When the two best Trucks were eliminated in consecutive crashes, John Hunter Nemchek inherited the lead with eight laps left and stayed out front on a green-white-checkered finish to earn his second career Camping World Truck Series win.
Nemechek’s win in the Great Clips 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, in his first start at the track, qualifies him for the Truck series’ Chase format playoff.
“I was debating on the radio whether I wanted the outside or inside lines, I had restarted on the outside twice there,” Nemechek told Fox Sports 1. “I don’t know what it is about this place, but it’s really slick on the top.”
Nemechek, running his first full season in the Truck series, took the lead when Christopher Bell lost a right-front tire and slammed into the Turn 4 wall on with eight laps left.
Nemechek started 18th and didn’t see the front until Bell’s accident. Bell had led 42 laps and Matt Crafton led 76. But both were eliminated in wrecks with less than 20 laps left.
Both of Nemechek’s two Truck wins have come with the No. 8 not having primary sponsorship on its body.
“The pit crew won us this race, I can thank all those guys enough. They gained us I want to say it was over 13 spots on pit road,” Nemechek said. “We’ve put a lot of hard work in with just a little bit of funding and we come out and win like this and contend for wins.”
The 18-year-old driver said he met with Sprint Cup driver Kevin Harvick for almost an hour Friday night to learn about how to navigate the track.
His father and team owner Joe Nemechek was shown fist pumping as his son exited Turn 4 for the last time.
“John Hunter drives his butt off, ” the elder Nemechek told Fox Sports 1. “I was trying tell him to slow down because he was burning the tires up off of it.
HOW John Hunter Nemechek WON: The No. 8 truck avoided a hard crash between leader Matt Crafton and Daniel Suarez with less than 20 laps to go and took the lead and led the final eight laps when Christopher Bell bew a tire and hit the wall
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Cameron Hayley finished second for his fifth top-five finish and his best finish in 28 races … Grant Enfinger earned his first top-five finish in his eight career Truck race with his fifth-place finish … Daniel Hemric earned his fifth top-five finish after placing fourth.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Christopher Bell lost a right-front tire around Lap 27 while leading. Bell pitted and lost a lap before returning to the top five around Lap 50. Bell took the lead from Crafton with less than 40 laps remaining. He led 42 laps total but after taking the lead for the last time on Lap 116, Bell slammed into the wall with eight laps left and finished 26th … Daytona winner Johnny Sauter started from the rear of the field after suffering power issues during the pace laps. The problem returned during the Lap 43 restart as Sauter limped around the track for a couple of laps before going to the garage. Sauter finished … The caution waived for a second time on Lap 59 when William Byron, running in second, blew his engine. Byron finished last in 32nd … Crafton and Daniel Suarez were involved in a hard crash coming down the backstretch during a restart with 20 laps left. The defending race winner, Crafton had led 76 laps before Christopher Bell turned his teammate Suarez into Crafton.
NOTABLE: The first use of the Truck Series “Caution Clock” came on Lap 38 and was the first caution of the race. The race experienced three cautions with two as a result of the caution clock.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I still consider our team an underdog team and it is so gratifying to get a win,” – Joe Nemechek after his son John Hunter Nemechek won his second Truck race in a unsponsored entry.
NEXT: Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville Speedway on April 2