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*In a Nutshell:* Nelson Piquet Jr. was the class of the field all day Saturday, winning the pole and running away and hiding during a long green flag run to start the season’s shortest race. But a rash of late-race cautions left the No. 30 vulnerable on a lap 44 restart, allowing Joey Coulter to snag the lead entering turn 1 and driving off to his first career Truck Series victory. James Buescher, Piquet, Matt Crafton and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top 5.
*Who Should Have Won:* Nelson Piquet Jr. Piquet won the pole, he led the most laps, his No. 30 Truck was absolutely untouchable for the first 100 miles of Saturday’s race. Leading 33 laps on the afternoon, Piquet even seemed to be leading a charmed life after narrowly avoiding disaster on lap 34 after contact with Todd Bodine sent the Onion hard into the Long Pond straightaway fence (video cleared Piquet of any wrongdoing). But with the race on the line on a lap 44 restart, Piquet’s No. 30 did not take off fast enough, allowing the No. 22 of Coulter to get underneath his truck entering turn 1. The end result was a third place finish for the No. 30 and another week to wait on a first career Truck victory.
*Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:*
*1) What exactly was Todd Bodine smoking?*
Well, it’s hard to say. As guest commentator Jeff Burton noted when Todd Bodine threw his helmet at Nelson Piquet Jr.’s truck after their lap 34 run-in, one should never take seriously a race car driver’s remarks after a wreck and before they see the video replay. But for Bodine, any hope that the replay would set the record straight went out the window after we has interviewed outside the care center, calling Piquet an idiot for not knowing to move down the track in concert with his No. 11. Bodine, attempting to draft off a truck in front of him, moved down the track after exiting turn 1 and ended up coming across the nose of the No. 30, which replays showed held a consistent line.
When racing in traffic, all one can ask of a fellow competitor is to hold a steady line. And with only 16 laps to go in a sprint race, there’s no rationale whatsoever for a driver to give way to another moving down the track on a straightaway. Score this one as one of the most bone-headed denials of responsibility since Kevin Lepage’s merge into oncoming traffic in the 2008 Talladega Nationwide Series race.
*2) Who was RCR’s biggest winner?*
Joey Coulter will get all the headlines for scoring his first career Truck Series win this Saturday, in doing so returning veteran crew chief Harold Holly to victory lane (Holly has followed Coulter from his family-owned ARCA team to the No. 22). But Ty Dillon pulled a rabbit out of his hat, finishing sixth after his day seemed troubled from the start. Dillon’s No. 3 truck didn’t make it through the exit of turn 1 before slapping the fence, losing a number of positions early after starting on the front row. But Dillon got things straightened out, avoided trouble the rest of the afternoon, and thus was able to take a big bite out of Timothy Peters’ points lead after the No. 17 car spun out on lap 39 trying to pass Matt Crafton in the tunnel turn. The result was heavy front end damage that forced Peters behind the wall for a radiator replacement.
When the dust settled, Dillon left Pocono only eight points behind Peters for the series lead, and now leads all Truck drivers with 10 top 10 finishes on the season. Can the younger Dillon follow up his ARCA title of a season ago with a Truck crown? Mettle like Saturday’s says yes.
*Truck Rookie Report*
*2012 Rookie of the Year Candidates:*
*Dakoda Armstrong* (No. 98)
*Ty Dillon* (No. 3)
*Dusty Davis* (No. 15–not entered at Pocono)
*T.J. Duke* (No. 07–not entered at Pocono)
*Ross Chastain* (No. 08)
*Cale Gale* (No. 33)
*Max Gresham *(No. 24–released from ride)
*Paulie Harraka* (No. 5)
*Caleb Holman* (No. 75–not entered at Pocono; Adam Edwards’ No. 75 was a second Norm Benning Racing truck)
*John King* (No. 7–team suspended)
*Bryan Silas* (No. 99)
*John Wes Townley* (No. 09)
*No. of Rookies in the Race:* 10 (add C.E. Falk, Adam Edwards and Tim George Jr.)
*No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10:* 3; Ty Dillon, finished sixth; John Wes Townley, finished eighth; Ross Chastain, finished 10th (career firsts for both Townley and Chastain)
*Rookie of the Race:* Ty Dillon
*Worth Noting / Points Shuffle*
James Buescher’s red hot summer continued with a runner-up finish at Pocono, moving the season’s wins leader to within 20 points of the points lead, jumping Justin Lofton for third in the standings despite Lofton’s top 10 result.
On the other side of the spectrum was Johnny Sauter, who didn’t even complete the first lap due to a vibration that was so violent it broke the shifter rod according to the driver. The No. 13 team, which had suspected they had possible transmission issues after their qualifying lap earlier Saturday morning, spent much of the afternoon behind the wall making repairs. Sauter’s 27th place finish was his seventh outside the top 20 in only 11 starts in 2012.
Parker Kligerman finished seventh but still fell out of the top 5 in points after Matt Crafton came home fourth.
“The whole time I’ve been racing stock cars, I’ve struggled with restarts, so I’ve worked on that more than anything.” _race winner Joey Coulter on his winning pass_
“The last restart was a bit of a problem. It’s so wide. I didn’t know if I would defend on my left or I would try and keep my line with James [Buescher] ext to me, and it ended up being three-wide in the first corner _Nelson Piquet Jr. on finishing third after leading 34 laps_
“I’ll take the blame for that whole thing just because I should have known better than to trust an idiot to do the right thing. I pulled down to draft off of James [Buescher] and I should have known that Nelson wasn’t smart enough to pull over with me and side-draft me. _Todd Bodine, who finished 26th after lap 34 contact with Nelson Piquet Jr._
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