Nemechek fends off Benjamin in thrilling Martinsville Truck finish

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Nemechek fends off Benjamin in thrilling Martinsville Truck finish
Jim Utter
By: Jim Utter
Mar 26, 2018, 5:06 PM

Old tires were good enough as John Hunter Nemechek held on to win Monday’s snow-delayed NASCAR Truck race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

John Hunter Nemechek, NEMCO Motorsports, Chevrolet Silverado celebrates
John Hunter Nemechek, NEMCO Motorsports, Chevrolet Silverado celebrates
Brett Moffitt, Hattori Racing Enterprises, Toyota Tundra AISIN Group, John Hunter Nemechek, NEMCO Motorsports, Chevrolet Silverado
Ben Rhodes, ThorSport Racing, Ford F-150, Matt Crafton, ThorSport Racing, Ford F-150 Ideal Door/Menards, Kyle Benjamin, DGR-Crosley, Toyota Tundra Crosley Brands/Tropicana
Kyle Benjamin, DGR-Crosley, Toyota Tundra Crosley Brands/Tropicana
Camping World Truck Series trucks parked on pit road during a red flag for rain
Ben Rhodes, ThorSport Racing, Ford F-150 Matt Crafton, ThorSport Racing, Ford F-150 Ideal Door/Menards Grant Enfinger, ThorSport Racing, Ford F-150 Champion Power Equipment/Curb Records Kyle Benjamin, DGR-Crosley, Toyota Tundra Crosley Brands/Tropicana
Noah Gragson, Kyle Busch Motorsports, Toyota Tundra Safelite, Cody Coughlin, GMS Racing, Chevrolet Silverado Jeg's.com crews cover the trucks during a rain delay

Nemechek was one of six drivers to stay out during a caution on Lap 216 of 250 and managed to hold off Kyle Benjamin to win Monday’s rain-delayed Alpha Energy Solutions 250, his first series win of the season.

Nemechek actually stayed out by accident as he didn’t hear his crew chief’s order to pit. So, remained on the track and hoped for the best.

Brett Moffitt, the first truck on new tires, finished third, Grant Enfinger was fourth and Noah Gragson completed the top-five.

“Tick, tock we finally got a clock,” Nemechek, 21, said from Victory Lane.

The win was his first at Martinsville and sixth of his career.

“We just had to stay out there and I didn’t know if we were going to be able to do it,” Nemechek said. “I can think everyone enough that pours their heart and soul into this deal. There are only four guys at our shop this year.

“It’s very cool to be able to come back over here to the Truck series. These guys deserve it. We finished second here multiple times. It’s going to be awesome to take that thing home.”

Benjamin, making his first series start, was able to get alongside Nemechek on the final lap but couldn’t complete the pass for the lead.

“It was pretty close right there. We had a pretty good truck on long runs and unfortunately it came down to a short run,” Benjamin said. “It’s Martinsville so I figured I needed to give him a run for his money coming off (4) there on the last lap.

“We had a great day and had a fast truck.”

Stage 2

After being briefly tested by Todd Gilliland, pole-winner Ben Rhodes again dominated on his way to the Stage 2 victory.

Gilliland ended up second, Johnny Sauter third, Matt Crafton fourth and Nemechek completed the top-five.

During the break between Stages 1 and 2, Stewart Friesen used a two-tire pit stop to exit pit road first and take the lead on the restart when Stage 2 went green. He was followed by Rhodes, Crafton, Sauter and Nemechek.

Following a three-wide battle for the lead, Rhodes re-established himself as the race leader and caution was displayed on Lap 87 after Friesen, Harrison Burton and Sauter were involved a wreck in Turns 1 and 2.

Gilliland appeared to nudge Sauter into Friesen to start that incident.

On the restart on Lap 93, Rhodes led the way followed by Gilliland and Sauter.

Friesen received a two-lap penalty for having too many men over the wall while he was operating under the damaged vehicle policy.

On Lap 118, Friesen got into Tyler Matthews to bring out another caution. On the restart on Lap 123, Rhodes led the way followed by Gilliland and Crafton.

Stage 1

Rhodes picked up where he left off when Monday’s rain-delayed race restarted and dominated on his way to the Stage 1 victory, his first of the season.

“We have some really good speed through the center of the corner,” Rhodes said during the break. “We made some adjustments that I think will make it even better.”

Crafton finished second, Enfinger was third, Sauter fourth and Benjamin completed the top-five.

The start of Stage 1 actually began on Saturday afternoon but the race was halted on Lap 24 once a winter storm moved into the area around Martinsville.

Rhodes, the pole-winner, held a steady advantage from the start of the race.

Mike Senica, who had just been black-flagged by NASCAR for disobeying a request to report to the garage, spun on Lap 17 in Stage 1 to bring out the first caution.

Before the race could restart, NASCAR brought the trucks down pit road as snow and rain began covering the track with moisture.

Gilliland, who started the race from the rear of the field due to an engine change, had already advanced to 18th by the time of the red flag.

The returned to green on Lap 27 on Monday morning with Rhodes with the lead but Crafton quickly made his way around him and into the top spot. Rhodes retook the lead three laps later and quickly moved out to a sizeable lead.

Norm Benning was parked after 35 laps for failure to maintain minimum speed in the race.

Cla#DriverManufacturerLapsTimeLaps Led
1 8 united_states John Hunter Nemechek  Chevrolet 250   31
2 54 united_states Kyle Benjamin  Toyota 250 0.106 74
3 16 united_states Brett Moffitt  Toyota 250 0.695  
4 98 united_states Grant Enfinger  Ford 250 1.355  
5 18 united_states Noah Gragson  Toyota 250 1.776  
6 13 united_states Myatt Snider  Ford 250 2.430  
7 92 united_states Timothy Peters  Ford 250 3.338  
8 51 united_states Harrison Burton  Toyota 250 3.674  
9 02 united_states Austin Hill  Chevrolet 250 4.056  
10 24 united_states Justin Haley  Chevrolet 250 4.570  
11 25 united_states Dalton Sargeant  Chevrolet 250 4.770  
12 41 united_states Ben Rhodes  Ford 250 4.856 134
13 04 Cory Roper  Ford 250 5.303  
14 4 united_states Todd Gilliland  Toyota 250 5.374 1
15 88 united_states Matt Crafton  Ford 250 5.521 4
16 20 Reid Wilson  Chevrolet 250 8.491  
17 50 Dawson Cram  Chevrolet 250 9.151  
18 49 united_states Wendell Chavous  Chevrolet 250 9.853  
19 21 united_states Johnny Sauter  Chevrolet 249 1 lap  
20 52 united_states Stewart Friesen  Chevrolet 248 2 laps 6
21 99 Tyler Matthews  Chevrolet 248 2 laps  
22 3 united_states Jordan Anderson  Chevrolet 248 2 laps  
23 83 united_states Kyle Donahue  Chevrolet 234 16 laps  
24 15 Robby Lyons  Chevrolet 227 23 laps  
25 33 united_states Josh Reaume  Chevrolet 227 23 laps  
26 2 united_states Cody Coughlin  Chevrolet 225 25 laps  
27 22 united_states Austin Wayne Self  Chevrolet 164 86 laps  
28 45 united_states Justin Fontaine  Chevrolet 158 92 laps  
29 10 united_states Jennifer Jo Cobb  Chevrolet 55 195 laps  
30 63 united_states Kevin Donahue  Chevrolet 49 201 laps  
31 6 united_states Norm Benning  Chevrolet 35 215 laps  
32 1 united_states Mike Senica  Chevrolet 8 242 laps  

 

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