KNOXVILLE — Devon Rouse had high hopes coming into Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Clean Harbors 150 presented.
Rouse finished 18th in the same race in 2021. Rouse had hopes of topping that finish and perhaps, with a little luck, finish in the top 10.
Things didn’t go according to plan for the Burlington native.
Rouse, who had moved up to 22nd in the second of three stages of the race, fell back and eventually fell out of the 150-lap main event with mechanical failure.
Rouse ended up 30th, a far cry from his goal.
Meet Devon Rouse: The trailblazing NASCAR driver from Iowa
While disappointed, Rouse was still optimistic about his future in the sport moving forward.
“Now that I’ve had some time to think about it and reflect on it a little bit, I didn’t get the finish I wanted. I thought we had a really, really decent truck and I felt good heading into the race, “Rouse said Monday evening by phone from his home in Huntersville, North Carolina. “I was just very unfortunate with my luck. You can’t do anything about mechanical failures. Those things happen to everybody. It happened to two of the Niece trucks. They lost driveshafts. It’s out of my control. I will just move on from it.”
Rouse struggled with the truck in the first 40-lap stage. After his team made some changes before the 50-lap second stage, Rouse began to pick up spots.
Rouse eventually worked his way up to 22nd place before the truck experienced transmission issues in the 60-lap final stage.
Rouse eventually pulled into the pits for the crew to make adjustments. He was just coming back out when the checkered flag dropped for Todd Gilliland, race winner.
“Luck was just not on our side that night,” Rouse said. “He was a real bummer for my guys, my sponsors and myself.”
Rouse wasn’t the only driver to experience mechanical failure. Carson Hocevar won the first stage and was leading the second when his truck lost a driveshaft, ending his night. He finished 35th.
Rouse said he was going to sit down with his team and sponsors this week and get some feedback on the race. That will go a long way toward determining his immediate future.
“I have to keep my head up and not get too down or disappointed,” Rouse said. “I can’t control some of the things that happen, like mechanical failure. I am proud of the 11 spots that I climbed on the track and the truck came home in one piece. It was just unfortunate the way the race ended.”
Rouse said he has two races tentatively on his schedule for later this summer, both on the ARCA Menards Series. Those races are the Atlas 100 on Aug. 21 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Illinois and the Southern Illinois 100 on Sept. 4 at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.
“I’m hoping to get my sponsorship finalized for those races, so they are still attempted at this point,” Rouse said. “I am going to meet with my sponsors and see what they thought of this pat race and see what our future is with them.”
Matt Levins is a sports reporter for the USA TODAY Network in Burlington, Iowa, who has covered local sports for 31 years. Reach him at email@example.com.