ANOTHER TOP-20 FOR LESTER AND BALLEW WITH ALLSTATE Bill Lester took to the track with anticipation this weekend, carrying the name of the title sponsor of the Allstat 400 at the Brickyard0x00ae on his No. 15 Allstate Chevrolet Silverado in ...
ANOTHER TOP-20 FOR LESTER AND BALLEW WITH ALLSTATE
Bill Lester took to the track with anticipation this weekend, carrying the name of the title sponsor of the Allstat 400 at the Brickyard0x00ae on his No. 15 Allstate Chevrolet Silverado in Friday's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at the O'Reilly Raceway Park (ORP).
The Billy Ballew Motorsports team has been on a streak of solid runs, including the team and driver's best finishes of eighth in the last race at Memphis Motorsports Park. The team hoped to carry that momentum into ORP, but struggled in practice to get the handling where it needed to be.
Crew chief Doug George and the team worked diligently to fix the problem in order to put the truck in the top-10 for the start of the race. That top-10 start was not meant to be when a drenching rain came over the track and canceled the qualifying session. As the NASCAR rules state after a rainout of qualifying, the teams would line up by owner points. This lineup placed Lester 22nd on the grid for the 200 lap event.
Rain continued to fall past the scheduled start time of the race causing delays, but the clouds finally dissipated allowing the trucks to get on track at approximately 10:20 p.m.
When the first caution flag flew on lap nine, Lester had already picked up a spot on the track, but the truck was still tight from the center and off the corners. Since track position is vital on the .686-mile short track, Lester persevered searching for the preferred line to help with the tight condition, but knowing that even when the caution flags flew -- he was going to wait to pit in order to gain better track position.
Lester waited until the caution on lap 79 to come down pit road for four tires, track bar adjustments, fuel and a fresh set of Goodyear tires while running in his lowest position in the race of twenty-second. After the restart, the trucks handling improved where Lester had moved to his highest position of the race in the 12th spot by lap 130.
When the caution had returned on lap 134, Lester reported that he had scraped the wall barely touching while racing Tim Sauter hard for the position. Lester's truck received no damage and continued without pitting. He continued to battle Tim Sauter in the No. 07 truck. The two were neck and neck until Lester's tight condition returned and he was passed on lap 140 by Sauter and another competitor who had tucked in and got by Lester on the inside. By lap 155, Lester reported that the Silverado was better but they had some font end chatter that they would work on during the next pit stop. That stop occurred under the eighth of nine caution periods on lap 185 where Lester again received wedge and air pressure adjustments, tires and fuel. A lug nut got stuck while the tire was being changed slowing the pit stop inevitably dropping Lester back a few positions restarting 19th with only 10 laps remaining. Lester, on fresh tires, was able to advance through the field avoiding the gaggle of trucks on the track crossing the checkered flag in the 16th place position.
"I had a lot of fun tonight," Lester said. "We struggled all day with a tight condition in the corners and we just couldn't seem to nail it down. I think if we could have gotten that we would have been in the top-10 at the end. The truck was good though, fast and we were really able to avoid some big crashes that very close to us. This team has done a fantastic job on these trucks. I have to say thank you to Allstate and congratulations to the winners that became a part of the Billy Ballew Motorsports team this weekend. What an honor to have the title sponsor for the NEXTEL Cup race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on our truck. We would love to have Allstate back on board again. I wish I could have given them that top-10 finish. We'll take 16th and head to Nashville in two weeks to see what we can do there."