After the final practice this morning for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers competing in the Rhino Linings 350 race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS), the fastest time was turned in by Darrell Wallace Jr. in the No. 54 ToyotaCare car. With a time of 30.89 seconds on his fastest lap, he turned in a time just slightly faster than German Quiroga in the No. 77 OtterBox car. Series points leader Matt Crafton turned in the sixth fastest time in both of the day’s practice sessions. Wallace Jr. is currently fourth in the NASCAR Truck Series standings, 35 points behind Crafton, with only five races to go. He is rated by NASCAR as one of the fastest drivers in the series, ranking first for turning in fastest laps at the beginning of a race, and second in the same category at the end of races. He ranks second for fastest laps run overall to his team owner, Kyle Busch.
After the first session of qualifying, Wallace Jr. started off slower than the team would have liked given the way they finished practice. He was 16th after the first round. Quiroga actually was able to translate that practice speed into qualifying speed, and turned in some very fast laps in the first session. He sat at the top of the board after the first twenty minutes. Behind him was the other ToyotaCare car, the No. 51 driven by Erik Jones. Rounding out the top five after the first session were the No. 29 of Ryan Blaney, the No. 23 of Spencer Gallagher, and the No. 7 of Brian Ickler. Blaney is third in the series standings, looking for a win today to close the gap between himself and Crafton.
The second session, the ten minute round looking for the top 12 times to move on to the final session, saw a majority of drivers employing strategy and staying off of the track until the final minute of the round. It was a mad scramble for the one good lap that would get them a prime position. The qualifying was red-flagged with 18 seconds left on the clock when debris was discovered on the track. The drivers were given the opportunity to make one final attempt for that quick lap. It took a bit of shuffling, with the trucks being brought back to pit road a couple of times, but when the smoke cleared, only 11 drivers were able to post qualifying times. The 12th, Quiroga, was allowed to advance based on his first session time.
The final session was less dramatic than the second, and saw Ryan Blaney taking the pole. Wallace Jr. returned to his faster times and turned in the second best time. Quiroga will start on the outside of the second row, turning in the fourth best time. Points leader Crafton was just behind him, and will start on the inside of the third row. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rhino Linings 350 is scheduled to begin at 7 pm local time.
Commentary By Jim Malone
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Photos Courtesy of NASCARMedia.com