John Hunter Nemechek gets first Truck win of year with Gateway victory

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John Hunter Nemechek led the final six laps following a restart with eight to go to win the Camping World Truck Series’ race at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Nemechek passed Matt Crafton in Turn 2 and went unchallenged to claim his fourth Truck Series win and his first of the year.

NEMCO Motorsports is the first non-Kyle Busch Motorsports or GMS Racing team to win this year.

The win comes after Nemechek entered the race with no laps led despite two top-five finishes. Outside those two races, Nemechek had finished 21st or worse in every other race.

“It’s definitely an emotional win,” a tearful Nemechek told Fox Sports 1. “All the hard work that goes in, everyone’s worked their tails off. We haven’t had the best luck this year. Getting into victory lane when we needed to, God is great, I can’t thank him enough. I knew all the hard work would pay off. This is an awesome Father’s Day present for dad here and team owner (Joe Nemechek).”

Nemechek later said, “Not knowing how many more races we’re going to get to this year, this definitely means a lot.”

Joe Nemechek said only half the team’s races for this season had sponsorship and that there was doubt whether the No. 8 Chevrolet would be able to go to the next race at Iowa Speedway.

“I hate to see John Hunter go through that, he has so much talent,” Joe Nemechek told FS1. “He’s going to be a Cup champion one of these days. Right now, we’re just trying to get to the next race. He is tough. As far as driving the racecar is one thing, but when you deal with all the financial part of it just to figure out how to keep going, that makes it hard on a young kid. … That was his will tonight. We got the truck close, but he was on it.”

Chase Briscoe, who led a race high 88 laps,  finished second for the second week in a row. The rookie was one of two drivers who pit during the final caution for tires, leading to a frantic charge through the field.

The top five was completed by Chase Briscoe, Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton and Grant Enfinger.

Stage 1 winner: John Hunter Nemechek

Stage 2 winner: Chase Briscoe

MORE: Race results

MORE: Points standings

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Christopher Bell was in second on the last lap, but contact with Briscoe cut his left rear tire and sent him to sixth. … Matt Crafton earned just his second top five of the year …. Ryan Truex finished seventh for his sixth top 10 in a row … Grant Enfinger earned his third top five of the year.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: The 11 trucks that failed to finish due to some sort of mechanical failure … Todd Gilliland earned his second DNF in as many starts after a transmission problem on Lap 114 … Jennifer Jo Cobb failed to start after the team discovered a hole in her radiator on the starting grid and was unable to make repairs. … Josh Reaume brought out the only caution outside of the stage endings. His No. 50 truck stalled on pit road with 12 laps to go.

NOTABLE: The No. 02 of Austin Hill failed front heights in post-race inspection. Any penalties will be announced later in the week.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “Those guys just took two tires and I was on no tires and we had a lot of laps on them right side tires and we were just done. You win some, you lose some and everybody is upset but at the same time they knew we were here tonight.” – Matt Crafton after finishing fourth.

WHAT’S NEXT:  The Iowa 200 at Iowa Speedway at 8:30 p.m. ET on June 23 on Fox Sports 1.

Check out Southern 500 paint schemes for Erik Jones, David Ragan and Landon Cassill

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Monday saw the reveal of three paint schemes for the Sept. 3 Southern 500 (on NBCSN). Here’s a look at the cars for Furniture Row Racing’s Erik Jones and Front Row Motorsports’ David Ragan and Landon Cassill.

Jones, who is in contention for the Rookie of the Year award in the Cup Series, will honor previous winners of the award with his paint scheme. Specifically, the No. 77 Toyota will pay tribute to the Rookie of the Year recipients from 1984-89.

The scheme will feature pictures of Rusty Wallace (1984), Ken Schrader (1985), Alan Kulwicki (1986), Davey Allision (1987), Ken Bouchard (1988) and Dick Trickle (1989).

Ragan’s No. 38 Ford will be sponsored by Good Sam. Ragan’s paint scheme is an ode to the RV company’s early days. It was founded in 1966.

Cassill’s paint scheme probably looks familiar. It’s the same one the team used for the last Southern 500 when Chris Buescher drove the N0. 34. The team had to call an audible after Michael McDowell and Leavine Family Racing beat them to the punch on a Kulwicki tribute scheme. Fortunately, Cassill was cool with it.

MORE: Retro Rundown of 2017 Southern 500 paint schemes.

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Bump & Run: Taking stock of the NASCAR season

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What has surprised you the most about this season?

Jeff Burton: My biggest surprise is that there really hasn’t been a flaw in the new stage racing format. I believed that something would happen that revealed a flaw that no one had anticipated but we have yet to see it.

Nate Ryan: Martin Truex Jr.’s emergence as the championship favorite. It was expected he would run well and be a playoff contender and winner, but Furniture Row Racing regularly outrunning Joe Gibbs Racing as the best-in-class Toyota team has been a surprise – as has Truex’s runaway lead in the playoff points standings. He and crew chief Cole Pearn have become the crew chief-driver combination that is setting the pace in every way possible, whether it’s lap speeds, setup decisions or strategy calls.

Dustin Long: That there have been 14 different Cup winners (13 eligible for the playoffs) at this point in the season, which is already the most number of winners in an entire Cup season since 2013.

What driver has impressed you the most this season?

Jeff Burton: Martin Truex Jr. Speed and consistency is hard to achieve. He has been the guy that seems to be in the battle every single week. 

Nate Ryan: William Byron. His promotion to the Cup Series is well deserved, because he has proven the past two years to be an absolute prodigy with his acclimation to Xfinity and trucks. It makes one wonder if he already would have been a Cup winner if he had started his racing career in earnest before becoming a teenager.

Dustin Long: I’m amazed what William Byron has done for his relative lack of experience compared to drivers who started before they hit first grade. His ability to handle pressure situations has been noteworthy. While the challenges will increase next year, I’m already interested to see how he will do in Cup.

What storyline most intrigues you for the coming weeks?

Jeff Burton: I’m intrigued about the playoffs. There will be a big time driver and team that doesn’t advance into the playoffs. Watching who can take control and who can’t step up will be very interesting to witness.

Nate Ryan: The impact of playoff points on the championship race and how it affects who advances in each round. The suspicion here is that there will be much second-guessing and re-examination of decisions made during the regular season that had unanticipated repercussions months later.

Dustin Long: I’m intrigued to see if Kyle Busch and his team can finally eliminate the mistakes that have plagued them throughout the season and prevented Busch from possibly an epic season. With two wins in the last four races, he’s on the verge of a breakout that will lead to a dominating title run. Will it happen?

SunnyD extends sponsorship deal with Roush Fenway Racing

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SunnyD has extended its contract with Roush Fenway Racing to sponsor Ricky Stenhouse Jr.‘s team through the 2019 season, the organization announced Tuesday.

SunnyD will add races as primary sponsor each season, although how many was not announced.

The company has been the primary sponsor of Stenhouse’s car in three races this season – Atlanta, spring Bristol and Indianapolis. SunnyD will next sponsor Stenhouse in October at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“We’ve had a great time partnering with SunnyD the last two years,” Stenhouse in a statement from the team. “It’s one of the coolest paint schemes on the track, and we’ve had a lot of fun promoting their classic brand. I’m excited that we have extended our relationship, and I can’t wait to see how much fun we can have with SunnyD in victory lane.”

“We are very excited to announce that we tore up the old contract and signed a new one that extends for another season and adds additional races with Ricky and Roush Fenway,” said Henk Hartong, Chairman of Harvest Hill Beverage Company, owners of the SunnyD brand, in a statement. “I’m very proud of our relationship with Jack Roush, Steve Newmark and the entire Roush Fenway team. It is something that we wanted to lock in for the foreseeable future. Ricky is one of the rising young stars in NASCAR and we have seen great response to the program from the passionate NASCAR fans.  We are pleased to bolster our association with him and Roush Fenway.”

Stenhouse has two wins this year and will be in next month’s playoffs.

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Martin Truex Jr. continues to dominate NASCAR Cup playoff grid

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Martin Truex Jr. continues to dominate the weekly NASCAR Cup playoff standings.

Truex did not gain any extra points during Saturday night’s Bristol Night Race, so he remains with 35 points, but that’s still a large spread over those chasing him.

Bristol winner Kyle Busch jumped from fifth to second place in the standings with 20 playoff points.

Kyle Larson fell back to third place (18 points), Jimmie Johnson fell to fourth (16) and Brad Keselowski is fifth (14).

As for the playoff bubble, Chase Elliott is 69 points ahead of the cut-off line, followed by Matt Kenseth (+61) and Jamie McMurray (+58) with two races left until the playoffs.

Outside the playoff cut line is Clint Bowyer, who dropped from 31 to 58 points down and Joey Logano from -98 to -117. Erik Jones climbed from -130 to -127, and Daniel Suarez dropped from -139 to -163.

 

Here’s this week’s playoff standings grid: