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May 11, 2024

Ross Chastain prevails in overtime to win Truck Series race at Darlington

DARLINGTON, S.C. — Taking advantage of a late caution, Ross Chastain surged ahead during an overtime restart and held off Nick Sanchez to win Friday night’s Buckle Up South Carolina 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Darlington Raceway.

Moonlighting from the Cup Series in a race delayed more than two hours by rain, Chastain, driving for Niece Motorsports, led only the last three laps after seizing the top spot from Ty Majeski on the overtime restart on Lap 148.

RELATED: Race results | At-track photos

Sanchez finished second, 0.315 seconds behind Chastain. Defending series champion Ben Rhodes was third, followed by Christian Eckes. Majeski, who chose the top lane on the front row for the final restart, faded to fifth.

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“We have been trying to win at Darlington,” said Chastain, who picked up his fifth Truck Series victory and his first of the year in his second start. “This is where my career changed, my life changed forever.

“It’s so cool — we won Darlington.”

It was at the “Lady in Black” in 2018 that Chastain first turned heads in the NASCAR world. Driving a handful of Xfinity Series races for team owner Chip Ganassi, he won the pole at Darlington and swept the first two stages before an accident relegated him to a 25th-place finish.

But at that point, he had made his mark, and on Friday night, Chastain completed the circle.

WATCH: Chastain reacts to special Darlington win

Sanchez won the pole for Friday’s race but had to start from the rear after his team replaced a right-rear hub on his No. 2 Chevrolet. On the final restart, he surged from the inside of the third row into second place but couldn’t catch Chastain before the finish.

Majeski lamented his lane choice after the fact.

“I should have taken the inside,” said Majeski, who held a lead of more than five seconds before Jack Wood hit the outside wall with five laps left to cause the seventh caution and force overtime.

“It sucks when you’re in position to win with a truck like that. We were so good on the long run and not so good on the short run. It would take 10-15 laps for this thing to get going, and then the thing was just lights out.

“But it came down to a short run, and I didn’t execute like we needed to.”

Corey Heim, the series leader entering the race, swept the first two stages with 77 laps led, but after a Lap 98 restart, the No. 5 Toyota of Dean Thompson broke loose beneath Heim’s No. 11 Tundra at the exit from Turn 2 and ignited a wreck that severely damaged the trucks of Heim, Rajah Caruth, Layne Riggs and Matt Crafton.

Caruth, who was eliminated along with Heim, Thompson and Crafton, had started from the rear after scraping the wall during qualifying earlier in the day, but had worked his way up to second by pitting for fresh tires midway through Stage 2.

“It’s real tight there off of (Turn) 2, and the 5 just kind of lost it there,” Caruth said after exiting the infield care center. “We had a really fast truck. We’ll get ’em next time.”

MORE: Truck Series standings | Truck Series schedule

Heim surrendered the series points lead to Eckes and trails by 14 points.

Racing for the first time in a truck at Darlington, Kyle Busch was challenging Heim for the lead on Lap 2 when his No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet snapped loose on the backstretch and nosed into the inside wall.

Busch lost seven laps on pit road as his crew tried to make repairs. After he returned to the action, Busch pounded the Turn 1 wall and exited the race in 32nd place.

That result marked a dubious distinction for the all-time Truck Series winner with 66 victories to his credit. Before Friday night, Busch had never finished last in a Truck Series race.

“The truck was wrecked — there’s no reason it should have been back on the race track,” Busch told FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass after the second accident.

The Truck Series is action again at the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway on Saturday (1:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

NOTE: No issues were found during post-race technical inspection, confirming Chastain as the race winner. No vehicles will be taken back to the NASCAR R&D Center for teardown inspection.