The NASCAR Camping Truck Series headed to Gateway Motorsports Park on Saturday night. It was the fourth race for the track since its return in 2014. The race was action packed and featured different pit strategies. Chase Briscoe won his first career pole in the series, alongside him was race winner John Hunter Nemechek.
1. John Hunter Nemechek – Nemechek had a decent track record coming into Gateway but never had won. Nemechek set the pace early by taking the Stage 1 win. He faltered a little bit in Stage 2 after pit stops but wound up finishing third. After a late race caution with eight laps to go, Nemechek made the pass for the win with six laps to go and held off Chase Briscoe for the win. It was a gutsy pit call by taking fuel only but it paid off.
“Incredible,” Nemechek said, “I felt like we had the truck to beat if we had track position.” Nemechek led three times for 46 laps.
2. Chase Briscoe – Briscoe was another contender for the win all night long. After Nemechek took the Stage 1 win, Briscoe had the dominant truck in Stage 2, ultimately winning the stage. However, a pit stop with 27 laps to go, cost him the win after a miscommunication with his crew. A late race caution came with 13 laps to go, this saw Briscoe come down pit road and take four tires. After the restart, he tried all he could to get to Nemechek, but eventually, settled for second place once again for the second week in a row.
“Tonight was a really great night for Brad Keselowski Racing and I’m proud of this team,” Briscoe said. “We’ve had fast Ford F-150s at every single race this year, but this was the first time we really dominated.” Briscoe now has five top-five finishes of the year.
3. Christopher Bell – After starting third, Bell was quietly in contention all night. In Stage 1, he finished fourth, while he finished fifth in the second stage. Bell made his pit stop with 30 laps to go by taking four tires. He was headed straight for the leader with 13 laps to go by taking second before a caution ultimately slowed the pace. Bell was second with two laps to go when Chase Briscoe made a dive bomb move and moved Bell up the track. He eventually got a flat tire and finished sixth.
“We had a really, really good truck there on the long run after we made our pit stop,” Bell said. “The other guys didn’t take tires and we did so that definitely helped us there and I felt like we were going to have it. We had a really strong JBL Tundra there at the end, but I didn’t get it done on the restart and I feel bad for my guys because they worked really hard.”
4. Matt Crafton – Crafton was finally looking to break through at Gateway after three years of bad luck there. He finished third in Stage 1 and second in Stage 2. After a miscue by Chase Briscoe’s pit crew, Crafton took the lead with 25 laps to go. A caution came out, however, with 13 laps to go for a stalled truck. He held the lead for two laps after the restart, before eventually getting passed by race winner John Hunter Nemechek. Crafton fell back to a disappointing fourth.
“Those guys just took two tires, and I was on no tires,” Crafton said. “You win some, you lose some. Everybody is upset, but at the same time, they knew we were here tonight.”
5. Grant Enfinger – Enfinger was nobody’s pick to win, but he quietly had a solid night finishing in the fifth position.
“It turned out that way because these guys busted their tails all day,” Enfinger said. “We had a better truck, I feel like, than fifth, but it gets dicey on the restarts, and you’ve got to put yourself in compromising situations to even have a shot at it.”
The race featured only three cautions for 17 laps, with five leaders among nine lead changes.
Johnny Sauter continues to lead the point standings by thirty-eight points over second-place Matt Crafton.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series now heads to Iowa Speedway Friday night June 23.