John Hunter Nemechek passed his boss, Kyle Busch, with six laps to go to steal the win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series CRC Brakleen 150 at Pocono Raceway.
“I matched [Kyle’s] restart in the box pretty well, and the No. 2 didn’t quite get to his bumper as fast as I thought he would,” Nemechek said. “The outside lane was dominant here today on restarts so for me it was getting the best launch I could and to keep the No. 38 behind me”.
Busch started the race from the 22nd position based on NASCAR’s new formula, and made it all the way up to third place by the end of the first stage. He pit before the end of stage two for track position, and cycled to the lead on the restart to begin stage three. Busch led 20 laps up through a caution with nine laps to go involving the No. 52 truck of Stewart Friesen.
Nemecheck took the lead on a restart with six laps to go, forcing Busch to battle with Sheldon Creed for third place. Busch and Creed made contact in turn two with four laps to go, putting both drivers too far back to have a chance at victory.
“I was hoping I could have a shot to be able to go back and fight back after [Nemechek], but then I got drilled by [Creed],” Busch said. “Good day for KBM, 1-2, we had fast tundras”.
Creed believes that his decision to split up the KBM trucks on the restart may have backfired, resulting in the contact between him and Busch down the stretch.
“I thought splitting [Busch and Nemechek] up would be good,” Creed said. “I didn’t know if I could trust Preece or not, I should’ve trusted him [though]. The Cup guys race so much better and they actually help each other, so I should’ve just trusted him”.
After getting off to a rough start this season, Tyler Ankrum finally got things to click with his third top-5 of 2021. Ankrum was able to overcome an early speeding penalty to register a 33-point day.
“It wasn’t my fastest truck, but we had a good handling truck,” Ankrum said. “Didn’t have anything there for the KBM trucks or [Creed], in clean air, I just had no speed”.
Ankrum sits 13th in points, just three spots outside the 10-man playoff grid. He was able to gain ground on 12th place driver Johnny Sauter, as he wrecked on the first lap of the race and placed 35th. Sauter’s crash with Jack Wood was just one of two natural cautions all race.
With just two races until the end of the regular season, Nemechek leads the points standings by nearly 100 points. Only four drivers competing for Truck Series points have won races in 2021, the others being Ben Rhodes, Todd Gilliland, and Creed.
The NASCAR Truck Series returns to action on Friday, July 9 at Knoxville Speedway for a dirt race. They’ll return to pavement August 7 for the regular series finale at Watkins Glen.