In a Nutshell: Kyle Busch scored his third win this season when he emerged victorious in Wednesday night’s UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The field waited out a rain delay of more than two-hours before taking the green flag. Matt Crafton finished second, followed by John Hunter Nemechek. Grant Enfinger and Ben Rhodes rounded out the top five.
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Who Should Have Won: Busch started on the pole, breaking a track record along the way, and he didn’t look back, leading the first 61 laps and winning the first two stages. That’s when a pit road speeding penalty dropped him to the back of the field. But with 33 laps remaining, he had run down and passed then-leader Crafton and never looked back, despite an overtime finish after the caution flew with five laps remaining.
Grant Enfinger Recovers From Michigan Penalty
Leaving Michigan International Speedway last weekend, rookie Grant Enfinger found himself 24 points behind the cutoff line to make the playoffs in his first full season.
But to make matters worse, his team was hit with a pair of penalties following the LTi Printing 200. The No. 98 team was nailed under Section 188.8.131.52.1.2 Post-Race Front Body Inspection Heights outside NASCAR allowed tolerances and Section 184.108.40.206 Overall Vehicle Weight affixed improperly.
The height violation resulted in an encumbered finish, along with a loss of 10 owner and driver points. Additionally, crew chief Jeff Hensley was fined $5,000 and suspended for one race. The weight violation resulted in a two-race suspension for Hensley and truck chief Josh Hankish. NASCAR will allow Hensley to serve both suspensions concurrently.
Meanwhile, Bud Haefele stepped in to serve as interim crew chief for Enfinger. After starting seventh, the driver of the No. 98 Toyota remained inside the top 10 for much of the race before ending up fourth.
“We had a decent restart there at the end and we really had a good Champion Power Equipment Tundra all day,” Enfinger said. “We weren’t great. The 46 (Kyle Busch) – he’s really good at this racing stuff. He made us all look bad. But a solid run for us. We’ll take it.
“We need a little bit more but very very proud of everybody on this ThorSport Racing Tundra. Had to battle through some adversity this weekend, but we still got some more to come so we’ll keep fighting strong.”
Enfinger scored 41 points, including 14 for stage finishes inside the top 10. His strong run, combined with those stage points moved him within nine markers of the cutoff line for the playoff field with just two races remaining.
But I’d venture to guess it still stings to know he’d be above the playoff cutoff line without that penalty.
John Hunter Nemechek Continues Bristol Success
Just four laps into last week’s race at Michigan International Speedway, John Hunter Nemechek suffered a hard hit that took him out of the race. The crash marked his fourth DNF of the season and dropped him to seventh in the point standings.
Fast forward to Bristol, and you can understand why the driver of the No. 8 Chevrolet looked forward to returning to the short track. After all, his previous three finishes at the half-mile oval were sixth, third and eighth.
And when the field took the green, Nemechek didn’t disappoint. He started 14th and was forced to work his way through the field on a track that proved hard to pass for most drivers early on. When the checkered flag flew, the driver of the No. 8 crossed the line in third in a truck adorned by a new sponsor in Plan B Sales.
“We started off bottoming out really bad,” Nemechek said after the checkered flag flew. “We had to work on it from the time we got here, but it all worked out.
“I’m kinda glad it rained; it took some of the sticky stuff off the bottom and there at the end we were able to move up. Solid run coming home third. We keep preparing really fast race trucks; we just have to be smart and finish races, and that’s what we did tonight.”
The third-place finish marks his fourth consecutive top-10 result at Bristol, and while he hasn’t visited Victory Lane at the short track, it’s still likely one of his favorite places to race each year.
- For those of you that tune out the Truck Series any time Kyle Busch runs, you have no excuse the rest of the season. Wednesday night’s run at Bristol marks his final start for the 2017 season.
- Darrell Wallace Jr.’s victory at Michigan International Speedway was deemed encumbered under Section 12.10 (encumbered for vent holes at the bed top must be configured for air intake only) of the NASCAR Rulebook. MDM Motorsports lost 10 owner points, while crew chief Shane Huffman was fined $5,000 and suspended for one race. Brandon Jones was back in the No. 99 truck for Bristol and finished 10th after starting fifth.
- Post-race inspection cleared at Bristol Motor Speedway with NASCAR opting not to take any trucks back to the R&D center. Harrison Burton’s No. 51 and JJ Yeley’s No. 83 were each found with one loose lugnut, which should result in a fine come penalty day next week.
- Despite a two-hour rain delay, NASCAR opted not to slow the field for a competition caution. The first yellow flew on lap 25 when Josh Reaume appeared to lose a right side tire. While there was a significant amount of wear on the tires throughout practice and the race, the lack of a competition caution turned out to be a non-issue.
Truck Rookie Report
2017 Rookie of the Year Candidates
No. 13 Cody Coughlin
No. 18 Noah Gragson
No. 19 Austin Cindric
No. 24 Justin Haley
No. 29 Chase Briscoe
No. 33 Kaz Grala
No. 49 Wendell Chavous
No. 52 Stewart Friesen
No. 98 Grant Enfinger
No. of rookies in the race: 9
No. of rookies to finish in the top 10: 2; Grant Enfinger, finished fourth; Austin Cindric, finished ninth
Rookie of the Race: Enfinger
Points Update: Christopher Bell maintains his point lead, this time by 42 over Johnny Sauter. Matt Crafton remains third, followed by Chase Briscoe. Ben Rhodes rounds out the top five. Ryan Truex sits sixth, followed by Grant Enfinger and John Hunter Nemechek. Noah Gragson and Justin Haley round out the top 10.
Playoffs Update: Christopher Bell, John Hunter Nemechek, Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton and Kaz Grala are all in the playoffs with at least one win apiece.
Despite struggling with his truck, Chase Briscoe expanded his margin to 91 points over the cutoff line. Ben Rhodes sits 26 points ahead of the cutoff, while Ryan Truex, who struggled with handling most of the night has a slim nine-point cushion. Grant Enfinger finds himself nine points on the wrong side of the cutoff, while Noah Gragson and Austin Cindric are 34 and 55 markers behind, respectively.
“I knew once we got that penalty that I had to go somewhere other than where everybody else was. I just started grooming the top and it took about 15 laps for it to come in and then it started going. It was pretty fast. Can’t say enough about all these guys on this Banfield Pet Hospital Tundra. It was awesome. It was awesome when we unloaded.
“Everybody at KBM, they obviously do a fantastic job. All the guys and girls and everybody that works on these things make them so fast and make them as fast as they are. Appreciate all the fans as well. I know it’s a late night – everybody watching at home, everybody here. It was a lot of fun to come through the field like that. It kind of gave me some ideas about the rest of the week. Probably showed a bunch of stuff too, but that’s what it’s all about man. This is the start of a triple, so hopefully we can get it.” Kyle Busch
“It was a really really good race. The bottom was definitely a little preferred, but you could move around. You could at least run the second and third groove and weren’t like we were in practice, we were literally a second off the pace if you had moved off the bottom. Props to the track for what they did right there, it made some great racing I feel. I just wish we could’ve run that out cause we were running him down there at the end especially when he was in lapped traffic. He picked me in lapped traffic earlier so it was my turn there at the end, but just couldn’t quite get there whenever the yellow came out.” Matt Crafton, finished second
“The Safeway Tundra was fast all night tonight. We got back pretty far back in the field and I was actually pretty proud of our team and how good of a Tundra we had to be able to drive from 14th to I think fourth all during a green flag run. You know unfortunately the balance actually shifted on us. The track changed a lot in that last run.
“Overall happy. It was a good solid points night. We were running in front of the guys that we needed to beat all night long so that’s a big plus and I know that makes my guys happy and proud. We’re going to take this momentum and just keep moving forward.” Ben Rhodes, finished fifth
Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series takes a weekend off before heading north of the border to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park on Sunday, Sept. 3. Last year, John Hunter Nemechek narrowly beat out Cole Custer in a thrilling battle to the checkers. Coverage for the Chevrolet Silverado 250 begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiruisXM NASCAR Channel 90.