It is Memorial Day weekend, and that means action at NASCAR’s home in Charlotte. With all three series holding races this weekend, the Camping World Truck Series kicked things off Friday night for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. John Hunter Nemechek took control in the third stage to pick up his third race win of the 2021 season.
Sheldon Creed, who won at Darlington Raceway three weeks ago, blazed his way toward the front after getting past pole starter Todd Gilliland. Creed cruised his way to win stage 1, leading all 30 laps and won the stage by nearly two seconds ahead of Gilliland. It was Creed’s first stage win of the season.
Since Creed and Gilliland won the last two races, they were competing for an extra $50,000 in the last race of the “Triple Truck Challenge.”
In between the stages, Gilliland and Nemechek won the race off pit road, dropping Creed to third place.
To start stage two, Nemechek took the lead over Creed and Gilliland. Zane Smith worked his way into the top three, leading over Gilliland. Johnny Sauter and Chandler Smith collided, causing damage for two drivers that are fringe playoff contenders.
After a caution, Gilliland turned Creed on the restart, bringing out the caution and ending Creed’s day early. This is the first DNF of the season for Creed. Gilliland dropped to 15th and Nemechek pitted with three laps left in stage 2, pushing Smith to the lead on the restart.
Smith held off Austin Hill to win stage 2 on a one-lap restart, his first stage win in the 2021 season. However, Smith suffered a penalty on pit road for a crew member going over the wall too soon. Carson Hocevar and Stewart Friesen restarted on the front row after pitting during the Creed caution instead of the stage break.
Despite Friesen and Christian Eckes holding the lead in the first lap of the final stage, it was Nemechek who reasserted control of the race with a daring move on the bottom to pass Friesen and Eckes for the lead.
As Nemechek led, Sauter and Drew Dollar wrecked into Trey Hutchens, bringing out a caution with under 20 laps to go.
As the race restarted with 10 laps to go, Hocevar tried to track down Nemechek, but just fell about half-a-second short for his career best finish (second place).
Nemechek, who was the overall truck series points leader coming into Friday’s race, picked up his third win of the 2021 season. Nemechek won the final race of the “Triple Truck Challenge,” earning an extra $50,000. It is the sixth win in 10 races for Kyle Busch Motorsports this season in the truck series.
Ben Rhodes finished third to pick up his fifth top-five finish of the 2021 season. Friesen finished fourth for his second top-five finish in 2021. Gilliland finished fifth after recovering from his wreck with Creed.
Chandler Smith finished sixth and Ty Majeski finished seventh to pick up a top-10 finish in his first race of the season.
Derek Kraus finished eighth for his second top-10 finish in 2021.
Hill finished ninth and Smith rounded out the top 10. Smith, despite being a championship four driver last season, has still yet to pick up a top-five finish this season.
The Camping World Truck Series will head to Texas Motor Speedway for the SpeedyCash.com 220 on June 12.