The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has been dominated by Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) the last three races, and it was much the same in the Toyota Care 250. John Hunter Nemechek won his second race of the season, leading a race-high 114 laps, just ahead of truck owner Kyle Busch, while a third KBM truck. with Chandler Smith behind the wheel, finished fourth.
Nemechek's win was No. 84 for KBM and his margin of victory was 0.307-seconds. Grant Enfinger won the opening stage, but Nemechek closed the gap rather quickly after starting P18. He was right behind Enfinger at the green checkers. But the No. 4 Tundra was the class of the field the rest of the way. To prove how good he was, Nemechek was outside the top ten on the final restart and only had to hold off Busch for the victory.
Rounding out the top 10 were Tyler Ankrum (P3), Johnny Sauter (P5), Todd Gilliland, Ben Rhodes (started on the pole), Grant Enfinger, Sam Mayer, and Austin Hill.
Nemechek not only leads the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the standings, but he also has to be the favorite to win the championship. After an unimpressive year, he left the Cup Series with just three top 10s in 36 starts and wanted to reset by returning to the trucks. where he had a solid resume. Landing with KBM has allowed him to show he is a better driver than what people saw of him in the premier series. Right now, he has five top 10s in six races.
Two drivers had to start in the back of the field: Josh Reaume (No. 34) for unapproved adjustments and Ryan Reed (No. 49) for a driver change. NASCAR did not have a competition caution for this race.
Taylor Gray was slated to make his first NASCAR national series start in the race but was involved in an accident where he suffered broken bones in his leg and foot. The 16-year old has started 26 races across three ARCA Menards divisions with 15 top 5s and 24 top 10s. Last year, he scored his first victory in the ARCA West Series at All American Speedway in Roseville, CA. Taylor’s brother Tanner was in the No. 15 for Team DGR.
Here's how the NASCAR Toyota Care 250 played out – 250 laps (187.5 miles).
NASCAR Toyota Care 250 Stage 1
Ben Rhodes (pole – 2 wins) and Austin Hill led 40 trucks to the green flag. Rhodes led the first lap, but teammate Grant Enfinger (No. 98) would pass him on Lap 3. Kyle Busch (No. 51) started P12 and was P4 by Lap 35. KBM teammate John Hunter Nemechek (No. 4), went from P18 to P6.
The first stage ended at Lap 70 with Enfinger taking the green/white checkers, his first of 2021. He won at Richmond last September. Second through tenth were Nemechek, Busch, Rhodes, Hill, Carson Hocevar, Raphael Lessard, Todd Gilliland, Derek Kraus, Stewart Friesen. Nemechek passed Busch at Lap 57 and pulled away, closing to within 0.02 of Enfinger at the stripe.
In the race off pit row, Busch picked up two spots and was first out. KMB teammates Nemechek and Chandler Smith were third and eighth, respectively. Enfinger restarted P2.
NASCAR Toyota Care 250 Stage 2
Tate Fogleman (No. 12) and Ryan Truex (No. 40) are only trucks out. Lap 100 Nemechek takes the lead before Jennifer Jo Cobb brings out the caution. Cobb, a NASCAR Truck Series veteran, will make her first Cup Series debut at Talladega.
On the restart Lap 105, Nemechek pulls away, and by the halfway point of the race (Lap 125), he opened up a two-second advantage over runner-up Enfinger. He would win the second stage by twice that. He has won six of the dozen stages in the NASCAR Truck Series this season. Rounding out the top ten were Enfinger, Rhodes, Hill, Busch, Zane Smith, Lessard, Gilliland, Kraus, Smith. 18-year old Sam Mayer started P40, and after 140 laps, he was P12.
NASCAR Toyota Care 250 Final Stage
Brett Moffitt went to the garage with mechanical issues. After pit stops, teams would have just one set of tires in reserve for the final 100 laps. Nemechek was easily the first one out to retain his lead. A series of cautions would follow on Laps 154, 161, 167, 178, 183, and 197. Cobb was involved in a pair of yellow flags and was parked for being unable to maintain minimum speed under damaged vehicle policy. She was also called to the NASCAR trailer to meet with officials.
The Lap 197 caution saw the leaders pit to take on their final sets of rubber. Nemechek maintains the top spot, with the biggest winner off pit row being Derek Kraus picking up five spots to P7; however, he took just two tires. Kyle Busch was second out, picking up one position. Were KBM teammates going to fight it out to the end?
What changed the dynamic of the race was Crafton, Johnny Sauter, Smith, Danny Bohn, Ankrum, Austin Wayne Self, Hill, and Spencer Davis stayed out. Nemechek and Busch would restart ninth and tenth, respectively, at Lap 209 (41 to go). It took one lap for Chandler Smith, on old tires, to take the point. Nemechek up to P4 and Busch to P6 when caution No. 11 happened. With 29 to go, the top 10 were Smith, Sauter, Ankrum, Nemechek, Crafton, Busch, Gilliland, Hocevar, Rhodes, and Self.
In one lap, all three Kyle Busch Motorsports trucks were 1-2-3, all within one second of each other. But Smith would fade to third on older tires after Nemechek passed him for the lead and would take the checkered flag for his second win of 2021.