The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series took center stage at Kentucky Speedway Thursday night. Barring a three-hour rain delay, it was an action filled race. Here are the power rankings following Kentucky.
1. Christopher Bell – While Bell was the dominant truck throughout the race, it did not come without issues. On lap 28, Bell took a spin in turn 3 bringing out the second caution. Bell had another issue in Stage 2, by being involved in a wreck on lap 43, but came away with no damage. He rebounded by the end of Stage 2 to finish sixth. In the remaining laps of the race, Bell swapped the lead with John Hunter Nemechek until he took the lead for good on lap 114. He eventually held off a hard charging Brandon Jones with just a few laps remaining to score his third win of the year.
“This is pretty special man,” Bell said. “This is an extremely tough race for me. We had our ups and downs there and through practice yesterday.” “We had such a great Toyota Tundra that I knew, I knew if the right circumstances came up we could do it and Rudy (Fugle) did a great job on top of the pit box just getting me track position after I made a mistake there and spun out.”
2. Brandon Jones – Jones’s race came with issues as well. After starting sixteenth, Jones slipped back to finish seventh in Stage 1 and ninth in Stage 2. However, on lap 115, Jones and Ryan Truex made contact to bring out the last caution. It took him several laps to rebound, but he challenged for the win and eventually settled for second behind race winner Christopher Bell.
“Yeah, I’m dying for a win right now for sure,” Jones said. “I was trying everything I could to get to the 4 (Christopher Bell) at the end. Eventually, I finally just started holding my line and you see him trying to move around stuff and try to mess us up a little bit. It was all fun and games for sure. I enjoyed it. It was a great start so far.”
3. Justin Haley – Haley made his fourteenth career start last night and a career-best third. After starting 10th, Haley had a solid Stage 1 finish by finishing sixth. During Stage 2, Haley led only four laps to finish third. Haley eventually held on to finish where he finished in Stage 2, third.
“We had a really good night in the No.24 Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevy,” Haley said. “We knew track position was going to be key and Kevin (Bellicourt, Crew Chief) worked out great strategy for us.”
4. Noah Gragson – Gragson had a solid night at Kentucky. After starting eleventh, Gragson finished just two spots ahead in Stage 1 as the truck needed adjustments to get to Gragson’s liking. When Stage 2 began, Gragson started second and assumed the lead on lap 41 to win his first ever stage of his career. However, issues came in Stage 3. Gragson brought out a caution on lap 77 for a collision between him and Austin Cindric but started to work his way to the top. He was up to seventh with 10 laps to go, before eventually finishing in fifth place.
“We led some laps during the second stage and were in a really good position running seventh to start the third stage,” Gragson said. “I just made a rookie mistake down there running the apron. Not running this track before, I didn’t know there was a bump there and I had a little bit of wheel into it down there in the front stretch and spun out.”
5. Parker Kligerman – Kligerman has been solid recently in the truck series in 2017. Before Kentucky, Kligerman had only competed in three races and scored just one top 10 coming at Charlotte. Kligerman started in the 30th position after qualifying was rained out. While he did not finish in the top 10 in the first two stages, circumstances worked out for him and he came home to finish seventh, his best finish of the year.
“Glad we had a solid night and we will take this and keep building on runs like this,” Kligerman said. “Good momentum going into our next few races.”
Next up: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series takes a week off, before heading to the famed Eldora Speedway on July 19.