Date: Aug. 16, 2020
Event: Sunoco 159 at the Daytona Road Course (Race 12 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series
Location: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (3.57-mile, 14-turn road course)
Format: Three Stages; 12 laps/13 laps/21 laps
Start/Finish: 21st/22nd (Running, completed 46 of 46 laps)
Winner: Sheldon Creed of GMS Racing (Chevrolet)
Alex Tagliani was running third with just over 10 laps remaining in Sunday’s NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series event at the Daytona International Speedway before he was plagued with late-race troubles, including an overheating and engine and losing his brakes in NASCAR overtime, and ended the event with a 22nd-place finish.
Stage One Recap:
- Tagliani, making his first Gander Trucks start of 2020, started from the 21st position based on NASCAR’s new formula for determining the starting lineup that takes into account finishing position from the previous race, team owner points standings and the fastest lap from the previous race to set the lineup.
- The road-course ace gained five positions on the first lap and by lap seven was up to the 12th when he was summoned to pit road by veteran crew chief Danny Stockman. After getting four-tire and fuel, the No. 51 RONA/VIAGRA Tundra returned to the track scored in the 21st position when the first caution of the race occurred with three laps remaining in the stage.
Stage Two Recap:
- Tagliani started Stage Two in the fourth position after several teams pitted between stages.
- He communicated to veteran crew chief Danny Stockman that the RONA/VIAGRA Tundra was loose on the exit of multiple corners but was able to move up to the third position before a planned pit stop for four ties, fuel and a trackbar adjustment on Lap 22.
- Several other teams executed the same strategy, which put them in their fuel window until the end of the event, and the No. 51 team was able to end the stage with an eighth-place result despite pitting.
Final Stage Recap:
- After the top six trucks pitted, Tagliani lined up second next to his KBM teammate and fellow Canadian Raphael Lessard when the Final Stage went green on lap 27. The teammates made contact entering the first corner, and shortly after, the No. 51 had small signs of smoke.
- Tagliani was able to maintain the third position until the next caution occurred on Lap 33. After a brief discussion, Stockman believed that fresh tires would make a difference in the closing laps and summoned his driver to pit road for four fresh tires and fuel.
- The RONA/VIAGRA Tundra would restart in the eighth position when the field went back green with nine laps remaining. Instead of moving forward with the fresh rubber, Tagliani was muttered in ninth when the next caution occurred with three laps remaining setting up NASCAR overtime.
- Tagliani communicated that something was wrong with his Toyota that was causing it to be “really loose” and that the RPM’s on the engine were not reaching their full capacity.
- After the green flag waved again, Tagliani would end up spinning as part of a multi-car incident. Shortly after the caution flew slowing the field again. Stockman summoned his driver to pit road to repair damages and cool the engine in an effort to help it reach its full capacity.
- The Canadian driver would line up 23rd for the ensuing restart and in one lap made up seven positions, but on the white flag lap was involved in another incident after he communicated that his brake pedal was reaching the floor and he couldn’t stop his Tundra. The subsequent result was a disappointing 22nd-place finish for one of the pre-race favorites.
Alex Tagliani, driver of the No. 51 RONA/VIAGRA Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
What happened in the late stages of the race today?
“Definitely not the way we wanted to finish the race with the 51 truck. It’s a shame, we never really had the chance to really push and prove how the truck was. Sometimes it’s a tough pill to swallow, but the race didn’t turn out for us. In these races you need a little bit of luck and to be at the right place at the right time. As soon as we started to get roughed up a bit, we had some issues with brakes and the engine overheating as well from the damage at the front. We also had some rubbing of the fenders on the left side from contact and at that point we didn’t have the truck to stay in the fight. We lost about two seconds a lap, so it’s a shame because with about 13 laps to go I think we were about ready to put the hot sauce out. Sometimes it’s frustrating with a bad feeling inside, but I’m really thankful for the opportunity. Really love to work with the guys, a committed bunch of guys at KBM and hopefully what we learned today we can do differently next time we get a shot at it.”
How Tagliani’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Raphael Lessard, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished third
- Christian Eckes, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished 12th
Gander Trucks Owner’s Standings:
The No. 51 team sits fourth in the Gander Trucks owner’s championship standings. After 12 events, including four victories, they trail the No. 16 team by 62 points.
Chandler Smith will return to the wheel of the No. 51 JBL Tundra when the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series resumes action on Friday, Aug. 21 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Live coverage will be on FS1, Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM at 5 p.m. ET.