From the moment the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race started, Darrell (Bubba) Wallace, Jr. drove his truck like it was the last lap of the race. He did that for 160 laps. He had to use that same mentality when it came down to the last three laps of the race and he prevailed. Wallace won the Drivin’ for Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park on Saturday night.
Cole Custer was on the pole position for this race after he qualified at a record setting pace with a lap of 136.426. He became the youngest NASCAR national series pole winner at the age of 16 years, 4 months and 22 days. He lost the lead on the first lap to Wallace, Jr. but kept up with him for a few circuits in the second position.
Wallace, Jr. led the first 62 laps of the race but a bad pit stop but him back into the 12th position. The right rear tire wasn’t tightened on the truck. The jackman dropped the jack and Wallace tried to speed out of his pitbox but the tire jammed in the wheel well and caused right rear damage. The crew had to fix the damage and re-hang the tire which cost him 12 spots on the track.
John Hunter Nemechek took over the lead at his point with last year’s champion, Matt Crafton, hot on his heels. Crafton would take the lead from Nemechek on lap 124 and immediately hit the wall out of turn four. It appeared his truck just wouldn’t turn and he violently hit the wall. The driver was ok, but the truck was done for the night.
The restart after this caution found Wallace back in contention and battling for the lead with John Hunter Nemechek. Wallace, Jr. would take the lead after a rather eventful two laps. Wallace, Jr. got a good restart but Nemechek wouldn’t back down. From the third spot, Erik Jones tried for position and made it a three-wide battle. As they came out of turn four, Nemechek got a little loose and slipped back and fell into the third spot.
German Quiroga then took Nemechek to task with 26 laps to go for the third spot. The pair would battle side-by-side for 12 laps and contact between the two would eventually cut down Nemechek’s left rear tire. He spun and brought out a caution. That would put Nemechek to the 16th spot after running in the top ten for most of the race.
It wasn’t over yet.
Teammates Wallace, Jr. and Jones were fighting for the top spot and Jones was able to sneak by Wallace to get the lead with eight laps remaining. With seven to go, Wallace, Jr. attempted to block Quiroga coming to the line and Jones, Wallace, Jr. and Quiroga took it three-wide into turn one. Jones took the lead on the high groove and Quiroga passed Wallace, Jr. on the inside. As they came out of turn two, Jones bobbled and Quiroga tagged Jones’ left rear bumper which sent him spinning into the infield. The caution came out with only six laps left.
The race would restart with only three laps to go with Wallace, Jr. and Quiroga on the front row. Quiroga was shown as the race leader and chose the inside lane. Wallace, Jr. and Quiroga were side-by-side on the restart and even had contact coming down the backstretch. That didn’t slow down Wallace, Jr. but Quiroga had to check up. Wallace, Jr. had the lead. Quiroga would close in and get right on Wallace, Jr.’s bumper but he ran out of laps. Wallace, Jr. won the race.
This was Wallace Jr.’s second win out of 29 starts in the NCWTS.
The top ten: Darrell (Bubba) Wallace, Jr., German Quiroga, Timothy Peters, Johnny Sauter, Ron Hornaday, Jr., Cole Custer, Ryan Blaney, John Wes Townley, Chase Pistone, and Tayler Malsam.
The next NCWTS race will be Thursday, June 26 for the UNOH 225 at 8 p.m. ET at Kentucky Speedway.