With his third victory of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, John Hunter Nemechek reaffirmed Kyle Busch Motorsports’ mastery of 1.5-mile intermediate tracks Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Nemechek held off Sunoco rookie Carson Hocevar over a closing 10-lap green-flag run after a violent crash at the entrance to the tri-oval stripped the body off Johnny Sauter’s No. 13 Toyota and slowed the race for nine caution laps.
The victory was Nemechek’s first at Charlotte and the ninth of his career. It came after the driver of the No. 4 KBM Toyota clipped the wall early in Friday’s practice and ran just 10 circuits in the session.
“Hats off to all my guys, (crew chief) Eric Phillips , all my guys, everyone who works on this thing — everyone at KBM, the chassis shop, the fab shop… (owner) Kyle (Busch) for this opportunity,” said Nemechek, who beat a fast-closing Hocevar to the finish line by .419 seconds. “I’m so blessed to be in this spot.
“Hopefully, we can have some fun and celebrate tonight.”
Nemechek can celebrate his organization’s dominance of the intermediate speedways. With his earlier victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Busch’s wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway, Kyle Busch Motorsports has swept all four 1.5-milers so far this season.
Nemechek also collected the last of three $50,000 Triple Truck Challenge bonuses, awarded to the winners of the designated races. He also extended his series lead to 44 points over second-place Ben Rhodes.
For his part, Hocevar apologized to his Niece Motorsports team for the inexperience that prevented him from running down Nemechek at the end.
“I’ve never been in that position too many times, but I let it slip away,” said Hocevar, who nevertheless posted a career-best finish. “We’re chipping away at it.”
Rhodes ran third, followed by Stewart Friesen and Todd Gilliland, last Saturday’s winner at Circuit of The Americas. Chandler Smith, Ty Majeski, Derek Kraus, Austin Hill and Zane Smith completed the top 10.
Nemechek had a comfortable lead with 19 laps left when the No. 14 truck of Trey Hutchens III slowed to a crawl out of Turn 4 on Lap 115 of 134. Drew Dollar took evasive action, but Sauter, screened from a view of Hutchens’ Chevrolet by Dollar’s truck, plowed into the stalled vehicle and destroyed both trucks. Debris from the wreck knocked the roof camera on Nemechek’s truck out of commission.
Reigning series champion Sheldon Creed handily won Stage 1 but was eliminated in a three-wide wreck with Gilliland and Chase Purdy in Turn 4 on Lap 55.
Zane Smith took the green-checkered flag at the end of Stage 2, but a penalty for a crewman over the wall too soon sent him to the back for a Lap 69 restart and ruined his winning chances.
Next up for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is the SpeedyCash.com 220 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 12.
Notes: Post-race inspection was completed with no issues, confirming Nemechek as the winner. NASCAR officials indicated his No. 4 KBM truck as well as the No. 42 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet of Hocevar and the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford of Gilliland will go to the NASCAR R&D Center for further inspection and engine dyno.