For the first time ever, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series raced at Knoxville Raceway. Despite the fanfare and excitement surrounding Friday’s Corn Belt 150, it ultimately left many fans and drivers frustrated as multiple wrecks resulted in fourteen cautions and four overtimes that dragged out the event. By the end, Austin Hill was able to survive the carnage to win his first race of the year.
Hill started thirteenth while Derek Kraus was on the pole following heat races. While the first two stages ran mostly clean as much of the incidents were for single-truck spins, the wheels came off in the final stage as it featured nine of the fourteen cautions. Kraus, who won the first two stages, found himself antagonising much of the field with his driving, resulting in him being turned by Grant Enfinger and Tyler Ankrum during post-race cooldown laps.
While Truck races generally run for one-and-a-half hours, the Corn Belt 150 was stretched to 2 hours, 25 minutes, and 55 seconds due to the litany of cautions, especially in the final laps as constant overtime sessions from crashes resulted in laps being added; what was supposed to be a 150-lap event would end at 179. Such a lengthy race drew comparisons to the Daytona Road Course event in February, which ran longer than the Cup Series‘ race there the previous year and is the longest race in series history by duration, and the Darlington race in May that reached 2:28:40.
After Hailie Deegan, Sheldon Creed, and Jett Noland (ironically, Deegan and Creed have extensive off-road experience while Creed and Noland have raced together in the Stadium Super Trucks) wrecked with two laps remaining to set up the first overtime, the largest accident of the night was triggered shortly after the restart with seventeen total drivers involved. Three more overtimes would take place, and Hill escaped with his seventh career win and first of 2021.
“Kind of thought we were out of it there on that restart when I was on the outside of the #38 (Todd Gilliland) and I fell back to like twentieth and I didn’t think we were going to make it back up,” said Hill. “Track position was huge and it was really hard to get around people. You had to kind of rough them up to get around them. I just kept my head down. […]
“If you would have told me that we would win a dirt race this year, I would have told you that you were lying.”
Many expressed their displeasure with the race for various reasons, such as Knoxville’s viability as a track and the inexperience of drivers in the field. Others pointed out bizarre moments from race officials such as the flagman accidentally waving the white flag five laps too early in a heat race, resulting in a caution, and Ben Rhodes receiving a black flag as the feature was resuming rather than under caution. Some pointed out the relatively clean product that the Superstar Racing Experience provided at the track in June was a sign that changes to NASCAR’s handling of the event could save it in the future.
Creed was particularly vocal following his retirement from the race, telling FS1 that the Trucks should be racing at Iowa Speedway. The .875-mile paved track is located in the same state as Knoxville but was removed from the calendar after 2020.
Stewart Friesen, a dirt and Truck regular who was caught in the final caution, sardonically talked to Truck owner/driver Jordan Anderson about “rich kids buy(ing) rides” in response to Anderson tweeting he had “never seen guys with such disrespect for each other.”
Carson Hocevar, who ran in the top five for much of the event but finished sixteenth after a spin on the final lap from contact with John Hunter Nemechek, simply tweeted, “what a joke.” Hocevar’s Niece Motorsports team followed up by replying to Jayski’s Silly Season Site that Nemechek was responsible for the incident.
Nemechek finished eleventh but secured the regular season championship with an 85-point advantage over Rhodes entering the final race at Watkins Glen.
In the forty-driver field, Brian Brown—who ran the SRX Knoxville race—was the highest-finishing newcomer as he placed eighth. Devon Rouse (eighteenth), Jessica Friesen (twenty-sixth), Parker Price-Miller (twenty-ninth), Donny Schatz (thirty-second), and Morgan Alexander (fortieth) also made their Truck débuts in the race.
Tate Fogleman finished ninth for his first career top ten, and was the only Chevrolet driver to finish in the range. Chris Windom was fifteenth as a replacement driver for Michael Annett. Of the five heat race winners, Heat #4 victor Hocevar was the highest finisher ahead of Ankrum (Heat #3, seventeenth), Kyle Strickler (Heat #2, twenty-third), and Josh Berry (Heat #1, twenty-eighth).
|1||13||16||Austin Hill||Hattori Racing Enterprises||Toyota||179||Running|
|2||10||18||Chandler Smith||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota||179||Running|
|3||26||98||Grant Enfinger||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||179||Running|
|4||3||38||Todd Gilliland||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||179||Running|
|5||1||19||Derek Kraus||McAnally-Hilgemann Racing||Toyota||179||Running|
|6||9||88||Matt Crafton||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||179||Running|
|7||18||99||Ben Rhodes||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||179||Running|
|8||15||51||Brian Brown||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota||179||Running|
|9||28||12||Tate Fogleman||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet||179||Running|
|10||23||30||Danny Bohn||On Point Motorsports||Toyota||179||Running|
|11||37||4||John Hunter Nemechek||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota||179||Running|
|12||34||34||Jake Griffin||Reaume Brothers Racing||Chevrolet||179||Running|
|13||31||40||Ryan Truex||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||179||Running|
|14||14||21||Zane Smith||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||179||Running|
|15||32||02||Chris Windom*||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet||179||Running|
|16||5||42||Carson Hocevar||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||179||Running|
|17||2||26||Tyler Ankrum||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||179||Running|
|18||39||33||Devon Rouse||Reaume Brothers Racing||Chevrolet||179||Running|
|19||36||6||Norm Benning||Norm Benning Racing||Chevrolet||179||Running|
|20||6||13||Johnny Sauter||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||179||Running|
|21||4||1||Hailie Deegan||David Gilliland Racing||Ford||179||Running|
|22||24||41||Cody Erickson||Cram Racing Enterprises||Chevrolet||177||Running|
|23||8||20||Kyle Strickler||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet||177||Running|
|24||29||49||Andrew Gordon||CMI Motorsports||Toyota||177||Running|
|25||40||10||Jennifer Jo Cobb||Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing||Chevrolet||176||Running|
|26||25||62||Jessica Friesen||Halmar Friesen Racing||Toyota||175||Running|
|27||19||52||Stewart Friesen||Halmar Friesen Racing||Toyota||170||Running|
|28||11||25||Josh Berry*||Rackley WAR||Chevrolet||163||Accident|
|29||7||3||Parker Price-Miller||Jorda Anderson Racing||Chevrolet||160||Running|
|30||21||22||Austin Wayne Self||AM Racing||Chevrolet||159||Accident|
|31||27||15||Tanner Gray||David Gilliland Racing||Ford||153||Accident|
|32||22||17||Donny Schatz||David Gilliland Racing||Ford||153||Accident|
|33||30||23||Chase Purdy||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||153||Accident|
|34||38||9||Codie Rohrbaugh||CR7 Motorsports||Chevrolet||153||Accident|
|35||16||2||Sheldon Creed||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||153||Accident|
|36||12||04||Chase Briscoe*||Roper Racing||Ford||153||Accident|
|37||33||45||Jett Noland||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||151||Accident|
|38||17||37||Brett Moffitt*||AM Racing||Chevrolet||139||Accident|
|39||20||24||Jack Wood||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||91||Accident|
|40||35||44||Morgan Alexander||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||63||Accident|
* – Ineligible for Truck points