The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series had an eventful weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. John Hunter Nemechek and his whole Chevrolet team persevered, bringing home their first win in the series.
On Friday it was expected that it may rain out qualifying so the first and only practice took on an even more significance as it may end up setting the starting positions for the race. Nemechek driving the Number 8 Chevrolet was only the eleventh fastest. When rain did in fact end qualifying, he started eleventh. The race was originally scheduled to run on Friday night but the race was canceled by a torrential downpour.
When the race was finally run on Saturday morning, Nemechek hung around the top ten the entire day getting as high as fourth. It didn’t look like he would be a factor to challenge Kyle Larson or Johnny Sauter, who collectively lead 101 laps of 150, for the lead.
There was a long caution flag from lap 83 to 95 after Mason Mingus got into the wet grass, went airborne and littered the track and pit road with debris. Just before the field went to green, Gere Kennon, the Crew Chief, called Nemechek to pit road to top off with fuel. Many of the other leaders did the same except while they were racing; he was saving fuel like he was told to by his Crew Chief.
With 22 laps to go the strategy that Gere Kennon had for John Hunter Nemechek started to play out. The No. 8 was in the seventh position, then each and every driver ahead of him pulled to pit road to put in fuel until finally on the second to last lap Kyle Larson ran out of fuel. Nemechek led only the most important lap of the race, the last one, to win his first race of his career.
“Yea it’s definitely an amazing feeling. I was a little bit frustrated with our Crew Chief Gere Kennon on that last stop he told me to pit. We had to fix the left side Romeo window.” Nemechek added, “I really didn’t want to go to the back because track position was key and everything but we got to top off there coming to one to go. He kept telling me to save fuel, save fuel that last run and that’s what we ended up doing. I ran out coming out of turn four so that was definitely great strategy that he had worked out in his mind I should know never to doubt him.”
It is hard to believe that John Hunter Nemechek, who is 18 years, 3 months and 8 days old is not the youngest winner ever. He is the fourth youngest winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series History. Cole Custer, Erik Jones and Chase Elliott were younger when they won.
Erik Jones leads the point standings by ten points over Tyler Reddick. Matt Crafton is third one point behind Reddick. John Hunter Nemechek was the highest finishing rookie.
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