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Nemechek Wins Truck Race In OT

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 7 2022

John Hunter Nemechek drove to victory at Martinsville on Friday. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

DARLINGTON, S.C. – John Hunter Nemechek led four times for 69 laps, including the final 27 in Friday night’s Dead On Tools 200 at Darlington Raceway to claim his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory this year and at the historic track.

Nemechek, driving a Toyota, snatched the lead from Christian Eckes on lap 123, then survived two caution period restarts to take a 0.552-second overtime victory over Carson Hocevar in a Chevrolet.

“There’s definitely excitement there, but more relief just from the finishes that we had to start the year,” said Nemechek, who had a fan throw a drink bottle at him during his post-race interview on the track’s frontstretch. “It didn’t seem like we were still the team that we were (last year). 

“We were fast. We were leading laps. We were winning Stages, but we weren’t finishing where we needed to. I feel like we finally have the ship turned the right way.” 

Nemechek was a victory contender for most of the 149-lap event that sported a green-white-checker finish, forcing the event two laps past its scheduled distance. He finished sixth in Stage 1, which was won by Parker Kligerman, and fifth in Stage 2 that was claimed by Hocevar. The lone incident that Nemechek thought foiled his victory hopes occurred on lap 59 when a loose wheel forced him to pit.

“I didn’t know if we had a loose wheel or if we were on the splitter or whatever, but something didn’t feel right,” Nemechek said. “So out of precaution, we came down and we felt like we had a good enough race truck that we could try and drive back up through there. We were able to do so and get back through the field and get us in contention. That was huge for us. Just being able to get back in the top five after that and have some really good pit stops after the loose wheel. We gained some positions there and that put us in position to be able to make the right move. With the choose (rule) coming to one to go, we were able to get some really good restarts, too.”

 Nemechek averaged 91.625 mph in the race that was slowed by 10 caution flags for 54 laps on the 1.366-mile track. He is now second in the point standings with nine races remaining before the regular season ends July 23 at Pocono Raceway. 

The Darlington race kicked off an eight-week stretch for the Truck Series with the next event scheduled for May 14 at Kansas Speedway.

“I think it’s huge to start off an eight-week stretch like this,” Nemechek said. “To be able to win a race and have momentum on your side, it’s huge. I don’t have to show up at the Monday meeting and have (team owner) Kyle (Busch) ask me when we’re going to win a race. I don’t have to hear that anymore, so that’s nice.”

The 24-year-old Nemechek now possesses 12 victories in the Truck Series in 131 starts.

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 7 2022
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