Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 – NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Recap

On Friday evening, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returned to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200. The race ran for 201 miles for 134 laps, with a day-to-night transition during the race. Defending track winner John Hunter Nemechek would start first in his #4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra, with teammate and last week’s winner Chandler Smith starting alongside. Behind the pair of Tundras was the #52 Chevrolet of Stewart Friesen, and Zane Smith beside him in the #21 Chevy.

At the start, Nemechek swooped down in front of his teammate on the inside, which would prove to be effective as the top lane wouldn’t be as quick heading into turn one. In the opening laps, Smith fell back to fourth, with Todd Gilliland moving up to second in the #38 David Gilliland Racing Ford, and Stewart Friesen retaining his position in third. Further back in the pack, the #45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet of Chris Hacker got extremely loose in an attempt to pass around the outside lane. Hacker spun and hit the outside wall, bringing out the first caution of the evening.

At the restart, Nemechek would elect the outside lane, with Gilliland to his inside. The #4 cut down in front of the inside lane, allowing him to have the preferred lane into turn one. Teammate Smith then jumped up to second, with Ben Rhodes in the Thorsport #99 Toyota moving into third. Much of the running order wouldn’t change, though Gilliland would find his way back up to second place. John Hunter Nemechek won the first stage, with Todd Gilliland coming in second.

For the start of stage two, Nemechek chose the inside lane, with Gilliland on the outside. Nemechek slightly pulled away from the pack entering the first corner, though entering turn three, he would lose his momentum and lose a few positions. The next lap, Nemechek would be put three wide between Zane Smith on the outside and Stewart Friesen on the inside. Friesen’s #52 moved into Nemechek, causing him to strike Smith’s left rear tire. Smith’s already flat tire then exploded on the backstretch, hitting the truck’s battery and putting large chunks of debris right in the middle of the track. This would bring out the third caution, with Smith limping to pit road. 

Rhodes took the lead at the restart, with Sheldon Creed in the #2 GMS Chevy and Todd Gilliland challenging. Behind the leaders, John Hunter Nemechek began to experience tire issues from the previous contact with Zane Smith. A few laps later, he would find a different kind of issue; he was losing power in his truck. Meanwhile, Todd Gilliland got past Ben Rhodes to take the lead. The caution came out as Nemechek was stopped on track. After the restart with less than five laps to go in stage two, Gilliland pulled away from Rhodes, winning the second stage of the race.

Five laps into stage three, Carson Hocevar took the lead in the #42 Niece Motorsports Chevy, with Austin Hill in the #16 Hattori Racing Toyota challenging. As the leaders were exiting turn two, seventh place Tyler Ankrum in the #26 GMS Racing Chevrolet spun, getting a hard hit by the #18 of Chandler Smith. Ankrum would collect the #1 DGR Ford of Hailie Deegan and the #23 GMS Chevy of Chase Purdy. As Smith was rolling down the track, the #2 truck of Sheldon Creed attempted to avoid the incident by going full throttle at the bottom of the track, but he instead struck Smith in a huge fiery crash. Thankfully all the drivers were okay, though this would obviously cause a caution.

After the restart, Nemechek would once again lose power and stop, bringing out yet another caution.

After the restart, Todd Gilliland took the lead over Ben Rhodes, and would pull away from the #99 by over a second. After quite a few laps of Rhodes attempting to catch and pass Gilliland, the caution was once again shown, as rookie Drew Dollar spun in the #51 KBM Tundra, collecting the #24 Chevy of Jack Wood. 

After the restart, Gilliland retained his lead, though this time it wouldn’t be over Rhodes. It was Rhodes’ Thorsport teammate, Christian Eckes, who is running a part time schedule sharing the #98 Toyota with Grant Enfinger. Eckes would try to catch up to Gilliland, though he simply didn’t have the time nor the speed to get close enough to pass. Fortunately for him though, Carson Hocevar had tire issues, forcing him to slow down. Though this itself wouldn’t cause the caution Eckes needed to have a better chance at passing for the lead. Hocevar, however, controversially spun out on his own, bringing out a caution and allowing him to not lose as much position if he had pitted under green. Whether intentional or not, Hocevar was penalized one lap on pit road.

For the final restart, it was Eckes on the outside with the leader, Gilliland, on the inside. Eckes would get a huge push from Hill in the #16, and take the lead with four laps to go. On the backstretch, Eckes, Hill and Gilliland were all even with each other, three-wide. Eckes, however, would get a push from his two Thorsport teammates on the top lane, Ben Rhodes and Matt Crafton in the #88. Further behind the three Toyotas was their fourth teammate, Johnny Sauter in the #13, quickly gaining position. For the remaining laps, Eckes was blocking his teammates left and right. On the final corner of the final lap, Ben Rhodes was putting himself in position to pass his younger teammate, though the caution would come out, and since it was the final lap, Christian Eckes earned his first career win at Las Vegas!

Ben Rhodes finished second in his #99 Thorsport Tundra, with Matt Crafton in the #88 Tundra finishing third. Johnny Sauter took fourth in the #13 Toyota, making it an all-Thorsport, all-Toyota top-four, with Todd Gilliland finishing out the top-five in the #38 DGR Ford.

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