NASCAR Truck Series

Martin Truex Jr. dominates first Truck start since 2006, wins Pinty’s Dirt Race

5 Mins read
Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

After two days of waiting, the NASCAR Camping World Truck SeriesPinty’s Dirt Truck Race at Bristol Motor Speedway finally took place. With his series’ Food City Dirt Race taking place later in the day, Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. found himself getting plenty of preparation for Bristol’s dirt configuration as he dominated his first Truck race since 2006, leading 105 of 150 laps en route to his maiden win in the third tier.

Heavy rain forced Saturday’s heat races to be cancelled and the original start date to be moved to Sunday before more rain and flash flooding led to it being postponed again to Monday. With no heats to set the grid, John Hunter Nemechek started on the pole ahead of Austin Hill. Truex, making his third career Truck start, was one of eight drivers in the field running both the Truck and Cup races; driving the #51 for Kyle Busch Motorsports, he was the highest starter in fifteenth.

Stage #1

Derek Kraus pitted shortly prior to the green flag to address a mechanical issue before rejoining the race. Nemechek and Hill battled for the lead on the opening lap before Sheldon Creed took the spot. On lap 12, Tanner Gray spun for the first caution of the day. Another yellow came on lap 26 for Carson Hocevar‘s engine expiring. A third caution took place for Chandler Smith spinning before being impacted by Tyler Ankrum, ending the latter’s day and setting up a two-lap dash to the stage conclusion.

Truex overtook Creed on the restart to take the stage win, continuing his trend of lower series stage victories as he won the first two stages in last week’s Xfinity Series event, his first in the series since 2010. Creed finished second ahead of Zane Smith, Stewart Friesen, Nemechek, Hill, Friday final practice leader Ben Rhodes, Matt Crafton, Grant Enfinger, and Johnny Sauter. GMS Racing team-mates Creed and Smith were the lone non-Toyota drivers in the top ten.

Stage #2

Being a dirt race, live pit stops and the caution between stages were replaced by a red flag period to allow teams to service their trucks. Sauter and Friesen elected to stay out and became the leaders to start Stage #2 on lap 41.

On lap 50, Nemechek was turned by Crafton and beached along the turn one wall. Kraus spun and slid into Nemechek, while Timothy Peters lightly tapped the former as he came to a stop before continuing. To add insult to injury, Nemechek’s stopped truck was eventually knocked aside by a safety truck, sending it into the inside wall.

https://twitter.com/BMSupdates/status/1376576357233201153

Nemechek subsequently tweeted, “Where do we exchange insurance information?”

The incident resulted in a seven-minute red flag before the race resumed on lap 58 with Truex leading Rhodes.

Over the next twenty laps, three yellow flags were waved: Jennifer Jo Cobb spun on lap 62, Norm Benning‘s truck stopped on the track on lap 71, and Myatt Snider spun on lap 79. Benning was eventually parked by NASCAR as officials ruled his incident as an intentional caution.

Although he has little dirt experience, Truex’s domination continued as he took the Stage #2 victory. Rhodes, Hill, Cup racer Chase Briscoe, Creed, Todd Gilliland, Friesen, Friday first practice leader Raphaël Lessard, Austin Wayne Self, and Grant Enfinger closed out the top ten.

Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Stage #3

Enfinger and Chase Purdy did not pit and assumed the top two spots for the final segment. Although Enfinger led the first two laps, Truex returned to his spot at the front.

On lap 98, the slow truck of Mike Marlar forced Creed and Kyle Larson into a squeeze as they tried to avoid him; although Creed slipped by on the inside, Larson hit Marlar’s rear and destroyed his front end. Danny Bohn spun into Larson and Larson’s Niece Motorsports team-mate Brett Moffitt also went around in his effort to dodge. The wreck necessitated another red flag that lasted five minutes.

Truex continued to lead through the next wreck on lap 118 between Sauter and Smith. Sauter was then penalised for pitting outside his box. Another restart led to six laps of racing before NASCAR newcomer Andrew Gordon spun into the frontstretch pit wall and became lodged in the sand barrels. Unable to escape as a truck with a rear-wheel drive obviously cannot move if its rear wheels are in the air, a third red flag was deployed.

After a four-minute pause, the final restart came with 12 laps to go as Truex pulled away from the dueling Lessard and Rhodes. With the victory, Truex became the thirty-sixth driver to win a race in each of NASCAR’s three national series and the second to achieve the feat in 2021, joining Cup team-mate Christopher Bell.

“I guess they had to put dirt on Bristol to get me back into Victory Lane here,” Truex told FS1. “It’s been a long time. That was a blast. I’m still really surprised. I wanted to run this race so I could get more experience for the Cup car, and then we got out there in practice and it felt really good and I was having a lot of fun, so I just kept trying to work with the guys and tell them what I needed[…]

“That was a blast. I kept thinking, ‘What’s going to happen next, am I going to get a flat tyre or something stupid?’ This #51 is pretty much used to finishing in Victory Lane, so a lot of pressure there, so I’m glad we could get it done.”

Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Rhodes, Lessard, Gilliland, Briscoe, Enfinger, Smith, Parker Kligerman, Hill, and Self finished behind him. Among the six double-duty drivers outside the top ten, Truex’s Toyota ally Bubba Wallace was eleventh ahead of Friesen (twelfth), Kevin Harvick (fifteenth), Daniel Suárez (seventeenth), Marlar (twenty-eighth), and Larson (thirty-fifth). While everyone else is a Cup regular, the Food City Dirt Race will mark Friesen and Marlar’s Cup débuts.

“I think if you’ve got a good car, you are going to be good all day long,” Truex commented in regards to lessons learned from the Truck race in preparation for the Cup event. “It just depends on what they do to the track. It’s getting hotter, it’s going to keep drying out and get slicker, so we will see what they do to prep it, but no matter what they do, that was a blast and I’m looking forward to this afternoon. […]

“I learned a ton. Obviously, the track changed a huge amount and my wish is that they could put it back to the way we started this race because that’s what really made it fun. You could move around early in the race, especially make moves and we went from fifteenth to the lead in fifteen or twenty laps. You could move around on the race track a little bit more than you could at the end. Hopefully, they’ll do some more work and get it back closer to what it was. By the end of our race, it’s going to be super slick. It’s going to be really black all the way around and guys are going to have their hands full. It’s going to be fun.”

Race results

FinishStartNumberDriverTeamManufacturerLapsStatus
11551Martin Truex Jr.*Kyle Busch MotorsportsToyota150Running
2999Ben RhodesThorSport RacingToyota150Running
32924Raphaël LessardGMS RacingChevrolet150Running
41338Todd GillilandFront Row MotorsportsFord150Running
53304Chase Briscoe*Roper RacingFord150Running
6898Grant EnfingerThorSport RacingToyota150Running
7621Zane SmithGMS RacingChevrolet150Running
81675Parker KligermanHenderson MotorsportsChevrolet150Running
9216Austin HillHattori Racing EnterprisesToyota150Running
101722Austin Wayne SelfAM RacingChevrolet150Running
113211Bubba Wallace*Spencer Davis MotorsportsToyota150Running
12752Stewart FriesenHalmar Friesen RacingToyota150Running
131815Tanner GrayDavid Gilliland RacingFord150Running
14488Matt CraftonThorSport RacingToyota150Running
153017Kevin Harvick*David Gilliland RacingFord150Running
1632Sheldon CreedGMS RacingChevrolet150Running
172602Daniel Suárez*Young’s MotorsportsChevrolet150Running
182323Chase PurdyGMS RacingChevrolet150Running
19221Hailie DeeganDavid Gilliland RacingFord150Running
201440Ryan TruexNiece MotorsportsChevrolet150Running
211142Carson HocevarNiece MotorsportsChevrolet150Running
223733Myatt Snider*Reaume Brothers RacingChevrolet150Running
232412Tate FoglemanYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet150Running
241045Brett MoffittNiece MotorsportsChevrolet150Running
253120Spencer BoydYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet150Running
263441Cody EricksonCram Racing EnterprisesChevrolet150Running
27209Codie RohrbaughCR7 MotorsportsChevrolet150Running
283856Mike Marlar*Hill MotorsportsChevrolet148Running
293634Jake GriffinReaume Brothers RacingToyota147Running
302725Timothy PetersRackley WARChevrolet147Running
314049Andrew GordonCMI MotorsportsChevrolet144Running
32513Johnny SauterThorSport RacingToyota124Accident
333510Jennifer Jo CobbJennifer Jo Cobb RacingChevrolet120Electrical
342118Chandler SmithKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota117Accident
352844Kyle Larson*Niece MotorsportsChevrolet98Accident
362530Danny BohnOn Point MotorsportsToyota98Accident
37396Norm BenningNorm Benning RacingChevrolet72Parked
381219Derek KrausMcAnally-Hilgemann RacingToyota49Accident
3914John Hunter NemechekKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota48Accident
401926Tyler AnkrumGMS RacingChevrolet34Accident
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Truck points
1271 posts

About author
History major at San Jose State University and lifelong motorsports fan who covers NASCAR and the Stadium Super Trucks.
Articles
Related posts
NASCAR Truck Series

Niece to reward Gateway Dirt SLM winner with Truck ride for Knoxville

2 Mins read
Niece Motorsports is offering the winner of Saturday’s Super Late Model feature at the Gateway Dirt Nationals a ride for the NASCAR Truck Series race at Knoxville.
NASCAR Truck Series

Tyler Ankrum signs with Hattori for 2022 NASCAR Trucks

1 Mins read
A day after Chase Purdy joined Hattori Racing Enterprises for the 2022 NASCAR Truck season, his team-mate Tyler Ankrum has followed suit. Ankrum will drive the #16.
NASCAR Truck Series

Tate Fogleman points 2022 Truck plans to On Point

1 Mins read
Reigning NASCAR Trucks Talladega winner Tate Fogleman will move from Young’s Motorsports to On Point Motorsports for the 2022 season.