DiBenedetto Finally gets it Done, Steals the Win After Chaotic Talladega Finish

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series headed to the heart of Alabama on Saturday for the second race of the Round of 8 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Coming in to the race, the playoff picture was of course a big point of discussion. Ty Majeski’s win last week locked him in to the championship four, making him the only playoff driver who could relax. Chandler Smith (+24), Zane Smith (+21), and Stewart Friesen (+9) made up the rest of the top four, with John Hunter Nemechek (-9), Christian Eckes (-13), Grant Enfinger (-15), and Ben Rhodes (-18) below the cut line.

John Hunter Nemechek and Chandler Smith would lead the field to green on the front row, followed by Carson Hocevar and Zane Smith on row two, then Matt Crafton and Ty Majeski on row three. Notably, Jennifer Jo Cobb made the race on speed to make her 2022 season debut, outqualifying Natalie Decker, Spencer Boyd, Jason White, and Tim Viens, all of whom were sent home with DNQ’s.

Since the inception of the playoff system, a playoff driver has never won the fall Talladega race in the Truck Series. Ultimately, that trend would continue as Matt DiBenedetto survived an incredibly wacky finish and stole the win.

With five laps to go, Carson Hocevar cut down a tire from the lead, and pulled to the apron, eventually spinning (in what was deemed to be an intentional manner) to bring out a yellow and set up a green white checker finish that saw absolute chaos coming to the line.

Coming to the checkered flag, Ben Rhodes went high to throw a block on a charging Bret Holmes, which allowed Matt DiBenedetto to get a run to the inside. Rhodes then cut back down the track, and made contact with DiBenedetto, forcing him below the line and causing him to spin and total chaos to ensue.

NASCAR then went into a lengthy review to decide exactly what happened, and more specifically when.

Bret Holmes crossed the finish line first, beating a sliding DiBenedetto by .002 seconds in what would have been one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history, but the caution flew before the field got to the line as the 51 truck of Corey Heim made heavy contact with the wall and triggered a massive wreck behind the leaders. Based on the time when the caution flew, DiBenedetto was ahead of Holmes and Rhodes, which led to him being ruled the winner.

While some may take exception to the ruling, it is worth noting that DiBenedetto absolutely would have won regardless if Rhodes hadn’t come back down the track and doored him, as his run would have catapulted him by easily. Bret Holmes, an Alabama native who was also looking for his first career win, would ultimately have to settle for second at his home track, which was good for his best career finish.

Only two playoff drivers were able to finish in the top-10, with Ben Rhodes finishing P2 and Christian Eckes coming home P5. This has the picture around the cut line looking particularly interesting.

With Ty Majeski locked in and Chandler Smith (+30) and Zane Smith (+28) both relatively safe, Ben Rhodes currently holds the fourth and final spot in the championship 4 over Stewart Friesen (+2), Christian Eckes (-4), and John Hunter Nemechek (-4). Grant Enfinger (-28) was the only playoff driver that had significant problems prior to the last lap incident, and now finds himself in a must win scenario heading to Homestead.

Early in the race we saw a very scary moment involving Jordan Anderson. In turn two, his truck became engulfed in flames while running at pace. Anderson slowed the truck as fast as he could, but had to get out as soon as he could with the flames getting worse – and ended up trying to do so before the truck had come to a stop.

Anderson started climbing from the truck, and while hanging halfway out of it made contact with the inside wall, thankfully avoiding being crushed or thrown from the vehicle. Anderson was awake and alert in the infield care center, but had to be airlifted to a local hospital as a result of the incident.

Later in the race we saw another scary moment that had the potential to end in disaster. During green flag pit stops in the final stage Hailie Deegan came into her pit stall too quickly and struck her tire carrier, sending a tire rolling into the infield.

The crew member was uninjured by the hit, however in the confusion, he ran across pit road and into the infield to retrieve the tire, which is a huge rule violation. The crew member was ejected from the race immediately following the incident, and fines for Deegan’s crew chief as well as a lengthy suspension for the crew member are anticipated.

The next stop for the Truck Series will be in three weeks, as they will head to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the final race before the Championship Four.

Image credit: Rackley W.A.R. on Twitter

Published by Walker Skeeter

Walker is a 4th year climatology PhD candidate at the University of Delaware. Despite being a climate scientist, Walker has been a NASCAR fan for over 20 years! His favorite drivers are Bubba Wallace, Tyler Reddick, and Alex Bowman in cup, and AJ Allmendinger, Tommy Joe Martins, and Ryan Vargas in Xfinity. Outside of racing, he enjoys talking about (and studying) the weather, watching Baltimore sports, and playing video games.

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