Martin Truex Jr. Dominates First Truck Race On Dirt At Bristol Motor Speedwayby Hunter Thomas March 29, 2021 0 comments
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Martin Truex Jr. dominated Monday’s Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway by sweeping all three stages.
Truex, who is pulling double duty on Monday, started 15th in the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota. He raced up front all afternoon long and led a race high of 105 laps. The win is his first in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Truex entered the race so that he could get track time and become more familiar with the racing surface prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race.
“It’s unbelievable really,” Truex said. “I guess they had to put dirt on Bristol to get me back into victory lane here. It’s been a long time. That was a blast. I’m still really surprised. I wanted to run this race so I could get more experience for the Cup car, and then we got out there in practice and it felt really good and I was having a lot of fun, so I just kept trying to work with the guys and tell them what I needed, and just thanks to Auto Owners, Noble Aerospace, Toyota, TRD, everybody at KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) for letting me drive this thing and putting this deal together.”
Early in the race, Truex battled Sheldon Creed for the lead, but as the 150-lap progressed, he had to hold off ThorSport Racing’s Ben Rhodes and Grant Enfinger. With only 12 laps to go in Monday’s race, Truex had to hold Rhodes at bay on the final restart of the day. When the field took the green flag, Rhodes missed a shift, and Truex easily defended the lead as he went on to win the first Truck race on dirt in Bristol.
Rhodes brought his No. 99 Bombardier LearJet 75 Toyota home in the second position. The runner-up effort marks his third top-two finish of the season. After winning the first two races of the season at Daytona, Rhodes, finished 10th at Las Vegas and 16th at Atlanta, so Monday’s effort served as a solid boost for the team.
“We were running him (Martin Truex Jr.) back down those last few laps, but yeah, just the worst restart of my life,” Rhodes said. “Early in the race, I had an issue of getting it into fourth gear, and missed a shift early on and really didn’t think anything of it. I had clean shifts afterwards, and then just missed it. Bummer for my guys. That is as close as I’ve been at Bristol to winning here and it was on the dirt, so they gave me a great Bombardier Tundra. I’m just a little angry at myself.”
Raphael Lessard finished third. Todd Gilliland and Chase Briscoe rounded out the top-five. Completing the top-10 was Enfinger, Zane Smith, Parker Kligerman, Austin Hill and Austin Wayne Smith.
There were 11 lead changes among six drivers. Throughout the afternoon, there were 12 cautions for 56 laps.
One of the larger accidents occurred on lap 50, when John Hunter Nemechek spun in Turn 1 after contact from Matt Crafton. Derek Krause also spun and slammed the front of Nemechek’s truck that was stopped backwards on the high side. Veteran series competitor, Timothy Peters was involved as well. Frustrated, Nemechek climbed from his truck and gestured at Crafton as he rode by. While Nemechek was displaying his displeasure, a track safety truck slid down the embankment and hit Nemechek’s truck, pushing it into the inside wall. The red flag was displayed for 7 minutes and 7 seconds while track crews cleaned up fluid on the track.
On Lap 100, Kyle Larson ran into the back of Mike Marlar who was slow on the high side. Marlar was being lapped by the field, and Larson could not slow down in time to avoid hitting him. Brett Moffitt and Danny Bohn were also involved. The red flag was displayed for five minutes and 17 seconds.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will visit Richmond Raceway on Saturday, April 17 for the ToyotaCare 250. Live coverage will broadcast on FS1 and MRN at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com