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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: William Byron Notches 2nd Consecutive Win

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In a Nutshell: William Byron went back-to-back with a victory over Cole Custer in Saturday night’s Speediatrics 200 at Iowa Speedway. Byron overcame a pit road stumble on his final stop, and with the help of a couple of late-race cautions, recovered to score his third win of the season. Cameron Hayley, Ben Rhodes and Tyler Reddick rounded out the top 5.

Who Should Have Won: When the green flag flew on lap 54 following the first caution, William Byron wasted no time showing the strength of his No. 9 Toyota. Grabbing the top spot from the outside of the front row on that restart, Byron held the lead for the next 98 laps until a little pit strategy by a handful of teams, combined with a stall on pit road under the third caution saw him restart 11th. But four fresh tires and a couple cautions to close out the race gave Byron what he needed to work through the field before making the winning pass in an epic three-wide battle with just nine laps remaining.

Race Rundown

John Hunter Nemechek’s Race Spoiled By Single Lug Nut

John Hunter Nemechek started on the pole for Saturday night’s Speediatrics 200 at Iowa Speedway and looked like he was well on the way to a second win this season, leading the first 53 laps before relinquishing the top spot to William Byron on the restart following the first caution. But Nemechek remained inside the top 5 for much of the rest of the race until the final pit stop of the night.

Nemechek came off of pit road under the third caution in sixth, behind a top 5 that had only taken two tires in an effort to score track position and a potential win and Chase berth. But before the green flag flew again, the driver of the No. 8 Chevrolet was back down on pit road to tighten a lug nut on the right rear after only four were hit on his stop. He restarted 20th and was only able to work his way to 12th before the checkered flag flew.

Sure it’s not the win that Nemechek had hoped for, especially after scoring the pole just a few hours before the race. But the fact of the matter is that the lost positions on the race track, especially given the race win the No. 8 team already has, is a much smaller cost than the monetary fine and having crew chief Gere Kennon suspended next week at Gateway Motorsports Park.

After all, NASCAR has already proven over the last few weeks that it’s not playing games with the lug nuts by implementing a mandatory check at the conclusion of each race that has ultimately resulted in fines and suspensions.

Tommy Joe Martins Unloads on Twitter

Just a day after writing a post on his own website about relevance and running on a minuscule budget in NASCAR, Tommy Joe Martins found himself in the center of the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. After contact from Derek Scott, Jr., Martins spun hard into the outside wall, causing terminal damage to the No. 44 Chevrolet which ultimately finished 30th.

Once the checkered flag flew, Martins unloaded on Twitter, revealing the pure emotion that hit him as he looked at his severely damaged truck before taking the mandatory ride to the infield care center.

That string of tweets right there is the example of pure emotion and passion. The wreck amounted to Martins being dumped, and he’s well aware of the cost of the damage and wondering whether he’ll have a ride from week to week.

Perhaps the most admirable part to come out of the whole rant is that Martins did acknowledge he reacted out of anger, though he didn’t back down and delete his posts, especially in a NASCAR world that’s so afraid of offending a potential financial backer.

Quick Hits:

  • William Byron absolutely belongs in the championship conversation if he wasn’t after last weekend’s impressive run at Texas Motor Speedway. Byron’s three wins match those of 2015 Rookie of the Year and champion Erik Jones, who didn’t even score his first victory until Iowa in the ninth race last season. That’s not to say Byron is a lock to the win the championship – that would be just crazy. But if he hasn’t hit your list of legitimate title contenders, it’s time to add him.
  • Byron also surpassed a personal record at Iowa Speedway Saturday night. Prior to the Speediatrics 200, the driver of the No. 9 had a prior career-high 80 laps at Dover just a few weeks ago en route to an 11th-place finish. But come Iowa, Byron led a race-high 107 circuits.
  • Just a week removed from scoring a solid fourth-place finish in his Truck Series return, German Quiroga was once again tapped to pilot the No. 11 Toyota. Originally a slated date for Matt Tifft, Red Horse Racing pulled Quiroga in when Tifft was sidelined earlier this week to nurse a back injury. After starting 25th, he went on to finish 14th.
  • Parker Kligerman and Ricky Benton Racing took a major hit at Iowa Speedway. Without sponsorship for the full season, the No. 92 truck has already exceeded expectations this year, but the run of consecutive races ends at Iowa. Just as the caution clock was getting ready to expire, Kligerman suffered a cut tire, a spin and a hard hit that brought extensive, terminal damage to the small team’s truck. Kligerman was credited with a 31st-place result and will remain sidelined until Kentucky Speedway in early July.

Truck Rookie Report
2016 Rookie of the Year Candidates
No. 00 Cole Custer
No. 4 Christopher Bell
No. 9 William Byron
No. 18 Cody Coughlin
No. 22 Austin Wayne Self
No. 33 Grant Enfinger
No. 41 Ben Rhodes
No. 98 Rico Abreu

No. of Rookies in the Race: 14 (add Brandon Brown, Claire Decker, Nick Drake, Kaz Grala, Jake Griffin, Tommy Joe Martins and debuting drivers Derek Scott, Jr. and Casey Smith)

No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 4; William Byron, finished first; Cole Custer, finished second; Ben Rhodes, finished fourth; Christopher Bell, finished 10th.

Rookie of the Race: winner William Byron

2016 Chase Qualifiers:

Johnny Sauter (Daytona)
John Hunter Nemechek (Atlanta)
William Byron (Kansas, Texas, Iowa)
Matt Crafton (Dover & Charlotte)

Quotable:

“Finally a good run! Top 3 after a long hard fought week at ThorSport! Could not be more proud of everything this company has accomplished after the fire.” Cameron Hayley, finished third

“Man, that was just really tough. We really needed to be on the outside to keep our momentum up. I’m really proud of all of our guys on the Alpha Energy Solutions Toyota Tundra tonight. They have worked their butts off all week after the fire at ThorSport (Racing). We only had two trucks tonight and we only have two trucks for the next race so it’s really hard to try to race for a win and have that in your mind. After Kansas this year we had that wreck and we were kind of playing it safe for the rest of the races, protecting our trucks, being cautious at Charlotte, being cautious at Texas. We had this date circled on our calendar for a long time but unfortunate the circumstances but man, it was a really fun race tonight and I can’t thank these guys enough for all they’ve done for me.” Ben Rhodes, finished fourth

Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series heads to Gateway Motorsports Park next Saturday night. The Drivin’ For Linemen 200 will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET and can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiriusXM channel 90.

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