When the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series headed to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park last year, NASCAR made some simple recommendations for teams in getting a truck ready for a road course versus an oval.
“They strongly encouraged teams to run the truck that we ran just at Bristol or wherever at the road course,” Chad Kendrick, crew chief for Ryan Blaney, stated. “So last year, we concentrated more our mile and a halves and running strong – and we did that. We brought a mile and a half truck here, squared it up for the road course.”
The Brad Keselowski Racing team did well last year in posting a top-five finish. The success then led to other thoughts, though. Chad Kendrick felt that if they could a truck just for CTMP that he and Ryan Blaney could score the victory. So the crew chief sat down with Brad Keselowski Racing team owner Brad Keselowski and team manager Jeremy and told them that if they put a little more money and effort into a road course truck, they could score a victory.
“We built a specific one-off truck,” Kendrick said. “We started the build back in January. Our engineering staff – we all put our heads together and came up with how we wanted the truck to be built. And then our body hangers – we hung the body as square as we could by the rulebook and it worked out great. It was a lighter piece than what we brought here last year.”
The result of their effort, as well as Kendrick’s strategy and Blaney’s driving behind the wheel worked out perfectly as the pair would pick up their first victory of the season. After qualifying 14th, Kendrick went forward with a one-stop strategy versus the two-stop strategy that most teams had gone with.
“We were all disappointed when we qualified where we did, so last night I stayed up the majority of the night and just wrote down every scenario I could come up with and hounding how we could get track position,” Kendrick explained. “This track is a difficult track to pass on and I knew we couldn’t come from 14th to the lead with passing – its just not going to happen. So this is why I came up with a one-stop race and get him to save fuel the whole time that he was doing it.”
That strategy put Blaney in the lead late in the race, and then Blaney was able to hold off German Quiroga’s last race charge by 0.049 seconds to score the victory.
“To make the call that I made today, you got to have a driver like Ryan. You can’t make that call with a guy that can’t win the race,” Kendrick commented. “That made it a little easier in making that call.”
After having a pair of bad races in a row, Kendrick says the win is what they needed as they try to score the championship this year, now sitting 13 points behind Johnny Sauter.
“We’ve been so close this year with numerous seconds, numerous thirds, and I’ve been saying all along that if we can just get a win, we can rattle off three or four in a row – and that’s our plan,” Kendrick comemnted. “We felt really happy with the truck and I said to him that we’re going to win here, we’re going to win Chicago and gain on those guys in second and first; we’re going to be right back in this. That’s our plan – to win this championship.”