NASCAR declares DiBenedetto winner in chaotic Truck finish

Matt DiBenedetto survived a wild last-lap crash and a NASCAR review but ultimately was declared the winner of Saturday’s Truck Series race at Talladega.

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A late caution intentionally brought out by Carson Hocevar – and for which he was penalized – sent the race into a two-lap overtime with Christian Eckes out front and DiBenedetto in third.

On the final lap as the field came off Turn 4 and into the tri-oval, Corey Heim slammed the outside wall and cut back down the track, which triggered a massive wreck.

NASCAR immediately called for a caution just as DiBenedetto, Ben Rhodes and Bret Holmes were battling for the lead.

While Holmes crossed the finish line first, the field is frozen when a caution is displayed. NASCAR conducted a review and declared DiBenedetto was ahead at the time of the caution and he was the winner.

It’s the first-ever NASCAR national series win for DiBenedetto, who has made a combined 338 starts in Cup, Xfinity and Trucks. It’s also the first win for the Rackley WAR team.

 

“Oh man, it’s been such a long time coming. Praise God,” DiBenedetto said. “My fans are so thankful. They have stayed with me through so much with me being a reckless human being sometimes through life.

“I’m so thankful to do this. I’m so grateful. I got worn out from having to wait to hear what happened.

“My spotter Doug Campbell is awesome. We work together so good. I owe a lot to him. At the end there, we were just really committed to staying on the bottom (lane) and pushing. This team deserves it.”

Rhodes ended up credited with second-place, Holmes was third, Ryan Preece fourth and Eckes rounded out the top-five.

Stage 3

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, several trucks pit and Chase Purdy remained on the track and in the lead when the race returned to green on Lap 46.

Holmes quickly powered to the lead on the restart.

At the halfway point on Lap 50, Eckes moved into the lead for the first time in the race as Purdy still remained in the hunt. Purdy grabbed the lead back on Lap 51.

Holmes powered back to the front on Lap 53. Eckes returned to the lead on Lap 55.

With a shove from DiBenedetto, Hocevar took the lead on Lap 57 only to see Eckes reclaim it on Lap 58.

On Lap 61, John Hunter Nemechek was the first to hit pit road for a final round of green-flag pit stops to take on new tires and fuel to make it to the finish.

A large group of drivers pit the following lap but during the stops, a tire got loose from Hailie Deegan after she appeared to tag one of her pit crew members.

The tire went bouncing out to the infield grass and a crew member went out after it, which forced NASCAR to throw a caution.

 

The crew member who ran out onto pit road and the track was immediately ejected from the track.

During the stops, Stewart Friesen and Johnny Sauter were penalized for speeding and Deegan was penalized for an uncontrolled tire, which put all three to the rear of the field on the restart.

The race resumed on Lap 69 with Eckes out front. Hocevar returned to the lead on Lap 71.

Colby Howard spun off Turn 4 on Lap 73 to bring out the sixth caution of the race. Zane Smith was among those who pit under the caution.

On the restart on Lap 77, Hocevar was followed by Eckes, Preece and Rhodes.

A multi-truck accident erupted in Turn 3 after Grant Enfinger cut a tire, got loose and fell off the pace which triggered a chain reaction incident that collected Sauter, Tanner Gray and Austin Wayne Self.

The race resumed on Lap 85 with Hocevar leading Eckes, Preece and Rhodes. Eckes quickly moved back into the lead after the restart.

With five laps to go, Hocevar fell off pace and then came to a stop on the track, which forced NASCAR to display a caution. After it came out, Hocevar drove off.

NASCAR almost immediately assessed a 1-lap penalty to Hocevar for intentionally bringing out a caution.

The caution sent the race to a two-lap overtime with Eckes out front followed by Rhodes and DiBenedetto.

Stage 2

Chandler Smith held off Nemechek in a two-lap dash to win Stage 2.

Friesen was third, Rhodes fourth and Enfinger rounded out the top-five.

Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, most of the trucks pit with Chandler Smith first off pit road.

On the restart on Lap 27, Chandler Smith was followed by Nemechek and Friesen.

Shortly after the restart, Howard spun and lost a tire carcass on the track to bring out another caution. The race resumed on Lap 32 with Chandler Smith still out front.

On Lap 33, Lawless Alan appeared to blow a right-front tire and slammed into the wall to place the race back under caution. Bryan Dauzat also picked up damage during the incident.

The race returned to green on Lap 39 with Chandler Smith followed by Rhodes, Nemechek and Eckes.

Stage 1

Nemechek claimed the Stage 1 win under caution following a dramatic blown engine from Jordan Anderson’s truck with one lap remaining.

Zane Smith was second, Hocevar third, Chandler Smith was fourth and Howard fifth.

Nemechek started on the pole, briefly gave it up to Zane Smith and Ty Majeski, but got it back on Lap 5.

With 10 laps remaining in the first stage, Nemechek held a small advantage over Zane Smith with Chandler Smith close behind and challenging for the second spot.

Chandler Smith finally moved into second with nine laps remaining.

On Lap 19, it appeared the engine in Jordan Anderson’s No. 3 truck appeared to blow and flames almost immediately engulfed nearly the entire truck.

 

Anderson was able to exit his truck but placed on a stretcher and transported to the infield media center for evaluation. He was eventually airlifted to a Birmingham, Ala., hospital for treatment for burns.

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