The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series traveled to Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday in the midst of a tight championship points race battle for the Smith's 350. Timothy Peters showed early promise in his Strutmasters.com Toyota Tundra, until an unscheduled pit stop 52 laps into the event threw the No. 17 Red Horse Racing team a curve ball. The challenge was met by experience and impressive strategy calls by Butch Hylton that helped Peters fight back for an eighth place finish.
Dialing in a setup that would help Peters over the bumps during Friday's practice sessions, crew chief Butch Hylton decided to revert to some of the same setup components they had previous success with at the 1.5-mile oval in 2011. The changes gave Peters the speed he needed to qualify on the outside of the front row for Saturday's main event.
Taking charge heading into the first turn, Peters pulled in front of the pole sitter to lead the first lap as the caution flag came out for the first time. He held his position in front of the field for the next 18 laps, staying quiet on the radio as Hylton read off lap times. The first opportunity for Peters to get fresh tires and changes came under the fourth caution of the night, as he asked his Red Horse Racing crew to loosen up his Tundra just a tick on entry. Several competitors elected to take two tires instead of four, placing Peters in the eighth position on the restart.
Just 10 laps after resuming the race, Peters suddenly jumped on the radio and explained to Hylton that something was amiss on the Strutmasters.com Tundra and he was extremely loose. Thinking it may be a tire issue, Hylton brought Peters down pit road for an unscheduled pit stop and four fresh tires to help remedy the condition. The tires didn't solve the problem as Peters radioed just a few short laps later that the rear end wasn't gripping the track as well as the front, and he was just hanging on.
While making the unscheduled pit stop, Peters fell one lap down to the leaders and was caught in that position under the fifth caution of the night on lap 77 of 146. His Red Horse Racing crew determined the drastic change in track temperature as the cause of the sudden change in handling and decided to make several changes to their Tundra on pit road before heading back to green flag competition. Peters would soon report that those changes were helping and aided him in the battle to get his lap back.
A much needed caution period on lap 103 gave Peters his lap back, along with a chance to march back to the front and battle for the lead. Hylton gave Peters a new set of tires and a few more adjustments before he rejoined the rest of the field and restarted from the tail end of the lead lap. Peters maneuvered his way through the traffic after another restart on lap 116 to break back into the top-10. As the field spread out for the final 16 lap run, Peters picked off a few more positions to climb into the eighth spot as the checkered flag dropped.
"Our Strutmasters.com Toyota Tundra was so fast at the beginning of this race, but the track changed so much tonight- way different than I thought it would. Something happened with our tires on the first stop of the night and I was so loose I couldn't hang on to it. We had to come in the pits and that cost us a lap. But this Red Horse Racing team stayed calm as they always do and did a great job to put us back on the lead lap. I'm proud of the comeback we had tonight and after all we went through, we'll gladly take a top-10. We gained a few points and now we head to the crap shoot next week at Talladega," Peters said.