The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series were the first NASCAR-sanctioned division to officially race at Circuit of the Americas with Saturday’s Toyota Tundra 225. Despite the race name, Chevrolet and Ford drivers dominated the day and the latter camp’s Todd Gilliland came out on top.
Tyler Ankrum was the fastest qualifier earlier in the day when he set a lap time of 163.591 seconds at 75.041 mph, allowing him to start on the pole ahead of road ringer Kaz Grala. Cameron Lawrence, an IMSA driver making his NASCAR début, impressed by qualifying seventh for Reaume Brothers Racing’s best starting spot. Seven drivers failed to qualify including series regulars Spencer Boyd, Dawson Cram, and Jennifer Jo Cobb; the other four—Logan Bearden and the CMI Motorsports trio of Samuel Lecomte, John Atwell, and Brad Gross—were NASCAR newcomers.
Grala, who scored a top ten in the first Truck road race at Daytona in February in a one-off, quickly took the lead and dominated the opening stage. However, Gilliland kept pace and caught him with two laps remaining, making the pass to win the segment after the two ran wide. Ankrum, Matt Crafton, Ben Rhodes, Sam Mayer, Stewart Friesen, John Hunter Nemechek, and Timmy Hill rounded out the top ten.
Gilliland was among a variety of drivers who received pit penalties between stages and GMS Racing team-mates Sheldon Creed and Zane Smith, who topped Friday’s practice session, led the field to begin Stage #2. Creed, who won the Daytona Road Course in 2020 and the Stadium Super Trucks‘ X Games gold medal at COTA in 2015, led much of the stage before being one of many who pitted under green. Rhodes inherited the lead as a result and won the stage ahead of ThorSport Racing ally Crafton. Derek Kraus, Creed, Ankrum, Grala, Bayley Currey, Mayer, Nemechek, and Gilliland also finished in the top ten.
Nemechek was penalised for pitting while pit road was closed and started the final stage at the rear. Rhodes, Crafton, and Kraus—all Toyota drivers—pitted between stages as Creed and Ankrum occupied the front row. It did not take long for the spins to mount with Kraus, Friesen, Tanner Gray, and Parker Kligerman all going around. Timothy Peters and Lawrence dropped off the pace due to damage or mechanical trouble.
Creed, who won the most recent Truck race two weeks ago, continued to lead until Ankrum passed him with ten laps remaining. The reigning champion began to sink through the order as Gilliland moved by him and began chasing down Ankrum. Gilliland finally cleared Ankrum with six laps to go and drove off to his second career win and first since fall Martinsville 2019.
It is Front Row Motorsports‘s first Truck victory since forming a Truck programme in 2020, and the team’s second victory of 2021 after Cup Series driver Michael McDowell won the Daytona 500. Gilliland’s father David, who runs FRM ally David Gilliland Racing and is a former Cup racer for FRM, celebrated with his son in Victory Lane.
“Great race for us here at COTA,” began the younger Gilliland in a Twitter video. “First NASCAR winners here, that’s so cool. Just a great truck. […] Man, what a race. Started off in the rain and kinda ended up pretty dry and we were just able to pull away there at the end. Just such a fast truck.”
Grala got by Ankrum to finish second, marking his third top ten in four national series starts in 2021. Creed led a race-high fourteen laps and finished fifth, preserving his 100% top-five Truck finishes on road courses.
In his return to NASCAR after retiring in 2019, Paul Menard finished his first Truck race since 2007 just shy of the top ten in eleventh. Jack Wood (twenty-eighth) was the highest finisher of the three Truck Series-débuting drivers ahead of Michele Abbate (twenty-ninth) and Lawrence (thirty-sixth).
|1||5||38||Todd Gilliland||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||41||Running|
|2||2||02||Kaz Grala||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet||41||Running|
|3||1||26||Tyler Ankrum||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||41||Running|
|4||23||9||Grant Enfinger||CR7 Motorsports||Chevrolet||41||Running|
|5||3||2||Sheldon Creed||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||41||Running|
|6||21||32||Sam Mayer||Bret Holmes Racing||Chevrolet||41||Running|
|7||17||42||Carson Hocevar||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||41||Running|
|8||15||21||Zane Smith||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||41||Running|
|9||9||16||Austin Hill||Hattori Racing Enterprises||Toyota||41||Running|
|10||11||99||Ben Rhodes||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||41||Running|
|11||26||66||Paul Menard||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||41||Running|
|12||6||4||John Hunter Nemechek||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota||41||Running|
|13||13||75||Parker Kligerman||Henderson Motorsports||Chevrolet||41||Running|
|14||28||1||Hailie Deegan||David Gilliland Racing||Ford||41||Running|
|15||4||88||Matt Crafton||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||41||Running|
|16||29||22||Austin Wayne Self||AM Racing||Chevrolet||41||Running|
|17||16||52||Stewart Friesen||Halmar Friesen Racing||Toyota||41||Running|
|18||8||51||Parker Chase||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota||41||Running|
|19||24||11||Camden Murphy||Spencer Davis Motorsports||Toyota||41||Running|
|20||12||40||Ryan Truex||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||41||Running|
|21||19||19||Derek Kraus||McAnally-Hilgemann Racing||Toyota||41||Running|
|22||27||13||Johnny Sauter||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||41||Running|
|23||32||34||Lawless Alan||Reaume Brothers Racing||Toyota||41||Running|
|24||22||56||Timmy Hill||Hill Motorsports||Chevrolet||41||Running|
|25||30||12||Tate Fogleman||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet||41||Running|
|26||14||45||Bayley Currey||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||41||Running|
|27||31||23||Chase Purdy||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||41||Running|
|28||33||24||Jack Wood||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||41||Running|
|29||25||30||Michele Abbate||On Point Motorsports||Toyota||41||Running|
|30||34||04||Cory Roper||Roper Racing||Ford||41||Running|
|31||36||15||Tanner Gray||David Gilliland Racing||Ford||40||Running|
|32||18||25||Timothy Peters||Rackley WAR||Chevrolet||40||Running|
|33||20||18||Chandler Smith||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota||39||Running|
|34||35||3||Roger Reuse||Jordan Anderson Racing||Chevrolet||38||Running|
|35||10||98||Christian Eckes||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||36||Suspension|
|36||7||33||Cameron Lawrence||Reaume Brothers Racing||Chevrolet||34||Running|