After two days of waiting, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series‘ Pinty’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
|1||15||51||Martin Truex Jr.*||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota||150||Running|
|2||9||99||Ben Rhodes||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||150||Running|
|3||29||24||Raphaël Lessard||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||150||Running|
|4||13||38||Todd Gilliland||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||150||Running|
|5||33||04||Chase Briscoe*||Roper Racing||Ford||150||Running|
|6||8||98||Grant Enfinger||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||150||Running|
|7||6||21||Zane Smith||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||150||Running|
|8||16||75||Parker Kligerman||Henderson Motorsports||Chevrolet||150||Running|
|9||2||16||Austin Hill||Hattori Racing Enterprises||Toyota||150||Running|
|10||17||22||Austin Wayne Self||AM Racing||Chevrolet||150||Running|
|11||32||11||Bubba Wallace*||Spencer Davis Motorsports||Toyota||150||Running|
|12||7||52||Stewart Friesen||Halmar Friesen Racing||Toyota||150||Running|
|13||18||15||Tanner Gray||David Gilliland Racing||Ford||150||Running|
|14||4||88||Matt Crafton||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||150||Running|
|15||30||17||Kevin Harvick*||David Gilliland Racing||Ford||150||Running|
|16||3||2||Sheldon Creed||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||150||Running|
|17||26||02||Daniel Suárez*||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet||150||Running|
|18||23||23||Chase Purdy||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||150||Running|
|19||22||1||Hailie Deegan||David Gilliland Racing||Ford||150||Running|
|20||14||40||Ryan Truex||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||150||Running|
|21||11||42||Carson Hocevar||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||150||Running|
|22||37||33||Myatt Snider*||Reaume Brothers Racing||Chevrolet||150||Running|
|23||24||12||Tate Fogleman||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet||150||Running|
|24||10||45||Brett Moffitt||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||150||Running|
|25||31||20||Spencer Boyd||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet||150||Running|
|26||34||41||Cody Erickson||Cram Racing Enterprises||Chevrolet||150||Running|
|27||20||9||Codie Rohrbaugh||CR7 Motorsports||Chevrolet||150||Running|
|28||38||56||Mike Marlar*||Hill Motorsports||Chevrolet||148||Running|
|29||36||34||Jake Griffin||Reaume Brothers Racing||Toyota||147||Running|
|30||27||25||Timothy Peters||Rackley WAR||Chevrolet||147||Running|
|31||40||49||Andrew Gordon||CMI Motorsports||Chevrolet||144||Running|
|32||5||13||Johnny Sauter||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||124||Accident|
|33||35||10||Jennifer Jo Cobb||Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing||Chevrolet||120||Electrical|
|34||21||18||Chandler Smith||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota||117||Accident|
|35||28||44||Kyle Larson*||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||98||Accident|
|36||25||30||Danny Bohn||On Point Motorsports||Toyota||98||Accident|
|37||39||6||Norm Benning||Norm Benning Racing||Chevrolet||72||Parked|
|38||12||19||Derek Kraus||McAnally-Hilgemann Racing||Toyota||49||Accident|
|39||1||4||John Hunter Nemechek||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota||48||Accident|
|40||19||26||Tyler Ankrum||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||34||Accident|
* – Ineligible for Truck points