NASCAR Truck Series

John Hunter Nemechek scores 3rd Truck win in 2021 with NCEL 200 victory

3 Mins read
Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

After a long winless dry spell that lasted a whopping three races, John Hunter Nemechek is back in Victory Lane. Although GMS Racing‘s Sheldon Creed and Zane Smith won the first two stages, the points leader dominated the final stage en route to his third win of the season in Friday’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Although practice was held earlier in the day (led by fellow Toyota driver Austin Hill with Nemechek in second), qualifying was cancelled due to rain and the grid was set by formula. Consequently, last week’s winner Todd Gilliland started on the pole ahead of Creed.

Creed led the entire, caution-free first stage en route to the segment win. Gilliland, Nemechek, Hill, Smith, Tyler Ankrum, Derek Kraus, Matt Crafton, Ben Rhodes, and Hailie Deegan rounded out the top ten.

Nemechek took the lead early in the second stage and led until Tanner Gray spun and was impacted by Bret Holmes for the caution. Creed fell victim to his own incident when he collided with a loose Gilliland, sending him into the wall and a spin before being hit by GMS team-mate Chase Purdy. The Creed wreck set up a one-lap dash to the finish that Smith won ahead of Hill, Ty Majeski, Kraus, Ryan Truex, Crafton, Carson Hocevar, Stewart Friesen, and Nemechek.

The final stage began with Nemechek once again in front. On lap 116, during green-flag pit stops, Crafton sped down pit road due to smoke; on the track, Trey Hutchens cut a tyre and hit the wall. Johnny Sauter and Drew Dollar attempted to race by him but there was insufficient room to squeeze by, resulting in the two slamming into Hutchens and shearing Sauter’s right side off.

The ensuing caution raised great concern from fans and media as safety crews had a prolonged response to Sauter while NASCAR elected to keep the race under yellow instead of switching to red-flag conditions.

“At the exact time the 14 (Hutchens) had its incident, the 88 (Crafton) was smoking and speeding down pit road,” explained NASCAR. “The focus was on that and whether there was any oil on the track that needed cleaning to avoid any further incidents. Once the collision occurred with the 13 (Sauter), we threw the caution.”

The race resumed on lap 125 as Nemechek continued to lead. Despite a concerted effort by Hocevar, he could not catch Nemechek as he stormed off to his series-leading third win of the year. It marks Toyota’s eighth victory in ten races in 2021.

“I completed two laps and wrecked on lap three (in practice),” Nemechek commented. “Huge shoutout to all my guys, Eric Phillips (crew chief) and all our guys here and back at the shop. The pit crew pretty much won the race tonight I feel like on pit road. We were able to jump some guys there after the first stage. It was so hard to pass. It was amazing. Eric did a great job making adjustments all night and I was telling him what we needed. This was our baby truck, this one has won three races for me this year and sadly, it’s going to have to get fixed with that crazy crash. […]

“(The practice wreck) might be a speed secret, I don’t know.”

Hocevar’s runner-up finish marks the rookie’s best career run to date. Majeski finished seventh in his first Truck start of the year.

Race results

144John Hunter NemechekKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota134Running
2942Carson HocevarNiece MotorsportsChevrolet134Running
3599Ben RhodesThorSport RacingToyota134Running
41152Stewart FriesenHalmar Friesen RacingToyota134Running
5138Todd GillilandFront Row MotorsportsFord134Running
62318Chandler SmithKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota134Running
73166Ty MajeskiThorSport RacingToyota134Running
81519Derek KrausMcAnally-Hilgemann RacingToyota134Running
9316Austin HillHattori Racing EnterprisesToyota134Running
10621Zane SmithGMS RacingChevrolet134Running
112298Christian EckesThorSport RacingToyota134Running
121640Ryan TruexNiece MotorsportsChevrolet134Running
13121Hailie DeeganDavid Gilliland RacingFord133Running
1489Grant EnfingerCR7 MotorsportsChevrolet133Running
152024Jack WoodGMS RacingChevrolet133Running
16726Tyler AnkrumGMS RacingChevrolet133Running
171322Austin Wayne SelfAM RacingChevrolet133Running
181856Timmy HillHill MotorsportsChevrolet133Running
191945Bayley CurreyNiece MotorsportsChevrolet133Running
201751Drew DollarKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota133Running
213641Dawson CramCram Racing EnterprisesChevrolet133Running
222515Tanner GrayDavid Gilliland RacingFord133Running
232102Kris WrightYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet132Running
243230Danny BohnOn Point MotorsportsToyota131Running
252704Cory RoperRoper RacingFord129Running
263520Spencer BoydYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet128Running
273034C.J. McLaughlinReaume Brothers RacingToyota127Running
283433Akinori OgataReaume Brothers RacingChevrolet125Running
29333Keith McGeeJordan Anderson RacingChevrolet123Running
301088Matt CraftonThorSport RacingToyota114Engine
311413Johnny SauterThorSport RacingToyota111Accident
323814Trey HutchensTrey Hutchens RacingChevrolet108Accident
333710Jennifer Jo CobbJennifer Jo Cobb RacingFord71Suspension
342623Chase PurdyGMS RacingChevrolet59DVP
3522Sheldon CreedGMS RacingChevrolet55Accident
362832Bret HolmesBret Holmes RacingChevrolet49Accident
372412Tate FoglemanYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet38Rear Gear
382925Timothy PetersRackley WARChevrolet13Steering
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
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About author
Justin is a History major at San Jose State University and lifelong racing fan who has worked for The Checkered Flag since 2018. His coverage mainly focuses on NASCAR, the Stadium Super Trucks, and off-road series like Extreme E and SCORE International. He also dabbles in other disciplines such as IndyCar, rallycross, and sports cars.
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