Dover is a racetrack that JD Motorsports with Gary Keller (JDM) looks forward to coming to every year. In seasons past, the team has had some good success, and with the support of the Delaware Office of Highway Safety, there’s always a boost in morale and team spirit associated with the trip up north.
Entering the weekend, driver Ross Chastain was eager to hop back in the seat of his No. 4 Protect Your Melon Chevrolet after briefly stepping out of the ride one week prior in Talladega. Chastain, who looked to get back in the swing of things with the team, showed the world that he was going to give it his all by qualifying in the Top 10 early Saturday morning. Indeed, it was his best ever qualifying result with JDM, which added a sense of pride within the organization. Throughout the Allied Steel Buildings 200, Ross kept his Protect Your Melon Chevy up in and around the Top 10, even going as far as earning a couple stage points at the end of Stage 1.
In a race that only saw five total cautions, there weren’t many opportunities to work on the racecar, but a late caution brought everybody down pit road for some final adjustments. This set the field up for a fourteen-lap sprint to the finish, and crew chief Paul Clapprood went with a Hail Mary call to drastically change the setup on Chastain’s car, hoping to gain some track position. The effort paid off, ending with Ross coming home with a 12th place finish. He leaves Dover still sitting in 13th place in the season points standings, now 44 markers out of the Playoffs cutoff.
Garrett Smithley, driver of the No. 0 Camaro from nearby Ligonier, Pennsylvania, likes coming to Dover due in part to a good number of local fans and friends coming out to support his racing efforts. This weekend, Garrett got to visit the Dover Air Force Base, in which he was able to connect with local military members and their families, a humbling experience for himself. On Saturday morning, Garrett qualified his Chevrolet in the 26th position. From there, he found himself racing in close quarters with two of his JDM teammates in Stephen Leicht and BJ McLeod for the bulk of Stage 1.
Stage 2 came around with Smithley starting to find his stride a little bit, running up near the Top 20 for most of the rest of the race. The crew made some slight changes to help find more balance, and at one point, Smithley radioed “We are about one adjustment away from being perfect!” At the end of the day, Garrett brought his Number Nuthin Chevy home with a 23rd place finish. Smithley sits 16th in the standings, 41 points out of the Top 15 positions.
Stephen Leicht started the weekend off with a 23rd place qualifying effort, and felt pretty confident of what he had for the 200-lap main event. He wrestled a “tight” condition with his No. 01 Chevrolet for the entire race, and with Dover being one of those tracks that eats tires, he was at a disadvantage with a car that was resistant to turning. Though he ran consistently near the 20th to 25thposition, it seemed as if none of the adjustments made to his car helped fix the handling issues. Leicht ended up in the 26th position, and dropped down one spot in points. Don’t fret though, for he is only twelve points behind 22nd place, and will have a shot at gaining some points on his competition in the next outing at his home track in Charlotte.
Dover just so happens to be one of BJ McLeod’s favorite racetracks, and he proved it in qualifying. He was able to bust out a lap good enough for 20th place to start the day off, which was his best qualifying effort this season, and his second-best starting spot of his entire career. From there, he raced around Stephen and Garrett for the first stage, ending up right behind them at the end of it. McLeod continued to race around the 25th spot for the remainder of the race, before ultimately coming home with a 27th place finish. BJ sits in 21st in points, and actually moves up one spot compared to the week prior in Talladega.
All in all, it was a solid race for the team. The crews seemed pretty content with their showing, and they were able to gather some valuable notes for when the series returns to the track later on in the season. Thank you to the Delaware Office of Highway Safety for their continued support, and we here at JD Motorsports with Gary Keller would like to sincerely remind everybody to buckle their seatbelts up when they get in a vehicle!
The NASCAR Xfinity Series heads home to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 25th for the running of the Alsco 300.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!