LAS VEGAS — Entering Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Rhino Pro Truck Outfitters 300 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Gray Gaulding was in a must-win scenario to make the playoffs.
Many people did not expect him to get close to accomplishing that goal, but he proved them wrong.
After finishing 17th and 18th in the first two stages, a caution would allow Gaulding the opportunity to pit off sequence; however, the gamble was fuel, and it seemed unlikely that he would be able to make it to the end of the race.
During the following green-flag stretch that would lead to the finish, the driver of the No. 08 would run as high as second in the closing laps before eventually being passed by drivers who had pitted during the run. However, Gaulding would make still make it to the checkered flag finish on fuel and capture his fourth top-10 of the season with a seventh.
“It was a great night. I mean this is probably my best car I’ve had in the mile and a half all year,” Gaulding told POPULAR SPEED. “You know, we’ve, we’ve had a really successful season, you know, we rolled the dice, you know, we’re here in Vegas, we did everything we could to win. We tried to stretch it on fuel, I actually ran out, coming to the checkered. So it’s really good to, have speed but also finish top-10 and, we’re going to celebrate this one cause it’s so hard to finish top-10 as a small race team, and to be able to do that and accomplish that, I’m just really thankful, and I’m super happy right now.”
Though he will end the regular season as the first car out of the playoff, the 21-year-old is still very excited for the rest of the season. Gaulding fully believes that he can build off the energy surrounding his night in Vegas.
“You know, we, we got a lot of momentum on our side right now,” Gaulding said. “Coming off of finishing second earlier in the year, sixth at the Bristol, and now seventh here in, inside the top 15 pretty much week in and week out. I’m driving my heart out. I’m thankful to be here.”
After a career of bouncing around from ride to ride, the 2019 season has really shown what the young driver is made of with him making the most of this full-time ride.
“Bobby Dotter and SS-Green Light Racing have given me a huge opportunity because I didn’t know where my career was going,” Gaulding said. “A year and a half ago, and I just stuck with it and got in the right place at the right people, and here I am today. So yeah, we didn’t make it, but I’ll tell you what, it wasn’t easy. And we, we fought all year long and don’t, we just came up short, so we can’t, there’s nothing to be upset about. It’s part of it.”
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