John Hunter Nemechek ekes out Truck Series win at Las Vegas

Jun 10, 2020; Martinsville, VA, USA; NASCAR driver John Hunter Nemechek waits for the start of the NASCAR Cup Series at Martinsville at Martinsville Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Steve Helber/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Network
Jun 10, 2020; Martinsville, VA, USA; NASCAR driver John Hunter Nemechek waits for the start of the NASCAR Cup Series at Martinsville at Martinsville Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Steve Helber/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Network

John Hunter Nemechek earned his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win in three years, holding off his boss Kyle Busch by 0.695 seconds for the victory Friday night in the Bucked Up 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

It was a 1-2 finish for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Nemechek, 23, of Mooresville, N.C., led a race-best 94 laps in the No. 4 Toyota. The pair combined to lead a dominating 110 of the 134 total laps with each taking a stage victory.

And while Nemechek held the point for most of the race, it was a typically thrilling Las Vegas show turned in by Vegas native Busch, who had won the past three spring races at the track.

Busch started 29th and raced his way inside the top 10 by the 10th lap. A blown tire on his No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota put him down a lap with about 50 laps remaining, and again, he turned in a dazzling performance. He restarted 25th with 31 laps to go and broke into the top 10 just 10 laps later.

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The two Kyle Busch Motorsports drivers were lined up first and second on the race’s final restart with six laps to go, but Nemechek was able to pull ahead and pull away to his first series victory driving for the series’ all-time winningest driver, Busch.

“Coming back to the Truck Series, that was the plan, that was the goal, we came into the year with the hashtag ‘here for wins’ and we are here for wins,” said Nemechek, who has seven career series wins. “I definitely think experience paid off tonight.”

Disappointed not to win, Busch was still encouraged for his team after the race.

“It’s perfect, it’s all you can ask for, it’s everything,” the two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion said of his team after the race. “It’s cool to see the 4 truck in Victory Lane and see John Hunter have a shot and get back in Victory Lane.

“Having Eric Phillips back and all the guys that have come on board this year doing all the stuff that we’re accustomed to doing and getting back to running up front, seeing both of us sharing in that and having that speed, that 4 truck was fast.

“Even on those short runs, I couldn’t run with him. After about eight or 10 (laps), I had a better shot at running with him but we just didn’t have the laps there at the end.”

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Austin Hill, a two-time Las Vegas winner, finished third. He wsa followed by Stewart Friesen and Matt Crafton. Zane Smith, Grant Enfinger, Parker Kligerman, Christian Eckes and Ben Rhodes — a two-time winner already this season — rounded out the top 10.

Enfinger and Kligerman both collected an extra $25,000 bonus check from series sponsor Camping World for their top-10 efforts. The series sponsor offered an incentive program this week with an extra payday available for the 10 trucks that carried the Camping World name on it, as Enfinger’s and Kligerman’s did. There was a bonus for winning, finishing among the top five and finishing among the top 10.

With the win, Nemechek takes a 14-point advantage atop the championship standings over Rhodes. The series’ next race is the Fr8Auctions 200 on March 20 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race — 4th Annual Bucked Up 200
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Las Vegas, Nevada
Friday, March 5, 2021
1. (3) John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 134.
2. (29) Kyle Busch(i), Toyota, 134.
3. (31) Austin Hill, Toyota, 134.
4. (9) Stewart Friesen, Toyota, 134.
5. (4) Matt Crafton, Toyota, 134.
6. (32) Zane Smith, Chevrolet, 134.
7. (18) Grant Enfinger, Chevrolet, 134.
8. (40) Parker Kligerman, Chevrolet, 134.
9. (5) Christian Eckes, Toyota, 134.
10. (1) Ben Rhodes, Toyota, 134.
11. (17) Brett Moffitt, Chevrolet, 134.
12. (22) Tanner Gray, Ford, 134.
13. (6) Todd Gilliland, Ford, 134.
14. (12) Austin Wayne Self, Chevrolet, 134.
15. (11) Johnny Sauter, Toyota, 134.
16. (19) Timothy Peters, Chevrolet, 134.
17. (26) Danny Bohn, Toyota, 134.
18. (2) Sheldon Creed, Chevrolet, 134.
19. (7) Chandler Smith #, Toyota, 134.
20. (20) Tate Fogleman, Chevrolet, 134.
21. (23) Dawson Cram, Chevrolet, 134.
22. (33) Spencer Boyd, Chevrolet, 134.
23. (21) Chase Purdy #, Chevrolet, 134.
24. (10) Carson Hocevar #, Chevrolet, 133.
25. (15) Kris Wright #, Chevrolet, 132.
26. (39) BJ McLeod(i), Toyota, 132.
27. (28) Jordan Anderson(i), Chevrolet, 132.
28. (30) Hailie Deegan #, Ford, 130.
29. (34) Jennifer Jo Cobb, Chevrolet, 130.
30. (13) Raphael Lessard, Chevrolet, 130.
31. (37) Jesse Iwuji, Chevrolet, 129.
32. (8) Derek Kraus, Toyota, 126.
33. (35) Norm Benning, Chevrolet, 123.
34. (16) Tyler Ankrum, Chevrolet, Accident, 122.
35. (25) Tyler Hill, Chevrolet, Accident, 112.
36. (27) Cory Roper, Ford, Accident, 111.
37. (38) Bret Holmes, Chevrolet, DVP, 106.
38. (24) Ryan Truex, Chevrolet, DVP, 103.
39. (14) David Gilliland, Ford, Accident, 96.
40. (36) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, Accident, 68.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 96.134 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 5 Mins, 27 Secs. Margin of Victory: .686 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 9 for 48 laps.
Lead Changes: 9 among 5 drivers.
Lap Leaders: B. Rhodes 0;S. Creed 1-6;J. Nemechek 7-32;S. Creed 33;J. Nemechek 34-47;K. Busch(i) 48-63;S. Friesen 64-67;J. Nemechek 68-90;B. Moffitt 91-103;J. Nemechek 104-134.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): John Hunter Nemechek 4 times for 94 laps; Kyle Busch(i) 1 time for 16 laps; Brett Moffitt 1 time for 13 laps; Sheldon Creed 2 times for 7 laps; Stewart Friesen 1 time for 4 laps.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 4,2,88,51,52,98,17,99,18,9
Stage #2 Top Ten: 51,4,52,88,99,16,9,17,98,26

–By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.