After a long winless dry spell that lasted a whopping three races, John Hunter Nemechek is back in Victory Lane. Although GMS Racing‘s Sheldon Creed and Zane Smith won the first two stages, the points leader dominated the final stage en route to his third win of the season in Friday’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Although practice was held earlier in the day (led by fellow Toyota driver Austin Hill with Nemechek in second), qualifying was cancelled due to rain and the grid was set by formula. Consequently, last week’s winner Todd Gilliland started on the pole ahead of Creed.
Creed led the entire, caution-free first stage en route to the segment win. Gilliland, Nemechek, Hill, Smith, Tyler Ankrum, Derek Kraus, Matt Crafton, Ben Rhodes, and Hailie Deegan rounded out the top ten.
Nemechek took the lead early in the second stage and led until Tanner Gray spun and was impacted by Bret Holmes for the caution. Creed fell victim to his own incident when he collided with a loose Gilliland, sending him into the wall and a spin before being hit by GMS team-mate Chase Purdy. The Creed wreck set up a one-lap dash to the finish that Smith won ahead of Hill, Ty Majeski, Kraus, Ryan Truex, Crafton, Carson Hocevar, Stewart Friesen, and Nemechek.
The final stage began with Nemechek once again in front. On lap 116, during green-flag pit stops, Crafton sped down pit road due to smoke; on the track, Trey Hutchens cut a tyre and hit the wall. Johnny Sauter and Drew Dollar attempted to race by him but there was insufficient room to squeeze by, resulting in the two slamming into Hutchens and shearing Sauter’s right side off.
The ensuing caution raised great concern from fans and media as safety crews had a prolonged response to Sauter while NASCAR elected to keep the race under yellow instead of switching to red-flag conditions.
“At the exact time the 14 (Hutchens) had its incident, the 88 (Crafton) was smoking and speeding down pit road,” explained NASCAR. “The focus was on that and whether there was any oil on the track that needed cleaning to avoid any further incidents. Once the collision occurred with the 13 (Sauter), we threw the caution.”
The race resumed on lap 125 as Nemechek continued to lead. Despite a concerted effort by Hocevar, he could not catch Nemechek as he stormed off to his series-leading third win of the year. It marks Toyota’s eighth victory in ten races in 2021.
“I completed two laps and wrecked on lap three (in practice),” Nemechek commented. “Huge shoutout to all my guys, Eric Phillips (crew chief) and all our guys here and back at the shop. The pit crew pretty much won the race tonight I feel like on pit road. We were able to jump some guys there after the first stage. It was so hard to pass. It was amazing. Eric did a great job making adjustments all night and I was telling him what we needed. This was our baby truck, this one has won three races for me this year and sadly, it’s going to have to get fixed with that crazy crash. […]
“(The practice wreck) might be a speed secret, I don’t know.”
Hocevar’s runner-up finish marks the rookie’s best career run to date. Majeski finished seventh in his first Truck start of the year.
|1||4||4||John Hunter Nemechek||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota||134||Running|
|2||9||42||Carson Hocevar||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||134||Running|
|3||5||99||Ben Rhodes||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||134||Running|
|4||11||52||Stewart Friesen||Halmar Friesen Racing||Toyota||134||Running|
|5||1||38||Todd Gilliland||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||134||Running|
|6||23||18||Chandler Smith||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota||134||Running|
|7||31||66||Ty Majeski||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||134||Running|
|8||15||19||Derek Kraus||McAnally-Hilgemann Racing||Toyota||134||Running|
|9||3||16||Austin Hill||Hattori Racing Enterprises||Toyota||134||Running|
|10||6||21||Zane Smith||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||134||Running|
|11||22||98||Christian Eckes||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||134||Running|
|12||16||40||Ryan Truex||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||134||Running|
|13||12||1||Hailie Deegan||David Gilliland Racing||Ford||133||Running|
|14||8||9||Grant Enfinger||CR7 Motorsports||Chevrolet||133||Running|
|15||20||24||Jack Wood||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||133||Running|
|16||7||26||Tyler Ankrum||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||133||Running|
|17||13||22||Austin Wayne Self||AM Racing||Chevrolet||133||Running|
|18||18||56||Timmy Hill||Hill Motorsports||Chevrolet||133||Running|
|19||19||45||Bayley Currey||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||133||Running|
|20||17||51||Drew Dollar||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota||133||Running|
|21||36||41||Dawson Cram||Cram Racing Enterprises||Chevrolet||133||Running|
|22||25||15||Tanner Gray||David Gilliland Racing||Ford||133||Running|
|23||21||02||Kris Wright||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet||132||Running|
|24||32||30||Danny Bohn||On Point Motorsports||Toyota||131||Running|
|25||27||04||Cory Roper||Roper Racing||Ford||129||Running|
|26||35||20||Spencer Boyd||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet||128||Running|
|27||30||34||C.J. McLaughlin||Reaume Brothers Racing||Toyota||127||Running|
|28||34||33||Akinori Ogata||Reaume Brothers Racing||Chevrolet||125||Running|
|29||33||3||Keith McGee||Jordan Anderson Racing||Chevrolet||123||Running|
|30||10||88||Matt Crafton||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||114||Engine|
|31||14||13||Johnny Sauter||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||111||Accident|
|32||38||14||Trey Hutchens||Trey Hutchens Racing||Chevrolet||108||Accident|
|33||37||10||Jennifer Jo Cobb||Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing||Ford||71||Suspension|
|34||26||23||Chase Purdy||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||59||DVP|
|35||2||2||Sheldon Creed||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||55||Accident|
|36||28||32||Bret Holmes||Bret Holmes Racing||Chevrolet||49||Accident|
|37||24||12||Tate Fogleman||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet||38||Rear Gear|
|38||29||25||Timothy Peters||Rackley WAR||Chevrolet||13||Steering|