Nemechek Gets a Groovy Win in a Swag Throwback Race at Darlington

The stats sheet is going to say that John Hunter Nemechek won the 2022 Dead On Tools 200 from the pole position, scoring his 12th career win in the Camping World Truck Series. It’ll say that Carson Hocevar finished runner-up, with Grant Enfinger, Ty Majeski, and Matt Crafton rounding out the top five. 

But that stats sheet won’t tell you just how hard a time he had doing it. Fans might have expected domination from polesitter John Hunter Nemechek. He crushed the field in both practice and qualifying, his best lap in time trials an incredible four-tenths faster than second place. But once the green flag dropped and the sun went down, the race could have gone to anyone. 

Nemechek and Zane Smith led the opening laps, but after a lap 20 caution for Lawless Alan’s spin, diverging tire strategies left Nemechek up front while Parker Kligerman, racing for part-time Henderson Motorsports, restarted 14th on four fresh tires. 

The part-time NBC analyst drove up through the field, besting Truck Series regulars and even Cup phenom Ross Chastain to claim the first stage win of his career. He would end up sixth in the final running order.

Chastain snatched the lead on the post-stage pit cycle, with his Niece Motorsports teammate Carson Hocevar alongside him. The two Niece trucks scampered off into the distance, followed closely by Kligerman. 

Under a caution for Tate Fogleman’s spin, semi-retired two-time champion Todd Bodine stayed out to lead the field this throwback weekend. But then, on old tires, he couldn’t hold off the Niece brigade, as Chastain, Hocevar, and the rest blew past him on the bottom. “The Onion” would end up tenth, his 125th career top-10 in the series.

As stage two wound down, nineteen-year-old Hocevar kept his Travis Pastrana throwback right in the tracks of his melon-farming teammate, and when the two-time Cup winner started to lose the handle on his truck, Hocevar pounced. With just 4 laps remaining in stage 2, Carson Hocevar passed Chastain on the bottom. He held on to score the first stage win of his career. 

The second time he tried to pass Chastain on a restart, John Hunter Nemechek returned to the lead midway through the final stage. With 42 laps to go, John Hunter Nemechek was right back where he started. Barring a brief moment when Christian Eckes snatched the top spot on a two-tire call, Nemechek wouldn’t look back. Restart after restart, even into NASCAR Overtime, John Hunter held off Hocevar, Chastain, and all others, scoring the win in the 650th race of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, his first of the season.

UPDATE: Matt Crafton’s No. 88 ThorSport Toyota was found to be too low in post-race inspection and has been disqualified, promoting Kligerman to 5th, his third top five of the year.

Featured Image from Kyle Busch Motorsports on Twitter

Published by Jack Swansey

Originally from North Carolina, Jack has been a NASCAR fan since 2008, and his favorite driver is Bubba Wallace. At Wesleyan University, he studied film and anthropology and wrote his senior thesis about the fan culture of American stock car racing. When not watching NASCAR, Jack is probably looking for some other motorsport to watch, scouring antique stores for hard-to-find diecasts, or investigating the history of some obscure backmarker team or another. To fund his HotWheels collection, Jack works in television production.

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