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Patience Takes Back Seat To Advancing In Truck Race

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 31 2021

The tow trucks had a busy day at Martinsville on Saturday. Getting the hook above is John Hunter Nemechek. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Short-track racing unleashes raw emotions and Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series United Rentals 200 at Martinsville Speedway was no exception in the “hard and ugly sport.”

A lack of respect on the race track in the truck series consumed the interviews after the event that determined the four drivers who will compete for the title at Phoenix next weekend. 

John Hunter Nemechek advanced by a mere four points despite being eliminated from the event on lap 130. Nemechek crashed into the third-turn wall after being turned by Austin Wayne Self, whom he had previously bumped. After the race, Self said he didn’t know who was inside of him and there was no retaliation. Nemechek, who paced in the garage until the end of the race, responded, “If that’s the case, then he’s clueless and shouldn’t be out there racing.”

“My motto coming into this (race) was survive and advance,” Nemechek said. “We didn’t survive, but we advanced.”

Matt Crafton advanced despite being involved in a seven-truck crash in turn four on lap 185 of the scheduled 200-lap race.

Zane Smith survived a three-wide battle for the lead in overtime to claim his first victory this season and advance to the title round. Todd Gilliland and Stewart Friesen, the other two involved in the three-wide fight for the lead, crashed. Friesen turned Gilliland as they raced for turn one and then tried to pinch-off Smith. Instead, Friesen wrecked himself in the first turn on the white flag lap of the overtime race.

Ben Rhodes advanced with a less exciting 204-lap event due to his approach.

“I was just trying to avoid people all day,” Rhodes said. “I let plenty of people go that were beating my back bumper off. Then when they got up there in a fighting match I would drive back by them when they started racing side-by-side and doing something stupid. I think patience and just trying to be smart the whole race was the key for us.”

 The 24-year-old Nemechek and the 45-year-old Crafton provided two different solutions to the “respect” issue. Nemechek said NASCAR needed to step in and be consistent with issuing penalties. Crafton took a more old-school approach.

“At the end of the day if they wreck you, don’t just talk about it, do something about it,” Crafton said. “That’s my motto. Just bust somebody in the mouth and that’ll fix it.” 

 However, all of them admitted they would do whatever it took to secure a victory.

“Matt would wreck me for a win and I would probably wreck Matt for a win,” Nemechek said. “At the same time, there’s no respect there from guys that are out of the playoffs and guys that are in the playoffs. We’re all fighting for a title shot. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“There’s guys out here trying to prove their name. I get it. They’re young, they want to succeed, but wrecking all the time or in the middle of the race for no reason isn’t going to get you very far. It’s going to create more enemies ….”

Crafton noted that putting a bumper on someone was simply Martinsville-style racing.

“But don’t just drive through them and wreck them,” Crafton said. “I moved the (No.) 98 (Grant Enfinger) up and we were just fine. Then my worthless teammate (Enfinger) just drove through me off of (turn) four. It was his last race for ThorSport so I guess he wanted to show them what a cool guy he was at the end of the day.” 

Smith said he didn’t care who he had to move out of his way for a win; that he would even move his mother if necessary for a victory. 

“This is my life. This is my job,” Smith said.    

Even though Smith’s victory gave him a position in the title round, the 22-year-old driver said he doesn’t have a job for next year.

“There’s a lot of moving pieces right now in the racing world,” said Smith, who noted he had been losing sleep for about three months over his job situation.

“It’s a hard and ugly sport to do this for a living. I’ve kind of been racing all my life. So it’s nothing new to me. This time of year is always brutal.”

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NASCAR Truck Series Race – 23rd Annual United Rentals 200

Martinsville Speedway

Martinsville, Virginia

Saturday, October 30, 2021

  1. (9)  Zane Smith (P), Chevrolet, 204.
  2. (10)  Austin Hill, Toyota, 204.
  3. (27)  Tanner Gray, Ford, 204.
  4. (6)  Chandler Smith (P), Toyota, 204.
  5. (5)  Matt Crafton (P), Toyota, 204.
  6. (30)  Parker Kligerman, Toyota, 204.
  7. (3)  Ben Rhodes (P), Toyota, 204.
  8. (39)  Taylor Gray, Ford, 204.
  9. (4)  Sheldon Creed (P), Chevrolet, 204.
  10. (24)  Timmy Hill, Chevrolet, 204.
  11. (28)  Corey Heim, Toyota, 204.
  12. (8)  Carson Hocevar # (P), Chevrolet, 204.
  13. (26)  Kris Wright #, Chevrolet, 204.
  14. (14)  Danny Bohn, Toyota, 204.
  15. (18)  Spencer Boyd, Chevrolet, 204.
  16. (37)  Chris Hacker, Chevrolet, 204.
  17. (7)  Stewart Friesen (P), Toyota, 204.
  18. (12)  Tate Fogleman, Chevrolet, 204.
  19. (23)  Hailie Deegan #, Ford, 204.
  20. (21)  Austin Wayne Self, Chevrolet, 204.
  21. (15)  Grant Enfinger, Toyota, 204.
  22. (20)  Bret Holmes, Chevrolet, 204.
  23. (33)  Dawson Cram, Chevrolet, 204.
  24. (17)  Derek Kraus, Toyota, 204.
  25. (2)  Todd Gilliland, Ford, 203.
  26. (19)  Tyler Ankrum, Chevrolet, 203.
  27. (34)  Jack Wood, Chevrolet, 203.
  28. (25)  Josh Berry(i), Chevrolet, 203.
  29. (36)  Spencer Davis, Toyota, 202.
  30. (38)  Jesse Iwuji, Toyota, 202.
  31. (22)  Johnny Sauter, Toyota, 201.
  32. (31)  Sage Karam(i), Chevrolet, 200.
  33. (11)  Ryan Truex, Chevrolet, 198.
  34. (35)  Josh Reaume, Toyota, 198.
  35. (40)  Roger Reuse, Ford, 193.
  36. (32)  Jennifer Jo Cobb, Ford, 190.
  37. (16)  Cory Roper, Ford, 188.
  38. (29)  Colby Howard(i), Chevrolet, 174.
  39. (1)  John Hunter Nemechek (P), Toyota, Accident, 129.
  40. (13)  Chase Purdy #, Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 33.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  56.402 mph.

Time of Race:  1 Hrs, 54 Mins, 9 Secs. Margin of Victory:  Under Caution Seconds.

Caution Flags:  14 for 89 laps.

Lead Changes:  10 among 4 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   T. Gilliland 1-71;J. Nemechek (P) 72-73;T. Gilliland 74-105;Z. Smith (P) 106-109;C. Hocevar # (P) 110-111;Z. Smith (P) 112-122;C. Hocevar # (P) 123-124;Z. Smith (P) 125-173;T. Gilliland 174-203;Z. Smith (P) 204.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Todd Gilliland 3 times for 133 laps; Zane Smith (P) 4 times for 65 laps; Carson Hocevar # (P) 2 times for 4 laps; John Hunter Nemechek (P) 1 time for 2 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 38,2,4,99,88,21,52,13,42,16

Stage #2 Top Ten: 38,4,2,13,88,99,17,21,42,52

 

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| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 31 2021
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