The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series headed out west tonight for the annual running of the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix Raceway and it sure didn’t disappoint.
Johnny Sauter was able to score his second consecutive victory after holding off John Hunter Nemechek on a late race restart.
Christopher Bell and Noah Gragson set the front row in qualifying on Friday afternoon.
The stages were broken up into 40/80/150 laps.
In the first stage, it was run cleanly and smoothly without any incident, as Gragson and Bell traded the lead back and forth before Bell eventually took the Stage 1 win. With this stage win, he was able to clinch a spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead.
Stage 2 was similar to Stage 1. Bell and Gragson swapped the lead a few times before the second caution came out for the 98 of Grant Enfinger who made contact with the Turn 1 wall. This prompted Stage 2 to end under yellow, seeing Bell sweep both of the stages. Matt Crafton also clinched the third championship spot after Stage 2 due to collecting enough points needed.
When Stage 3 began on lap 88, it might have been one of the wildest stages all year. There were several incidents and three red flags. The first incident came on lap 121 for Josh Reaume, who stopped on the track. Then shortly after the restart, a big accident took place on the frontstretch involving Austin Cindric, Ben Rhodes, Matt Crafton, Austin Hill and Norm Benning.
As they say “cautions breed cautions” and it was in effect tonight, as another incident took place after the restart on the backstretch, where Ryan Truex hit the wall hard, collecting Dalton Sargeant, Jesse Little, Todd Gilliland and Stewart Friesen.
The race went back to green on lap 141 and this saw race leader Bell, and Gragson, racing hard for the win until Gragson and Bell made slight contact, which sent both of them into the wall ending their shot at the win. During the wreck, Gragson hit the wall hard backward and then Justin Haley plowed right into him, causing more contact for Gragson’s No. 18. John Hunter Nemechek was also involved, after running over a piece of debris. Gragson was evaluated and released from the infield care center.
With a late race restart that saw two to go, Nemechek gave all he could for Sauter, but Sauter eventually held off the No. 8 and won his second consecutive race of the 2017 season after winning Texas last week.
Sauter led once for five laps and placed sixth in both stages. There were six cautions for 38 laps and three red flags. The race had nine leaders among three drivers.
Along with Sauter, Matt Crafton, Austin Cindric and Christopher Bell will now be competing for the championship next weekend at Homestead Miami.