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Niece Motorsports NCTS Race Preview: Pocono Raceway

NIECE MOTORSPORTS
NCTS RACE ADVANCE: POCONO RACEWAY
Race: CRC Brakleen 175 (70 laps / 175 miles) | Race 14 of 23
Track: Pocono Raceway
Location: Long Pond, Pennsylvania
Date & Time: Friday, July 12th | 5:30 PM ET
Tune-In: FOX Sports 1 | Motor Racing Network (MRN) | Sirius XM Ch. 90

No. 41 DQS Solutions & Staffing Chevrolet Silverado RST
Driver: Bayley Currey | Crew Chief: Cody Efaw
Bayley Currey
@BayleyCurrey
@BayleyCurrey05

  • Currey’s Pocono Stats: Bayley Currey has made four CRAFTSMAN Truck Series starts at Pocono Raceway since 2018, and made his first start with Niece Motorsports at this track the following year. His best race result is a 16th-place finish in 2020, and he finished 37th last year due to engine issues. Currey has also competed in one Cup Series race and two Xfinity Series races at “The Tricky Triangle”.
  • Niece Motorsports Pocono Stats: Niece drivers have combined to make a total of 20 starts at Pocono Raceway, with stats tallying one win (Ross Chastain, 2019), two top-fives, and three top-10 finishes. In 2023, the team’s best finish was delivered by Carson Hocevar, who ran 11th.
  • On the Truck: Currey’s No. 41 Chevrolet Silverado RST will race with support from DQS Solutions & Staffing along with Masked Owl Technologies. This race was not originally slated as a primary race for either of these partners, but was picked up after Nashville.
  • Recapping Nashville: Currey and the No. 41 team were optimistic for a solid result following their top-five finish in last year’s race at Nashville, but faced brake issues that hindered their result. Currey started the night off in 20th, but passed a handful of trucks in stage one, and eventually worked into the top-10 before the issue plagued the team. Forced to pit, only having rear brakes functioning, the team would have to settle for a 29th-place finish.
  • Points Rundown: Currey’s misfortunes over the last three races have dropped the driver a few positions in the standings, and the team is looking to get back on track. Following Nashville, Currey slid back to 19th in points, now seven markers behind Ty Dillon in 18th.
  • Quoting Currey: You made your first start for the team here five years ago. What do you remember about that experience compared to how it is today?

“It’s been really cool seeing this whole group grow together, honestly. I remember where the team was before my first start for them in 2019, starting in the shop where they were at with only two trucks. Now, we’re in a way bigger shop and have three full-time trucks. There’s a lot of stuff that we do in-house where it wasn’t like that when I first got here. It’s been great to see all the progression that Al (Niece) and Cody (Efaw) have made over those five years, and I’m excited to go back to Pocono this week with that group.”

  • Quoting Efaw: It’s been a bit of a rough stretch the past few weeks for the No. 41 team, so how do you plan on getting them back on track?

“I feel like this group has had speed at most of the races this year, but there have been issues – some in our control and some out of our control – that have hurt the finishes. We’ve just got to get back to the basics, really. We know Bayley has a ton of talent, last year showed what he can do in the right situation; and we know our trucks are capable of running up front. If we can just put together a smooth weekend and erase some of the mistakes, I think that will be a huge confidence booster for everyone. I’d love to get that started here this weekend at one of our good tracks. All these guys on the team and our partners deserve it, and I’m confident we can do it together.”
DQS Solutions & Staffing Mission Statement: The core mission of DQS Solutions & Staffing is to attain unparalleled excellence in our specialized domains, specifically staffing and security. Simultaneously, we maintain the flexibility required to collaborate closely with our clients in the creation of innovative products and services within the framework of DQS.

No. 42 J.F. Electric / Utilitra Chevrolet Silverado RST
Driver: Matt Mills | Crew Chief: Jon Leonard
Matt Mills Racing
@MattMillsRacing
@MattMillsRacing

  • Mills’ Pocono Stats: Matt Mills has made one prior NCTS start at Pocono Raceway in 2017, but was forced to park with an early exit due to mechanical issues. Mills also made four Xfinity Series starts at this track before and finished as high as 23rd in 2021. He did not enter any races held at this 2.5-mile tri-oval over the past two seasons.
  • Leonard’s Pocono Stats: Jon Leonard has called three Truck Series races at Pocono Raceway and posted his best result last year while working with Christopher Bell, who finished in fourth. Leonard also made one Cup Series start as a crew chief here in 2018 with Kasey Kahne.
  • On the Truck: Mills’ No. 42 Chevrolet Silverado RST will race with support from longtime partners J.F. Electric and Utilitra.
  • Recapping Nashville: Despite having to start in the rear due to a steering issue in practice, Mills and the No. 42 team rallied back to earn their second top-10 finish of the season at Nashville Superspeedway. Mills overcame a pit road penalty early on and the J.F. Electric crew made solid adjustments throughout the race, putting him in position to capitalize. He crossed the line with an eighth-place result, nabbing the “hard charger” award in the process.
  • Points Rundown: Mills’ streak of gaining points positions continued after the last race in Nashville, where his top-10 bumped him up to 22nd in the driver standings. Since the eighth race of the year in Kansas, Mills has picked up one spot in points after every start, now making it six weeks in a row.
  • Quoting Mills: This is one of the shortest races all year in terms of laps, so does that raise your intensity level?

“Yeah, I’ve never really been able to run a truck here before, but it’s all going to be about track position. The straightaways are so long and the trucks punch such a big hole in the air, so that’s going to be tough to learn and figure out how to time your runs and keep momentum. It’s another good track for us at Niece Motorsports, so I’m going to go there with a good mindset to learn as much as I can from my guys.”

  • Quoting Leonard: How do you manage the balance of downforce (drag), and being trimmed out here?

“I think you need both here to be fast. I think you need drag-out with the big straightaways, but you need to be able to get through the corners, too. These trucks are still lifting out of the gas in all three corners, so you still have to build a good amount of downforce and find that good balance of being able to qualify well and not hurt the race trim. It’s a bit of a strategy/track position race, so you have to find that middle ground and not put your eggs all in one basket.”

About J.F. Electric: J.F. Electric is an electrical contractor that provides engineering expertise, backed by construction and installation know-how in a diverse range of service offerings, from utilities and commercial projects, to industrial and telecommunications customers. When having a long family history in an industry, a company not only builds on its knowledge and experience, it takes pride in cultivating a solid understanding of client needs, all the while nurturing strong relationships with its employees. Evolving through five generations of the Fowler family, J.F. Electric has matured into a well-managed and thoughtfully diversified electrical contractor which is poised to continue its growth and expansion into the future.

About Utilitra: Utilitra is a woman-owned firm specializing in utility and technology solutions with a diverse team of specialized professionals. Utilitra is committed to solving their client’s unique challenges, whether one expert or a team of experts is needed. By adapting to the needs of their respective industries, Utilitra has built a range of services for their utility and technology partners.

No. 45 Mar-Del Watermelon Association Chevrolet Silverado RST
Driver: Ross Chastain | Crew Chief: Phil Gould
Ross Chastain
@RossChastain
@RossChastain

  • Chastain Returns: Ross Chastain will make his fourth start of the season behind the wheel of the No. 45 Chevrolet on Friday. Chastain hasn’t been in the seat since North Wilkesboro as he shared the ride with Kaden Honeycutt and Connor Mosack. He picked up the team’s ninth win at Darlington Raceway in May, making it two top-fives in three starts. Ross will drive this truck in next week’s race at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park for his last planned start of the year with Niece Motorsports.
  • Chastain’s Pocono Stats: In five Truck Series starts at Pocono, Chastain has gathered one win, two top-fives, and four top-10 finishes. His win in 2019 marked Niece Motorsports’ third NCTS victory in team history which capped off his three-win season. He has also made five Xfinity Series starts at the track and finished in the runner-up position in 2020. Through eight Cup Series starts, Chastain’s best finish at the track is 13th, which came last year.
  • Gould’s Pocono Stats: Phil Gould has also made five Truck Series starts on top of the box at Pocono, highlighted by two top-fives including his win with Chastain in 2019. Last year, Gould’s team finished 11th with Carson Hocevar at the wheel. Gould made three starts here in the Xfinity Series, posting a best run of 14th with Ryan Reed in 2018.
  • On the Truck: Chastain’s No. 45 Chevrolet Silverado RST will race with support from the Mar-Del Watermelon Association and will promote the “Eat Mardelicious Watermelon” campaign.
  • Recapping Nashville: A great showing by Kaden Honeycutt was cut short due to mechanical gremlins in Nashville. Honeycutt’s AutoVentive / Precision Vehicle Logistics Chevrolet was fast – having qualified eighth and climbed as high as third before a rear gear seal went bad on his truck. He was credited with a 33rd-place finish after having spent numerous laps behind the wall.
  • Owner Points Outlook: The No. 45 team’s rear gear issue in Nashville significantly affected their position in the owner points, dropping from seventh to ninth overall. With three races left in the regular season, their primary focus is on maintaining their spot in the Playoffs to fight for the owners’ championship. Entering Pocono, the team has a three point gap to the cutoff line.
  • Quoting Chastain: With there being only two starts left in the Truck Series for you, how bad do you want to go back to victory lane before your season ends?

“Everyone on the crew wants to make it back to victory lane, but I think for us on the No. 45 team, the most important thing we need to do is execute in both of these races to get as many points as we can. We all love winning, but for me, what would feel just as good would be to keep Al (Niece) in the fight for the owner’s championship. I’m not able to run any truck races during the Playoffs, so my goal is to help with some good runs before I pass the baton off to Kaden (Honeycutt) and Connor (Mosack) as they finish out the year.”

  • Quoting Gould: Pocono’s a track where you can make different strategy calls at, but with your points position in mind, how aggressive can you truly be?

“Well, since Ross is driving for us, I think we can be really aggressive with the strategy. Since he’s racing for Cup points, even if he was to go out there and win a stage, we wouldn’t be able to get any of the Playoffs points from it, so I think we have to do what’s best to be in position to win the race. We’ll basically be no holds barred there in trying to capture another win and make up points.”

About Mar-Del Watermelon Association: Established in 1965, the Mar-Del Watermelon Association is an organization that works to increase demand for Maryland and Delaware watermelons and the agriculture industry for their farmers, brokers, and industry suppliers. The voluntary, elected board of directors strives to make a positive difference in the business and lives of its members while working closely with National Watermelon Association and National Watermelon Promotion Board.

About Niece Motorsports:
Niece Motorsports is owned by United States Marine Corps Veteran Al Niece. In 2024, Niece Motorsports enters its ninth season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Niece also owns Niece Equipment, which has for over 40 years provided clients with reliable products at competitive prices. Niece Equipment’s reputation is built on service, integrity and dependability. The company provides water and fuel/lube trucks that are engineered with quality and durability in mind for the construction and mining industry. Follow the team on Facebook and Instagram @NieceMotorsports as well as X @NieceMotorsport.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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