NEWTON, Iowa – John Hunter Nemechek made the most of a late-race restart and four fresh tires to score his second-straight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory on Friday night at Iowa Speedway.
Coming off an emotional victory last Saturday night at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill., Nemechek entered Friday’s M&M’s 200 at Iowa Speedway riding a wave of momentum. It was a wave that would carry him to victory lane yet again thanks to a gusty late-race pit call.
It looked like the race for the victory was going to come down to a battle between reigning series champion Johnny Sauter and rookie Chase Briscoe. Sauter, who pitted during a caution period just prior to the end of the second stage and inherited the stage victory and the lead for the start of the third stage with 68 laps left, had pulled out to more than a two-second lead.
Briscoe, who restarted second, began to chop into that lead with about 25 laps left by moving to the top side of the track. It was a move that paid dividends quickly as Briscoe quickly tracked down Sauter from more than two seconds back.
With 18 laps left Briscoe used the outside to rocket by Sauter to take the race lead out of turn four. He quickly built a big gap, but contact between ThorSport Racing teammates Matt Crafton and Grant Enfinger sent Crafton into the turn three wall to bring out the caution flag with 15 laps left.
Teams were left with a tough decision, pit for fresh tires under caution and give up track position or stay out and risk getting beat by fresh tires. Most teams opted to come down pit road for new tires but Sauter’s crew chief Junior Joiner left him on track, giving Sauter the race lead.
On pit road, Briscoe took two tires and was off pit road first. Nemechek was the first driver off pit road who took four tires and lined up fourth for the restart.
The race resumed with seven laps left and the battle was on for the lead immediately as Sauter used the high side to try and fend off Briscoe on the bottom. Nemechek used his outside starting position to jump to third and fell in right behind the lead duo.
Nemechek saw his opening coming out of turn four. As Briscoe and Sauter battled, Nemechek dove to the inside to make it a three-wide battle for the lead. Nemechek drove deep into turn one and his No. 8 Chevrolet stuck, allowing him to launch off turn two and into the race lead.
Once out front Nemechek hit the afterburner, pulling away from the battle for second to score his second-straight victory for NEMCO Motorsports.
“All year we felt really good about this whole stretch, Gateway, Iowa and Kentucky. So hopefully we can go to Kentucky and make it three in a row,” said Nemechek, who picked up a three-race sponsorship from Fire Alarm Services after his victory at Gateway last weekend. “I can’t say enough. Thank you to all my guys. They’re so determined and dedicated. They work as many hours as needed. This is fun getting to victory lane.”
Sauter ended up hanging on to second in the closing laps. He credited Briscoe for showing him the top lane was a viable option late in the race.
“I’ve got to thank Chase Briscoe for taking me to school,” Sauter admitted. “I kept asking my spotter, ‘Where is he running? Where is he running?’ and on the radio it sounded like he said bottom. I guess that’s what we have mirrors for.
“So I moved up to the top there and found some pretty good grip. Our lap times picked up quite a bid,” Sauter said. “Obviously with tires you’re kind of a sitting duck there at the end and I think the 8 truck (Nemechek) took four.”
Brandon Jones gave MDM Motorsports a third-place finish, while Enfinger avoided a last-lap crash involving Justin Haley and Harrison Burton to finish fourth.
Christopher Bell had the dominant truck during the first half of the race. He won the first stage and led a race-high 99 laps, but a decision to not to pit during a caution late in the second stage ended up biting him. Bell got overhauled during the ensuing restart and ended up starting the final stage from the rear of the lead lap. He recovered to finish fifth.
For complete results, advance to the next page.