OBSERVATIONS: Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville Speedway
“Tick Tock, We Got A Clock.”
Four races in the books for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and the fans haven’t been left disappointed yet by the action on track.
As typically expected with Martinsville Speedway, the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 was filled with close quarter action and even if the final stretch of the event had run without a caution, it was bound to be a barn burner as Todd Gilliland had began to close the gap on Kyle Benjamin. That said, thanks to a big piece of pipe laying on the track, the yellow flag flew with less than 40 laps to go.
The result? Pure chaos. Three-wide competition throughout the whole field, bumping and banging off each other – but with nobody actually getting turned around.
John Hunter Nemechek has shown that he can get the job done in the clutch of the moment and snag an unexpected win – recall Canadian Tire Motorsports Park anybody? He once again proved his ability as a driver, as his attack on the restart with 31 laps to go was everything. While Gilliland and Benjamin looked set to battle, Nemechek snuck underneath both drivers going into the turn, eventually passing them both. From being well-timed to set-up and executed, it was the perfect move that you can’t discount no matter how you look at it.
Nemechek’s situation is unique this year. He is splitting a ride in the NASCAR XFINITY Series with Kyle Larson, while running whatever truck races do not conflict. Despite showing countless talent, sponsorship hasn’t ever come easy for the 20-year-old. If he was able to get some funding to a full schedule – whether XFINITY or Truck, there’s no question he’d be a championship contender.
You can’t discount Nemechek’s closest competition, either. Benjamin was able to get back to Nemechek’s bumper and certainly a little harder hit or couple more laps and we may have a different story on our hands. You have to credit Benjamin for his poise shown, as he could’ve just wrecked the No. 8 Chevrolet to get himself to victory lane – but chose the respectful route instead.
By the way, Monday’s race was Benjamin’s series debut with a first year team – DGR-Crosby Racing. Not a bad beginning for either party. The 20-year-old said he hoped he earned himself more chances behind the wheel with his performance – don’t worry, you did.
While the youngsters impressed, the veterans were unable to be up front as expected. Past winners Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter each ran inside the top-10, but neither were a factor for the victory and ultimately found themselves out of winning contention due to other problems. Sauter suffered from battery issues with the No. 21 truck stalling off the corner at one point, with Crafton getting heavy damage as he ran into the back of Sauter then.
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