirteenth or fourteenth in practice and qualify sixteenth and go backwards was definitely a surprise,” Chastain said. “I told the crew to loosen it up a little bit because I thought we were a tick tight on the first stop and we never really had a chance to reverse the changes.”
Shortly after the race restarted, Ross narrowly avoided disaster when Ron Hornaday and Tim George got together collecting Jason White; Ross was able to navigate through the incident without damage.
On the ensuing restart Ross was able to power his way up to fourteenth before settling in sixteenth for a long green flag run including a round of green flag pitstops. Kyle Busch was on a torrid pace through the middle of the 130-lap race putting all but the top-thirteen trucks a lap down.
The races third and final caution came for debris on lap 109 and Ross and several other trucks took the wave-around to get back on the tail of the lead lap leaving a set of tires incase of a late caution. Unfortunately, that last caution never came and Chastain’s truck became increasingly loose as the laps ticked-off forcing Ross to ease through the corners loosing valuable time.
"I thought at the start of the race we might be able to get a top-ten. We were really good for the first ten laps and then our Melon 1 Toyota would start to get loose and then the truck just got looser as the race went on," Ross explained. “We had another set of tires and if there would have been another caution, we were going to come in, put on the fresh tires, tighten it up a bit and I think we could have made a run towards the top-ten.”
Chastain was able to stay on the lead lap until just two laps from the checkers when Ty Dillon overtook him in-route to his first-ever NCWTS victory.
"I was just smoking the tires coming off the corners, I guess I should be happy that we didn’t wreck it,” he concluded.
Despite the disheartening finish, Ross moved closer to the top-fifteen in the NCWTS point standings trailing Dakoda Armstrong by just thirteen points. Chastain and the SS Green Light Racing Team will next race on September 15th at the Iowa Speedway.
Source: SS Green Light Racing