LAS VEGAS – John Hunter Nemechek knew when he returned to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to drive for Kyle Busch Motorsports he would be expected to win.
On Friday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Nemechek did just that and he beat his boss, Kyle Busch, to do it.
Nemechek dominated the Bucked Up 250 on Friday night for his seventh Truck Series victory, his first with the Kyle Busch Motorsports team. It was vindication for Nemechek, who departed the NASCAR Cup Series after his rookie season to return to the Truck Series because he wanted to win races again.
“Coming back to the Truck Series, that was the plan, that was the goal (to win races). We came into this year with the hashtag #HereForWins, so we’re here for wins,” Nemechek said. “Overall it’s an awesome victory.”
Nemechek may have led the most laps, but he wasn’t on cruise control as he had to fend off Busch throughout the race. Busch started 29th in the 40-truck field but raced his way to the front and took the lead for the first time on lap 48 when he drove by Nemechek.
However, Busch found himself playing catchup with 46 laps left when the left-rear tire on his No. 51 Toyota Tundra went flat and he spun to bring out the caution flag in turn two. Busch went a lap down, but was able to get back on the lead lap when the caution waved again for a multi-truck crash with 38 laps left.
Busch restarted 25th with 31 laps left and quickly went to work slicing his way through the field while Nemechek led the race. When the caution flag waved again with 20 laps left, Busch had worked his way up to ninth while Nemechek was the race leader.
The ensuing restart saw Busch quickly work his way up to third, but another caution for two trucks crashing down the backstretch set up one final restart with Nemechek leading Austin Hill and Busch.
Using the choose rule, Busch opted to line up behind Nemechek for the restart and gave him a big push to help him clear Hill before the field got to turn one. Busch moved into second as a result, but despite his best efforts he had nothing for Nemechek who held on to earn his first victory of the season.
“All of my guys, everyone at KBM, they gave us one heck of a truck tonight,” Nemechek said. “Kyle’s truck was really fast as well, luckily we were able to execute on that restart there at the end and put ourselves in position to be leading and win this thing.”
Busch, making the first of his five Truck Series starts this year, said it was gratifying to see the performance the Kyle Busch Motorsports team put together on Friday evening after the organization swept the top-two spots.
“It’s perfect, it’s all you can ask for, it’s everything,” Busch said. “It’s cool to see the 4 truck in victory lane. It’s cool to see John Hunter have a shot to get back in victory lane and having Erik Phillips (Nemechek’s crew chief) back and all the guys that have come on board this year and doing all the stuff that we’re accustom to doing and getting back to running up front.
“That 4 truck was fast. Even on the short runs I couldn’t run with him, but after about eight or 10 (laps) I felt like I had a better shot of running with him. We just didn’t have laps there at the end.”
Hill finished third Friday evening, followed by Stewart Friesen and three-time series champion Matt Crafton.
Of note, there were 10 trucks in the race sponsored by series entitlement partner Camping World after a social media blitz by Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis in the days leading up to the race.
Two of those trucks – the No. 9 of Grant Enfinger and the No. 75 of Parker Kligerman – finished inside the top-10. Enfinger finished seventh, with Kligerman coming across the finish line in eighth.
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