#12 Gray Gaulding during practice for the Visit Hampton Va 175 (Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com)
Hampton, VA – No driver really wants to be forced to start shotgun on the field and have to worry about bringing a fast car through the entire pack. Bet you money any driver will tell you they want to start up front and stay up front. Well, this past weekend at Langley Speedway that opportunity was taken away from Gray Gaulding, driver of the #12 PPM Motorsports/Krispy Kreme Toyota, after an issue with the teams’ communications regulated him to the back.
Cars were moved from the garage area to the front stretch for driver intros. Drivers would then strap into their machines from there and get down to business. Well, once the engines came to life on the front stretch, we couldn’t say the same for Gray’s radio! Crew members tried to make a quick fix right there on the front stretch but did not succeed. NASCAR officials even gave the team till the caution car got back to the front stretch to make the switch, and allow Gaulding to regain his position. They were unable to do so forcing the 12 car to make a pit stop before the green flag was even thrown.
Because the team had to make that stop Gaulding was forced to give up his top five starting position and head to the back. 175 laps however is plenty of time to regroup, and come up with another plan of attack, which the team did admirably in my opinion. With just three cautions on the night Gaulding had to make up most of his position the old fashion way so to speak – picking off one car at a time and not burning your stuff up in the process. At the end of the night Gaulding would earn a very hard fought fourth place finish AND our coveted The Weekly Racer Hard Charger Award. This is an award we give out to one driver who not only gains the most positions but refuses to give up and fights for more! It was all but an easy pick for our staff this week!
“I really wanted to do well in this race,” Gaulding told us during post-race tech. “I know we came home with a great finish but I really think we could have won this race. I can’t think everyone enough at PPM, Krispy Kreme, Toyota, my crew chief Charles, all my family and friends. At the end of the day we passed a ton of cars and gave it 110% and something wild like that happens you just got to keep on keeping on.
Knowing you have a good car and taking the steps to make the best of things, just another reason why this award was so easy this week. We also asked Gray if he was worried at all about having to get by so many cars on such a small track. “I really wasn’t worried you know,” said Gaulding. “I feel like I don’t have to qualify good to race good, I feel like I can start anywhere and work my way through traffic and have a shot to win. We had a shot to win just didn’t have a caution to get everyone bunched up. I tell you what, getting back there with some of them hoodlums is a task. We did what we needed to do, kept the nose on it, we had to move a couple people along the way but when you got to go, you gotta go!”
Gaulding currently sits fifth in the points standing, holding onto a three point advantage over Dalton Sargeant. Gaulding will return to Columbus Motor Speedway looking to better his 15th place finish back in 2014. The NAPA 150 will be run in two weeks as the series returns as we celebrate July 4th!