Iowa Speedway was the site for the ninth race of the 2017 season. The race featured a variety of pit strategies and a back to back winner.
1. John Hunter Nemechek – Nemechek started the race in the fifth position, but quickly fell back in the early going. In Stage 1, he finished in the seventh position. Stage 2 was a better turnout for Nemechek, however, as he worked his way up and finished third. When a late race caution fell, the race leader Sauter stayed out, when the rest of the field, including Nemechek, pitted. Nemechek took four tires on the last pit stop. It wasn’t until six laps to go when he made the pass for the win on Sauter. He would go on to win his second race of the year and it was the first time he went back to back.
“That’s definitely special,” Nemechek said. “All year, we felt really good about this whole stretch, Gateway, Iowa and Kentucky. So hopefully, we can go to Kentucky and make it three in a row.” Nemechek led once for six laps.
2. Johnny Sauter – Sauter had the truck to beat but in this case he was beaten on a final restart with six laps remaining. After starting fourth, Sauter stayed in the top five for Stage 1 by finishing third. In Stage 2, however, Sauter dominated by taking the lead on Lap 116 and went on to win the second stage. Although, when the late race caution came out with 13 to go, Sauter and his team elected to stay out. This would be costly as he would lose the lead with six to go and finish second.
“Yeah, you know, obviously, tires prevail here, but we made a great call,” Sauter said. Chase (Briscoe) actually took me to school there. That kid is a hell of a wheelman.”
Sauter continues to lead the point standings by 42 points over Christopher Bell.
3. Brandon Jones – Jones was quiet all night until late in the going. It wasn’t until Stage 2, where he finished 10th. Along with the rest of the field, Jones pitted late and took fresher tires. He would rally to finish third, giving him his first top-five of the year.
“I feel like our Soleus Air Chevy was a strong truck from the drop of the green flag tonight,” Jones said. “Track position was key the whole race, and it got to where you really couldn’t pass anyone once the field strung out. Shane Huffman made a great call to take four tires there with a handful laps left and that was really the difference that let us get up there in the mix. If we would’ve had just a few more laps, I think we definitely could’ve had something for them.”
4. Grant Enfinger – Enfinger had another decent run this season. He started in the 10th position, stayed around for Stage 1 by finishing ninth. In Stage 2, Enfinger fell outside the top 10. Toward the end of Stage 3, it brought some controversy between Thorsport Racing teammates. Enfinger had accidentally bumped Matt Crafton in Turn 4, thus sending Crafton hard into the wall and ending his night. However, Enfinger went on to finish a solid fourth, but not the best fourth place finish.
“Yeah I mean, I’m just embarrassed,” Enfinger said. “I was going for the bottom and I thought he (Matt Crafton) was going to go in the middle, and I just came down, it was completely my fault. I mean I just ran him over. I feel terrible.”
5. Christopher Bell – Bell was a contender throughout most of the night. He would go on to sweep Stage 1. Bell led early in Stage 2, before handing the lead over to Johnny Sauter on Lap 116. Bell went on to finish fourth in Stage 2. After leading early in the race, Bell had to settle for a fifth place finish.
“We had really fast Toyota Tundra, man”, Bell said. “Out front, it was just lights out- we were really, really good and on the short run too, but the long run was where we excelled. I don’t know man,” Bell continued, “It’s so tough to pass whenever it’s on the bottom and, finally, the top came in and then we could finally start passing guys, but still it’d take way too long to pass them and then- but the yellow came out and that gave us a shot at it and just didn’t work out.”
Bell continues to be second in the point standings 42 points behind Sauter.
The race featured four cautions for 34 laps, with five leaders among six lead changes.There is no NASCAR Camping World Truck Series action next weekend as the series is off, but the action returns to Kentucky Speedway Thursday, July 6.