The Digital Ally 250 took place this past weekend at Kansas Speedway located in Kansas City, Kansas in a thrilling race that saw a fan favorite win, while others were left disappointed and wanting more.
Here’s a look at this week’s four takeaways from the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Digital Ally 250.
Niece Motorsports Gets First Team Win – Al Niece, the owner of Niece Motorsports, has been waiting for this moment since he started the team nearly four years ago in 2016 with driver Casey Smith. Smith ran two races for them with a best finish of 22nd that year at Iowa but did qualify at Martinsville.
Since then, they have gone through drivers like Jeffrey Abbey, T.J. Bell, Justin Fontaine, Travis Pastrana, Victor Gonzalez Jr., Austin Wayne Self, Landon Huffman and Max McLaughlin. However, Ross Chastain caught their eye in 2018 and was picked up for three races. Despite a best finish of 12th at Bristol, they finished 26th and 16th at Homestead. Then a new year dawned with new goals and challenges. Chastain faced similar circumstances when he lost his Xfinity Series ride with Chip Ganassi Racing over sponsorship issues. In 2019, Chastain returned to Niece Motorsports with hopes of going to victory lane at some point in the season. The team almost did that at Daytona earning a third-place finish. During the time span before the Kansas victory, Chastain and the No. 45 team finished sixth at Atlanta, 10th at Las Vegas, fourth at Martinsville, seventh at Fort Worth, and 10th at Dover. The team could smell victory after top-10 finishes and having some of their best performances ever since Niece Motorsports started their truck team in 2016. In fact, Chastain felt they had the truck to win at Texas back in March but they fell short.
Then came Kansas, where the team was looking to continue their top-10 streak. The No. 45 Niece Motorsports team qualified sixth and once again, ran up front in the stages. And then the opportunity arose when, with three to go, the race leader ran out of gas. Chastain held off a hard-charging Ben Rhodes for a popular win in the NASCAR community.
Some say, it was Chastain’s biggest win yet and you could tell that it meant so much to him as he excitedly climbed out of his truck, jumping up and down with the crowd cheering him on. Most importantly, lost in all of this, was Al Niece’s first win as a team owner in the Truck Series. The team could be considered an underdog favorite. But Chastain and Niece don’t like the term and want to be considered along with everyone else, to have a shot at the win, week-in and week-out. With this victory, the team will become more of a threat to the field every week. While Chastain can’t compete for the Truck Series championship, the team can focus on the owners’ championship and at the end of the season, the team could very well accomplish just that. Keep an eye on Niece Motorsports, especially the No. 45 team, as they start to come into their own going into the summer months.
Natalie Decker Has Forgettable Night Kansas – The No. 54 DGR-Crosley team was looking to turn their luck around coming into Kansas Speedway after having some miserable finishes to start the season. After granting a little girl her birthday wish on Friday, it might’ve been a good omen for Decker and the No. 54 team. However, their night and bad luck continued as Decker went sliding off Turn 4 into the grass, getting all four wheels off the ground and winding up 25th. Here’s hoping the team can turn their luck around this week at Charlotte.
Austin Hill Quietly Shines In Top Five – Lost in the finishing order was likely Austin Hill and the No. 16 Hattori Racing team. Hill and company flew under the radar finishing fourth after starting seventh. He finished fifth and eighth in both stages and wound up earning his second top five of the 2019 season.
Kyle Busch Motorsports Places Trucks In Top-10 – The Kyle Busch Motorsports team had a great night in the heartland placing all of their trucks in the top-10 running order. Todd Gilliland, who needed a decent finish coming into Kansas, started fifth and finished third. He finished seventh in both stages and was up front late in the race for a shot at the win. Ultimately, Gilliland was happy with the finish he needed. Brandon Jones continued the No. 51 fame finishing fifth, Riley Herbst finished ninth and Harrison Burton was 10th. All in all, the Kyle Busch Motorsports team had a strong night in Kansas.