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Nemechek Gets Timely Truck Victory At Martinsville

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, March 26 2018

John Hunter Nemechek celebrates with a burnout after winning the weather-delayed NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway on Monday. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Tick Tock. John Hunter Nemechek finally won a grandfather clock.

After two second-place finishes and a third in nine NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Martinsville Speedway, the 20-year-old Nemechek held off rookie Kyle Benjamin to claim his sixth career truck series victory in Monday’s Alpha Energy Solutions 250.

“I knew the shot was coming on the last lap, but I kept overdriving the entry a little bit and I kept giving up a little bit of front grip with the front tires,” Nemechek said after the snow-delayed race that was originally scheduled for Saturday. “I lost a little bit of turn through the center those last few laps. I was just hoping that I would be able to maintain him behind me. My spotter kept me focused, kept me patient.”   

Driving the same truck he piloted to victories last year at Iowa and Gateway, Nemechek took the lead for the first time on a daring move following the seventh of 10 caution flags and never relinquished it. When the race resumed on lap 220 of the 250-lap event, Nemechek, who restarted third, shot to the inside, creating a three-wide situation with Benjamin and Todd Gilliland. When Benjamin and Gilliland collided, Nemechek scooted into the lead. He then survived a stiff challenge from Benjamin on the last lap when the 20-year-old Benjamin bumped Nemechek’s rear in the final turn.

“I don’t mind moving somebody if it’s for a win, but not anything out of control; something where you can just get position on them, not knock them out and cause any huge problems,” Benjamin said. “I just try to do to others what you want being done to yourself or what you would be OK to have done to yourself.”

With a team consisting of only four full-time employees, Nemechek and crew chief Gere Kennon said NEMCO Motorsports would now seek the owner championship since the young Nemechek’s victory qualifies the family-owned operation for the playoffs. Nemechek isn’t driving fulltime in the truck series this year, but rather splitting his time between it and NASCAR’s Xfinity Series. His father, Joe Nemechek, usually competes in truck races not entered by his son. The team is now 12th in the owner standings.

“We definitely can’t out-spend what some of the teams are spending out there,” Nemechek said, “but we definitely can out-work and out-smart them in certain ways. We make all of our own parts. Our motto at the shop is, ‘If you can dream it, we can make it. No matter if it works or not; it’s worth a shot.’”  

Nemechek appeared to have everything under control in the race’s later stages, but that wasn’t necessarily the case due to a pit stop miscue. When the seventh caution flag waved for debris, Kennon told Nemechek to pit. However, the young driver didn’t understand him because of static on his two-way radio and he remained on the track.

“That kinda put a lump in my throat because I figured there would be some beating and banging, be more cautions, and the guys with tires would get back to us,” Kennon said. “It was close, but it worked out.”

Nemechek attributed his ability to remain calm in the situation to the “great teachers” he has had through the years.

“You have to keep your mind clear. No matter what situation you’re in, you can’t psych yourself out,” Nemechek said. “It’s all a mental game out there.”

 Ben Rhodes, who was stopped for speeding by a Virginia State Police officer en route to the track Monday morning, won the race’s first two stages. Those were his first stage wins this year. He finished 12th.

Johnny Sauter, who has one victory this season and a single stage win, leads the driver standings by 29 points over Grant Enfinger.

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NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race – Alpha Energy Solutions 250

Martinsville Speedway

Martinsville, Virginia

Saturday, March 24, 2018

                  1. (8) John H. Nemechek(i), Chevrolet, 250.

                  2. (4) Kyle Benjamin(i), Toyota, 250.

                  3. (7) Brett Moffitt, Toyota, 250.

                  4. (3) Grant Enfinger, Ford, 250.

                  5. (11) Noah Gragson, Toyota, 250.

                  6. (9) Myatt Snider #, Ford, 250.

                  7. (16) Timothy Peters, Ford, 250.

                  8. (13) Harrison Burton, Toyota, 250.

                  9. (15) Austin Hill, Chevrolet, 250.

                  10. (12) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 250.

                  11. (18) Dalton Sargeant #, Chevrolet, 250.

                  12. (1) Ben Rhodes, Ford, 250.

                  13. (17) Cory Roper, Ford, 250.

                  14. (23) Todd Gilliland #, Toyota, 250.

                  15. (2) Matt Crafton, Ford, 250.

                  16. (20) Reid Wilson, Chevrolet, 250.

                  17. (28) Dawson Cram, Chevrolet, 250.

                  18. (29) Wendell Chavous, Chevrolet, 250.

                  19. (6) Johnny Sauter, Chevrolet, 249.

                  20. (5) Stewart Friesen, Chevrolet, 248.

                  21. (14) Tyler Matthews, Chevrolet, 248.

                  22. (25) Jordan Anderson, Chevrolet, 248.

                  23. (22) Kyle Donahue, Chevrolet, Electrical, 234.

                  24. (24) Robby Lyons, Chevrolet, Engine, 227.

                  25. (26) Josh Reaume, Chevrolet, 227.

                  26. (10) Cody Coughlin, Chevrolet, 225.

                  27. (21) Austin Wayne Self, Chevrolet, Electrical, 164.

                  28. (19) Justin Fontaine #, Chevrolet, Accident, 158.

                  29. (31) Jennifer Jo Cobb, Chevrolet, Electrical, 55.

                  30. (27) Kevin Donahue, Chevrolet, Brakes, 49.

                  31. (30) Norm Benning, Chevrolet, Too Slow, 35.

                  32. (32) Mike Senica, Chevrolet, Parked, 8.

 Average Speed of Race Winner:  64.628 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 02 Mins, 05 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.106 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  10 for 68 laps.

Lead Changes:  10 among 6 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   B. Rhodes 1-25; M. Crafton 26-29; B. Rhodes 30-76; S. Friesen 77-81; B. Rhodes 82; S. Friesen 83; B. Rhodes 84-92; T. Gilliland # 93; B. Rhodes 94-145; K. Benjamin(i) 146-219; J. Nemechek(i) 220-250.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  B. Rhodes 5 times for 134 laps; K. Benjamin(i) 1 time for 74 laps; J. Nemechek(i) 1 time for 31 laps; S. Friesen 2 times for 6 laps; M. Crafton 1 time for 4 laps; T. Gilliland # 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 41,88,98,21,54,8,52,18,16,13

Stage #2 Top Ten: 41,4,21,88,8,16,18,98,13,51

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, March 26 2018
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