It’s hard to imagine, but Tuesday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the first time since February at Las Vegas Motor Speedway that the NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series was last in action.
When the entry list was announced, 47 Trucks were entered, the largest-field of Trucks in quite some time. Unfortunately, seven of those got sent home after a random draw that took place a week ago. Just imagine, 47 Trucks racing on the track at the same time, it would have been wild.
When 40 Trucks took the track for the first time in three months many did not know what to expect. A big pile-up? Some taking it easy? Actually, neither of these took place. It was a similar race to the one at Las Vegas back in February, run cleanly and smoothly, without a lot of cautions.
However, this type of race was certainly different. Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis and NASCAR Cup Series superstar Kevin Harvick had placed a $100,000 bounty on the all-time wins leader, Kyle Busch. Originally, it was $50,000 before Lemonis stepped in.
Knowing that Busch is pretty much unstoppable in the Truck Series, it was interesting to see if anyone could beat him. That’s when Cup regulars, Chase Elliott, John Hunter Nemechek and Brennan Poole, took the opportunity in hopes of beating Busch, albeit, cleanly on the track. And wouldn’t you know it? It came down coincidentally, to Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch, the two drivers that had a run-in with each other last week at the Cup race in Darlington. It’s funny how things work out.
As it turned out, Elliott would outrun Busch to the finish line by .627 seconds for the third Truck Series victory of his career. It was his first win in the series since three years ago in 2017 at Martinsville Speedway.
While Elliott fended off Busch for the victory, there were some other notables during the race. So, with that said, here are four takeaways from the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.
1. More Bounty – After Tuesday night’s race, the bounty that will be donated to a coronavirus relief charity of the driver’s choice was so successful that Marcus Lemonis stepped in once again and offered another bounty for the upcoming Atlanta Truck Series race next month. This time, anyone is eligible for the bounty and the award is $25,000 to anyone who wins the race. With the bounty being thrown out, there have been past drivers who have become interested such as former series champion Todd Bodine and former NASCAR driver, Kenny Wallace. While the bounty is most certainly fun, it also definitely brings extra attention to the Truck Series and makes it a great race to watch.
2. GMS Racing Places Four Trucks In Top Five – It was a strong-night for the GMS Racing team, who had five Trucks entered in the race, including race winner Chase Elliott. At one point or another, you would almost find at least one of those Trucks up near the front, challenging for a stage win or the lead. While Elliott’s Truck was the best among the GMS stable, there was another driver who shined; rookie Zane Smith. Smith put himself up there with leaders Busch and Elliott and other series drivers and actually led 15 laps. It was the first time ever that Smith was able to lead laps in the Truck Series. The California native also had sporadic battles with Kyle Busch near the end, as well. Ultimately, GMS Racing finished first, third, fourth, fifth, and 13th. Not a bad night for the team.
3. Clean Race For The Most Part – When you see 40 Trucks on track and add in several rookies, you sometimes think that this is going to be a caution-filled race. Well actually, it wasn’t, at least toward the very end. The first caution that came out for an actual incident was Lap 81 when a multi-truck crash broke loose that was started by Jesse Iwuji. After that incident, there were really only two more cautions for incidents. Speaking of the accident on Lap 81, Iwuji apologized for the incident which took out drivers, Stewart Friesen, Brennan Poole, and Tyler Ankrum.
4. Ty Majeski Earns Best Career Finish To Date – Overlooked in the finishing order, could very well be Niece Motorsports driver, Ty Majeski. Majeski finished eighth, which was his best finish in the Truck Series in over four starts. The Wisconsin driver finished fifth in Stage 1 before earning a top-10 finish. Now it’s only a matter of time before Majeski scores his first win in the series.