John Hunter Nemechek charges to Camping World Truck Series win at Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — In a race delayed for two days by a freak snowstorm in southern Virginia, John Hunter Nemechek charged to the front on a restart with 31 laps left on Monday and held off Kyle Benjamin to win the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race by a mere .106 seconds.

The victory was the first at Martinsville for Nemechek, who had two previous runner-up finishes at the .526-mile short track. This time, despite Benjamin pounding his rear bumper in the final corner, Nemechek earned the grandfather clock trophy that goes to the race winner

“I’ve finished second here multiple times so, tick, tock – we finally got a clock,” Nemechek said. “It’s going to be awesome to take that thing home.”

Nemechek picked up his sixth career win in the Truck Series in his third start of the season, and he did it with a skeleton staff at the race shop owned by his father, Joe Nemechek.

“I can’t thank everyone on our staff enough – everyone who pours their heart and soul into this deal,” Nemechek said. “There’s only four guys in our shop this year, so it’s really cool to be able to come back over here to the Truck Series…

“Congrats to all these guys – these guys deserve it.”

After Nemechek grabbed the top spot on Lap 220 of 250, he held it through three subsequent cautions. Nemechek cleared Benjamin after the final restart on Lap 244, and though Benjamin closed on the No. 8 Chevrolet over the last seven laps, finally getting to the bumper in the final corner, he needed a few more laps to make a concerted run at the victory.

“We had a really good truck, mostly for long runs, and unfortunately, it came down to a short run,” said Benjamin, who was making his Martinsville debut. “It’s Martinsville, so I figured I had to give him a run for his money in the last corner.”

Benjamin had a lead of more than one second over Todd Gilliland when a debris caution slowed the race on Lap 214 and gave Nemechek the chance he needed on the subsequent restart. The shuffling of the order, at least, alleviated one case of divided loyalties.

David Gilliland was co-owner of the No. 54 Toyota Benjamin was driving, and his son Todd was behind the wheel of the No. 4 Toyota of Kyle Busch Motorsports. After the restart on Lap 220, Todd Gilliland brushed the wall and lost track position with a pit stop under caution on Lap 234. He finished 14th.

Pole winner Ben Rhodes led the first 23 laps on Saturday before rain and snow halted the race. With heavy snow falling Saturday night and early Sunday morning, NASCAR was forced to postpone the finish until Monday.

Rhodes won both the first and second stages of the race, collecting two playoff points, but severe trouble with his right front tire on a Lap 145 pit stop after the second stage dropped him to 15th in the running order.

Rhodes never recovered from the loss of track position and came home 12th.

Johnny Sauter lost two laps changing a battery after losing power on Lap 224 and getting rear-ended by Matt Crafton. Sauter finished 19th but retained the series lead by 29 points over Grant Enfinger, who ran fourth on Monday.

Brett Moffitt, who pitted late for new tires, fought his way up to third at the finish and is third in points, 31 behind Sauter.

Noah Gragson, Myatt Snider, Timothy Peters, Harrison Burton, Austin Hill and Justin Haley completed the top 10 in Monday’s race.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race – Alpha Energy Solutions 250

Martinsville Speedway

Martinsville, Virginia

Saturday, March 24, 2018

1. (8) John H. Nemechek(i), Chevrolet, 250.

2. (4) Kyle Benjamin(i), Toyota, 250.

3. (7) Brett Moffitt, Toyota, 250.

4. (3) Grant Enfinger, Ford, 250.

5. (11) Noah Gragson, Toyota, 250.

6. (9) Myatt Snider #, Ford, 250.

7. (16) Timothy Peters, Ford, 250.

8. (13) Harrison Burton, Toyota, 250.

9. (15) Austin Hill, Chevrolet, 250.

10. (12) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 250.

11. (18) Dalton Sargeant #, Chevrolet, 250.

12. (1) Ben Rhodes, Ford, 250.

13. (17) Cory Roper, Ford, 250.

14. (23) Todd Gilliland #, Toyota, 250.

15. (2) Matt Crafton, Ford, 250.

16. (20) Reid Wilson, Chevrolet, 250.

17. (28) Dawson Cram, Chevrolet, 250.

18. (29) Wendell Chavous, Chevrolet, 250.

19. (6) Johnny Sauter, Chevrolet, 249.

20. (5) Stewart Friesen, Chevrolet, 248.

21. (14) Tyler Matthews, Chevrolet, 248.

22. (25) Jordan Anderson, Chevrolet, 248.

23. (22) Kyle Donahue, Chevrolet, Electrical, 234.

24. (24) Robby Lyons, Chevrolet, Engine, 227.

25. (26) Josh Reaume, Chevrolet, 227.

26. (10) Cody Coughlin, Chevrolet, 225.

27. (21) Austin Wayne Self, Chevrolet, Electrical, 164.

28. (19) Justin Fontaine #, Chevrolet, Accident, 158.

29. (31) Jennifer Jo Cobb, Chevrolet, Electrical, 55.

30. (27) Kevin Donahue, Chevrolet, Brakes, 49.

31. (30) Norm Benning, Chevrolet, Too Slow, 35.

32. (32) Mike Senica, Chevrolet, Parked, 8.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  64.628 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 02 Mins, 05 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.106 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  10 for 68 laps.

Lead Changes:  10 among 6 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   B. Rhodes 1-25; M. Crafton 26-29; B. Rhodes 30-76; S. Friesen 77-81; B. Rhodes 82; S. Friesen 83; B. Rhodes 84-92; T. Gilliland # 93; B. Rhodes 94-145; K. Benjamin(i) 146-219; J. Nemechek(i) 220-250.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  B. Rhodes 5 times for 134 laps; K. Benjamin(i) 1 time for 74 laps; J. Nemechek(i) 1 time for 31 laps; S. Friesen 2 times for 6 laps; M. Crafton 1 time for 4 laps; T. Gilliland # 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 41,88,98,21,54,8,52,18,16,13

Stage #2 Top Ten: 41,4,21,88,8,16,18,98,13,51

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.