Saturday morning, the Camping World Truck Series drivers headed onto Circuit of the Americas for the first of two qualifying sessions. Their goal was to post the fastest lap time and set themselves up for early success. NASCAR driver Tyler Ankrum ultimately performed the best during the two rain-soaked sessions, winning the Cometic Gasket Pole position.
The driver of the No. 26 Chevrolet Silverado posted the second-fastest lap time during the first qualifying session, running 2:40.401. He was just behind Kaz Grala, who posted a 2:39.978. However, Ankrum turned in the faster time when it mattered, bumping Grala off the pole and setting himself up for early success.
Ankrum has one top-five finish during the 2021 season, taking third at Richmond. He has ended three races in the garage due to crashes. Now, however, Ankrum will have an opportunity to win his first race since a 2019 trip to Victory Lane at Kansas Speedway.
Several Drivers Did Not Qualify for the Truck Series Race
While there were 12 drivers that turned in quality times and headed to the final round, seven failed to qualify for the Truck Series race. Jennifer Jo Cobb, Logan Bearden, John Atwell, Spencer Boyd, Dawson Cram, Samuel Lecomte, and Brad Gross made up the list.
Bearden is not a mainstay in the Truck Series. He joined Niece Motorsports for the inaugural trip to the Texas road course and driving the No. 44 Chevrolet Silverado. Bearden has some experience at COTA, and he expressed the desire to turn in a top finish in front of his hometown crowd.
Two other drivers — Chase Purdy and Derek Kraus — had issues of their own at COTA despite qualifying for the Truck Series race. Purdy entered a tight turn at a faster speed than Kraus and hit the No. 19 Toyota Tundra from behind. The truck easily spun on the rain-soaked track.
A Truck Series Driver Dealt With Serious Mechanical Issues
Another Niece Motorsports driver, Ryan Truex, turned in one of the better times (2:42.589) during the first qualifying session. This outing was good enough for ninth and a spot in the final round. However, Truex’s truck brought out the caution due to some engine issues.
According to Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass, Truex’s engine “let go” during the first session. NASCAR officials saw visible flames and threw the caution flag. Truex went to the garage, where his team changed the engine in the truck. He will be able to compete in the Truck Series race, but he will drop to the rear of the field.
Can’t make our luck up this year. Sitting P9 in Q and blew up with no warning,” Truex tweeted after the unfortunate incident. The 27-year-old has dealt with some issues during the 2021 season despite posting one top-five and four top-10s. Kansas was a particularly low point as Truex only completed four laps before an engine issue ruined his day.
With a new engine in his No. 40 Chevrolet Silverado, Truex will now attempt to rebound from the early issues. He will start Saturday’s Truck Series race at the rear of the field but will use his experience gained during practice and qualifying to move through the field.
The inaugural Toyota Tundra 225 will take place Saturday afternoon at Circuit of the Americas. The race will take place at 1 p.m. ET and will air on FS1. The drivers will compete for the checkered flag, as well as the $50,000 bonus as part of the Triple Truck Challenge presented by Womply.
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