So Close yet So Far – the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on Bristol Dirt

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series held their second ever race on the Dirt Track over Bristol Motor Speedway. The winners of the four qualifying heat races were Cup regular Austin Dillon in the #20 winning Heat 1, Ty Majeski in the #66 winning Heat 2, another Cup regular with Joey Logano winning Heat 3 in the #54, and Chandler Smith in the #18 winning Heat 4. The race was 150 laps for nearly 80 miles, and was started right as the sun set.

As the green flag waved, Ben Rhodes in the #99 challenged pole sitter Joey Logano for the lead in the opening lap. He took a comfortable lead not long after, and was relatively unchallenged as the pack behind him slipped, slid, and battled each other. A little after the halfway point in the stage, the #49 of Andrew Gordon spun in turn four, bringing out the first yellow flag of the night.

Rhodes continued to hold a good lead, with teammate Ty Majeski jumping up to second. The two Thorsport Toyotas were pulling away from third place Stewart Friesen, not by much but by enough to where they were unchallenged. The two teammates finished 1-2 in the first stage. 

Even after not pitting, the #99 and #66 of Rhodes and Majeski held the lead at the restart. In the middle of the three-wide, sometimes four or five-wide, racing, the #75 of Parker Kligerman was pulling some pretty good moves, passing former Cup champion Joey Logano and multi-time race winner Chandler Smith in exciting fashion. The green flag period lasted just shy of fifteen laps, as the #44 truck of Kris Wright spun and brought out the third yellow, and only the second for an accident. 

As the race restarted, the top two remained the same. Behind them was Joey Logano, and further back, the #22 of Austin Wayne Self had a close call with the #7 of Cup champion Chase Elliott. The #22 slid up in front of the #7, with both of them running up the track. Later on in the stage, with just four laps to go, the #54 of Logano got underneath the #4 of John Hunter Nemechek. As the #54 slid up from the bottom side, the #4 came down to reach the apex of the corner. The two door slammed rather hard, and fortunately for them, neither had serious damage. The #99 and #66 once again finished 1-2 in the stage, with Nemechek in third.

Because the two leaders had pit, that put John Hunter Nemechek up to the lead. Within a lap, Carson Hocevar in the #42 took the lead from him. Behind, the #25 of Matt DiBenedetto through a send on the #22 of Austin Wayne Self, and the two struck bumpers pretty hard. In what looked like the #22 expressing his displeasure the the #25, the two bumpers were locked. It turns out that the rear of DiBenedetto’s truck had gotten stuck in the nose of Self’s truck. The pair stopped on track, which brought out a quick red flag for safety workers to help get the two separated.

After that was all sorted out, the race restarted. Hocevar once again took a comfortable lead over Nemechek with forty-five laps to go. A couple of quick yellows for spins and crashes saw the same thing: Hocevar led over Nemechek comfortably for a few laps. While all this was happening, the fastest man on track, Ben Rhodes in the #99, was slowly working his way back to the front. While battling in the top five at this point, Rhodes pulled up in front of the #51 of Buddy Kofoid. Kofoid, after attempting a crossover move, spun, and the #66 of Majeski spun to avoid him. This seemed like the two were fine, with no damage, until the #19 of Derek Kraus spun to avoid the pair as well, colliding with both of them. This brought out the eighth and final caution.

The race restarted with just five laps to go. Carson Hocevar was so close to his first career win, but had the fastest truck on track just behind him. Going into turn one, Rhodes passed Hocevar for the lead. On fresher tires, and with a better truck, the #99  held off Hocevar’s #42 truck, and after a few laps, Ben Rhodes got his first win of the season at Bristol Dirt!

After Ben Rhodes got the victory, Carson Hocevar held on for a heartbreaking second place, with John Hunter Nemechek behind in third. Parker Kligerman finished fourth in the #75, a great result for that team, and Christian Eckes in the #98 finished up the top five. Joey Logano Finished sixth and Chase Elliott seventh in their one-off starts, with Grant Enfinger in the #23, Matt Crafton in the #88 and Zane Smith in the #38 closing off the top ten.

Photo Credit///@Puffadda, Twitter.com

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