Martin Truex Jr. wins Bristol Truck dirt race

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Martin Truex Jr. is now part of a prestigious club after winning Monday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Truex Jr., the 2017 Cup Series champion and two-time Xfinity Series champion, becomes the 36th driver to win a race in each of NASCAR’s three national series.

MORE: Bristol Truck dirt results

Originally scheduled for Saturday night, the Truck race was twice postponed over the weekend due to inclement weather.

Driving the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra, Truex Jr. swept both stages and led a race-high 105 laps.

“I guess they had to put Bristol on dirt to get me back to Victory Lane here,” Truex told Fox Sports in an echo of previous comments leading into the weekend. “It’s been a long time. That was a blast. I’m still really surprised.

“… I kept thinking, ‘What’s gonna happen next? Am I gonna get a flat tire or something stupid?’ This 51 is pretty much used to being in Victory Lane. There’s a lot of pressure there, but I’m glad we could get it done.”

Ben Rhodes, Raphael Lessard, Todd Gilliland and another Cup regular, Chase Briscoe, completed the top five finishers.

Rhodes had one more opportunity to challenge Truex for the win, but missed a shift on the final restart with 12 laps to go.

“We were running him back down there the last few laps, but, yeah, just (had) the worst restart of my life,” Rhodes told Fox Sports.

Truex and Briscoe were among six Cup regulars that ran the Truck race ahead of their own 250-lap race on Monday afternoon (4 p.m. ET, Fox).

Another of them, Kyle Larson, is the pre-race favorite for the Cup event. But he was among those impacted by the Truck race’s 12 cautions.

On Lap 99, Larson ran into the slowing truck of Mike Marlar high in Turn 3, spun down the track, and was then hit by an oncoming Danny Bohn. Larson and Bohn were both checked and released from the infield care center.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Martin Truex Jr.

STAGE 2 WINNER: Martin Truex Jr.

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Raphael Lessard scored his first top five run of the year with a third-place finish. He had finished 23rd or worse in the season’s first four races … NASCAR on NBC analyst Parker Kligerman scored a top-10 finish, coming home eighth for Henderson Motorsports.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: John Hunter Nemechek‘s season-opening streak of top-10 finishes ended with a crash at Lap 49. A bump from behind by Matt Crafton sent Nemechek spinning in Turn 1. Seconds after Nemechek came to rest near the wall, Derek Kraus slid into him. Both Nemechek and Kraus were eliminated.

NOTABLE: Monday’s race was only Truex’s third career Truck start. He made one start in both 2005 and 2006.

NEXT: The Trucks return Saturday, April 17 at Richmond Raceway (1:30 p.m. ET, FS1). Grant Enfinger won there last September.

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.

 

Could Talladega open door for a record 20th winner?

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Talladega Superspeedway is known for fast speeds, huge drafting packs, sensational wrecks and tight finishes.

On Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC), it could be the site of an unexpected record.

Nineteen different drivers have won Cup races this season, tying a record. If a new winner shows up in Talladega victory lane Sunday, it will mark the first time in the sport’s history that 20 drivers have won races in a single season.

One of the remarkable things about that possibility is that the driver who has far and away the best record at Talladega among active drivers is among the group still looking for a win in 2022. That’s Brad Keselowski, who has won six times at NASCAR’s biggest track. No other active driver has more than three. (Keselowski is tied for second on the all-time Talladega win list with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt tops that list with 10).

Talladega and Daytona tend to reject repeat winners. The past nine races at the two tracks have been won by nine different drivers.

Other seasonal non-winners who could break through at Talladega:

Ryan BlaneyBlaney’s only win this year is in the All-Star Race, so he’s still looking for his first points win while continuing to chase the championship. He won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.

Martin Truex Jr. — Superspeedways have been a pox on Truex’s career. In 70 races at Talladega and Daytona, he has failed to win.

Aric Almirola — In what has been a disappointing season, Almirola’s best finish is a fifth — twice. He won at Talladega in 2018 but hasn’t had a top 10 in his last four runs there.

Michael McDowell — McDowell’s best finish at Talladega is a third, but he is usually very competitive in the Talladega and Daytona drafts, winning the 2021 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Stenhouse won at Talladega in 2017 and usually is a factor in the draft.

Harrison Burton — Burton has had a tough rookie season, but the peculiarities of the Talladega draft should play in his favor. The No. 21 team’s next win will be its 100th.

Justin Haley — Haley has no top-10 runs in five Talladega starts, but he showed potential last week with a third-place finish at Texas.

Corey LaJoie — LaJoie has started nine Cup races at Talladega and has led exactly one lap. His best finish is a seventh.

Noah Gragson — Gragson, the star of this Xfinity season, is in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports with Alex Bowman out because of concussion-like symptoms. In the Talladega draft he could be a threat.