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John Hunter Nemechek won the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Friday night (May 28), securing Kyle Busch Motorsports’ fourth win in as many races on mile-and-a-half tracks in 2021.
Nemechek held off second-place finisher Carson Hocevar, whose last lap charge nearly came to fruition as the two approached the checkered flag. Though the win eluded him, Hocevar still managed to score a career-best finish in his first full time season in the Camping World Truck Series.
Following the victory, Nemechek expressed gratitude to his Kyle Busch Motorsports team after capping off a weekend that had seen Nemechek hit the wall in practice and qualifying rained out.
“Hats off to all my guys,” said Nemechek. “Everyone and all their effort. So thankful and so blessed to be in this spot!”
Hocevar was left optimistic but understandably disappointed by the end result of his late race charge.
“I finally caught him in the last few laps, but it was one or two [laps] too late,” Hocevar explained. “Second place is bittersweet…We’re chipping away at it.”
The race’s major talking point was a massive crash involving Johnny Sauter, Drew Dollar, and Trey Hutchens with only 19 laps to go. Following contact with the wall, Hutchens truck began to drift across the track as Dollar and Sauter approached while battling for track position. Just as Hutchens’ truck approached the middle of the race track, Sauter emerged to the right behind Dollar and found Hutchens in his path.
The resulting impact sheared the right side sheetmetal of Sauter’s Toyota Tundra off down to the roll cage, while Hutchens’ truck came to a stop against the wall near the start/finish line. Sauter’s destroyed truck spent minutes in the infield, window net up, before the arrival of the safety crew. While Sauter was visibly moving in the truck, and radio communication confirmed that he was awake and alert, concern for Sauter’s wellbeing after the impact – which resembled the horror crash involving Memo Gidley and Matteo Malucelli in the 2014 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona – was evident in the voice of every commentator. Sauter declined to interview after being checked and released from the infield care center. Both Dollar and Hutchens were also checked and cleared for release without issue.
With 10 laps to go in stage two, Tanner Gray and Bret Holmes were also involved in a two truck crash. While Gray escaped with only four flat spotted tires, Holmes night was ended by heavy rear end damage from contact with the wall.
Defending series champion Sheldon Creed showed great pace early in the race, and won stage one with ease. Creed would not see the end of stage two. Shortly after the restart from the Gray-Holmes crash, Creed and Todd Gilliland touched in turn 4, which resulted in Creed spinning in front of much of the field. He then slid down the track and collected an innocent Chase Purdy, taking out both trucks.
Nemechek dominated stage two, but chose to pit during this caution to set himself up for the start of the final stage. That allowed Zane Smith to pick up the stage two victory as Austin Wayne Self and Tyler Ankrum spun at the exit of turn 4, without major impact or damage for either truck.
Nemechek swept past Hocevar on lap 70 and pulled out to a decent lead before the elongated final round of pit stops. Following Sauter’s crash, Nemechek held off Hocevar for the win.
Behind Nemechek and Hocevar was Ben Rhodes in third, followed by Stewart Friesen and Todd Gilliland. Chandler Smith recovered from early wall contact to finish sixth, then Ty Majeski in a career-best seventh. Derek Kraus was eighth, while Austin Hill and Smith were ninth and 10th.
Camping World Truck Series teams will take next weekend off before returning to action at Texas Motor Speedway for the SpeedyCash.com 220 on June 12. That race will air live on FOX Sports 1 at 1 p.m. ET.
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