By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
FORT WORTH, Texas – Justin Haley put together one of his best showings of the 2018 season with a third-place finish on Friday night’s PPG 400 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The result comes on the heels of a less than stellar out at Charlotte where he finished 14th and marks his third top three finish of through the first eight races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (second at Daytona, third at Dover).
Starting 10th, the 19-year-old Hoosier methodically hung around through the first two stages before finding track position that had him out front during the final stage. However, he would only manage to lead three laps before GMS Racing teammate Johnny Sauter made the move for the lead on Lap 117 of 167.
The worry of fuel conservation went by the wayside as two more cautions came out, which allowed pole sitter Stewart Friesen to move ahead and take second.
For Haley, who collected a combined 11 points through the first two stages, the run has him a solid eight in the championship standings, 26 points behind ThorSport Racing’s Matt Crafton in fifth.
“It’s what we’ve been needing,” Haley said. “We’ve been running top three and getting wrecked in the late part of the races. So this is a really good showing for the No. 24 Fraternal Order of Eagles. Everyone at GMS fabrication, all my road guys, everyone did a fabulous job. Johnny is just unbeatable. He takes a 10th place truck every week and tries to win with it and does so.
“If we can build a little more speed into our truck and be dominant, I think we can get a win.”
Haley conceded that Sauter is the point man for his learning as he tries to become a more well-rounded driver, but there is still some more to do before he can expect to win.
“Ever since I first met him in 2016, I’ve leaned on him every day like I was his own son,” Haley said.
“He gets tired of me after a while because I’m pestering him and asking what I can do better. Johnny’s been great again. He’s phenomenal in a truck and gets the job done every time. I just need to learn a little bit more from him to beat him.”