Brandon Jones passed Sheldon Creed in the Tunnel Turn on the final lap to win Sunday’s Gander RV & Outdoors Truck race at Pocono Raceway.
Creed took the lead on the next-to-last lap off a restart, going between Jones and Austin Hill. Jones and Creed battled side by side on the final lap through Turn 1 and entering the Tunnel Turn before Jones pulled ahead and went on to score his first series win in his 46th career start.
The 60-lap race was slowed by a track record-tying nine cautions.
Christian Eckes, seeking his first series win, was among the victims in the race. He crashed while leading with 12 laps to go when a tire went down. He finished 33rd.
The race saw three cautions and two red flags in the first 13 laps. Reigning series champion Matt Crafton was collected in a crash on the first corner of the first lap. He finished last. Crafton entered the race one point out of what would be the final playoff spot.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Sheldon Creed
STAGE 2 WINNER: Sheldon Creed
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Austin Hill, who finished second, scored his seventh consecutive top-10 result but remains winless this season. … Sheldon Creed, who finished a season-best third, won both stages and scored his first top-10 finish in the past three races. … Todd Gilliland placed fourth for his best result of the year. … Ben Rhodes finished fifth for his best run of the season.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Matt Crafton finished last after he was collected in Codie Rohrbaugh‘s crash on the first corner of the first lap. Rohrbaugh finished 39th. … Raphael Lessard hit the grass in Turn 3 and shot up into the wall and in Austin Wayne Self‘s path on the sixth lap. Lessard finished 37th. Self finished 38th. … Ty Majeski, running third, blocked Grant Enfinger and wrecked on the 12th lap. Majeski placed 36th.
NOTABLE: Kyle Busch Motorsports scored its 78th career Truck win. Thirteen drivers have accounted for those victories.
NEXT: The series races at 6 p.m. ET July 11 at Kentucky Speedway on FS1.
Call him the bounty hunter: Chase Elliott beats Kyle Busch to win $100K
Chase Elliott may have earned a new nickname Tuesday night: the Bounty Hunter.
By winning the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Elliott won a $100,000 “bounty” put up by Kevin Harvick and Gander RV & Outdoors CEO Marcus Lemonis to be a full-time Cup driver to beat Kyle Busch to the finish line, snapping Busch’s streak of seven consecutive Truck Series wins.
The money goes to a charity of Elliott’s choosing, benefitting COVID-19 relief.
“It was a lot of fun,” Elliott told FS1. “It’d been a long time. It doesn’t make up for Sunday (finished second in the Coca-Cola 600) but it was still a really good night. I’m glad to win and do some good for the relief efforts for this virus.”
Busch gave Elliott all he could handle in the last 15 laps, drawing closer seemingly on every lap, but ultimately couldn’t catch Elliott before the finish line.
“He was a little better than I was there at the end; I had gotten a little tight and I don’t think we adjusted enough on the last pit stop,” Elliott said of Busch. “Luckily, the right front stayed on it long enough to get to the end.
“To be able to come out and out-run him and him finish second, I’d rather have him finish second than wreck or something, so I feel like I did something right.”
It was Elliott’s third win in 13 career Truck Series races.
Busch was frustrated with his truck all night.
“(The truck) just never was right, so we were out in left field the whole night, never had a real great feel for the truck, a great driving truck, so I just salvaged what I could,” Busch said in a post-race Zoom media conference call. “It was self-inflicted, threw it away. We had six months to prepare and screwed it all up.”
Busch chuckled when told that Elliott imitated Busch’s usual bow after each win he amasses.
“No, this is the first I’m hearing of it,” Busch said. “Imitation is the strongest form of flattery or I don’t know what it is. But that’s cute.”
“It was just a spur of the moment thing,” Elliott said with a smile. “I thought we’ve had so much fun with it with Kevin (Harvick) and putting up the money, Kyle was a good sport about it.
“It was not a dig at anybody, just having fun with it. It was about beating him, so why not have some fun with it.”
Tuesday’s race was the first for the Truck Series since Busch won Feb. 21 at Las Vegas, just a couple of weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down NASCAR racing for more than two months.
It was Elliott’s first Truck race since 2017.
“It was about beating Kyle and we did that, so I guess I can quit now,” Elliott laughed.
Busch, meanwhile, saw his streak of winning the last seven Truck races he entered fall short of an eighth consecutive start and win.
Busch finished fourth in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, won Monday’s Xfinity race and was runner-up in Tuesday’s race. He goes for another win in Wednesday’s Alsco Uniforms 500, which wraps up four races in as many days at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Who had a good race: Zane Smith was the highest finishing rookie driver, earning a career-best third-place finish. Smith has made just four starts in a Truck in his career but gave the front runners a formidable challenge, particularly in the final 15 laps. “I was so determined to get third,” the 20-year-old Smith said. “It was an awesome night.”
Who had a bad race:Brennan Poole was involved in two last segment incidents that prevented him from making his bid to collect the Harvick/Lemonis bounty. Poole finished 38th. … Matt Crafton suffered a broken track bar late in the race, ending his night prematurely. Crafton finished 35th.
Notable: Brett Moffitt continues to impress in his ongoing recovery from suffering two broken legs in mid-March. In the last five days, Moffitt has earned strong 11th (Darlington) and 6th (Charlotte) place finishes with a fourth-place finish in the Truck race.
What’s next: Vet Tix Camping World 200, Saturday June 6 at 1 p.m. ET, Texas Motor Speedway.
Ty Majeski once again showed why he’s one of the best iRacing drivers in the world, dominating from the pole en route to the win under the lights in Friday Night Thunder at a virtual Martinsville Speedway.
“I was able to control the race starting up front and was able to control all those restarts,” Majeski said on the eNASCAR broadcast. “Thankfully, I was just able to really stay in control the entire race, not make any mistakes and we were able to bring it home.
“Definitely, I feel like it was long overdue. I’ve always had speed but just never could put a whole race together.
“I don’t run these big cars a ton, so it took me a bit to find my rhythm with them and get the strategies right. I hurt myself so many times on strategy on the Pro Invitational races and Saturday Night Thunder races, so I just learned each and every week and we were finally able to put it all together tonight.
“It certainly helps being on a short track, which is what I primarily do on iRacing. So it was right in my wheelhouse and thankfully I was able to hold those guys off on all those restarts ad put a whole race together as well.”
Last Chance qualifying race (15 laps – top six drivers advance to main event)
1. Grant Enfinger 2. Drew Herring 3. Jesse Iwuji 4. Ryan Ellis 5. Ty Gibbs 6. Jeb Burton 7. Scott Stenzel
8. Jeffrey Earnhardt
9. Chase Briscoe
10. Austin Cindric
11. Ruben Garcia Jr.
12. Will Rodgers
13. CJ McLaughlin
14. Brandon Brown
15. Ryan Vargas
16. Spencer Boyd
17. Matt Mills
With NASCAR scheduled to return on May 17 at Darlington Raceway, the planned conclusion of NASCAR’s iRacing season will take place this week, with events held on a virtual North Wilkesboro Speedway and Martinsville Speedway.
The planned finale of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series will occur at 3 p.m. ET Saturday at North Wilkesboro on Fox and FS1.
Among the initial 28 entries is Jeff Gordon, who won the final Cup Series race there in 1996. Not among the entered drivers is William Byron, who has won three of the six Invitational races so far. Also, Matt DiBenedetto has been replaced in the No. 21 car by Jon Wood, the member of the Wood family who once competed in the Xfinity and Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.
Gordon will be joined in the race by fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Labonte. They are the only two entries in the race who competed in Cup races on the real North Wilkesboro.
According to NASCAR.com, the race will be 160 laps. Drivers will get one reset. There will be manual cautions and a maximum of three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish. Christopher Bell and Timmy Hill, who finished second and third at Dover, will start from the rear. The top 10 qualifiers will be inverted to start the event.
Like the Pro Invitational Series, this weekend sees the scheduled conclusion of the iRacing series dedicated to non-Cup drivers with a race at a virtual Martinsville Speedway at 8 p.m. ET Friday on eNASCAR.com/live.
The series is open to drivers from the Xfinity, Gander RV & Outdoors Truck, NASCAR Peak Mexico, Pinty’s, Whelen Euro and ARCA series.
The virtual race will be conducted under the lights and will be 125 laps.
The format: Single-car qualifying will set the grid for four, 10-lap heat races to determine 24 spots in the feature. A 15-lap last-chance qualifier race will determine six spots in the feature for a total of 30 cars.
The order of the first 10 cars in the feature will be inverted before the green flag. There will be one reset, manual cautions and three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish.
Anthony Alfredo won the Saturday Night Thunder iRacing event on a digital Dover International Speedway, coming out on top in a duel with Alex Labbe.
Alfredo, who competes in the Xfinity Series for Richard Childress Racing, had to pass Labbe twice in the final 12 laps to secure the win on the 1-mile track.
He took the lead for the final time with seven laps to go in the 125-lap race.
“If you were looking on my Twitch stream right now … I’m sweating so bad,” Alfredo said after the race on the Saturday Night Thunder broadcast. “I’m sweating as much as I do in a 140-degree race car. That was unreal, man.”
The race came down to Alfredo and Labbe mostly due to pit strategy. Labbe was the first to pit during a green flag cycle with 49 laps to go. Alfredo had fresher tires when he caught him.
“I knew long run was my strength,” Alfredo said. “That five to 10-lap window of better tires is a tremendous difference here.”
Alfredo made his Xfinity debut earlier this year at Auto Club Speedway. It’s his only start in the series this season.
Donny Lia, a Whelen Modified driver, dominated the first part of the race, leading every lap from the pole until he pit with around 40 laps to go and was caught speeding. He had to serve a penalty and finished off the lead lap.
The race saw three cautions.
The first occurred on Lap 20 for a multi-car crash involving Tyler Ankrum. After the restart on Lap 23, the caution waved on Lap 25 for another multi-car incident that included Noah Gragson. The race resumed on Lap 25 before the caution returned on Lap 32 for a multi-car wreck that included Christian Eckes, Ty Majeski, Josh Berry and Ruben Garcia.
After the field was set through four heat races and two last chance qualifying races, the top eight in the field were inverted, with Lia starting first.