TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek was on the brink of an early exit from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs after he was caught up in a wreck roughly halfway through the running of the Fred’s 250. But he weaved his way through a multi-truck wreck with roughly 20 laps remaining and took advantage of the trucks caught up in the final-lap melee to claim a sixth-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway.
Entering the day, Nemechek occupied the bottom Playoff spot. The early misfortune of Kaz Grala and Chase Briscoe, combined with a seventh-place finish in both the first and second stage, put him in excellent position to race his way in.
Unfortunately for him, restrictor plate racing is rarely that simple.
Entering Turn 3 with 35 laps to go, Ben Rhodes ran into the left-rear corner of Clay Greenfield’s truck. This sent him sliding down the track into the path of Matt Crafton, who rammed into and further turned Greenfield around.
Nemechek, who was riding behind and ran into the back of Crafton at one point, found himself trapped when Greenfield’s car slid back up the banking. He made contact with Greenfield’s truck, which forced him up into the left-front corner panel of Regan Smith, and spun down the track and into the grass.
Despite the damage, Nemechek’s team kept him in the race and on the lead lap.
He was riding behind the Lap 71 melee that collected five cars. He used just about all of the apron near the start/finish line as the hole to cleanly get through the wreck quickly closed.
He worked his way to 13th when Austin Wayne Self’s spin in Turn 4 forced overtime.
Nemechek jumped up to the top lane with two laps to go, but the top line was in disarray after race leader Parker Kligerman jumped to the bottom.
While it denied him a chance to steal the victory, it put him back far enough that when the race-ending Big One broke out in Turn 1 on the final lap, he just drove right through it and finished sixth.
“I’m pretty sure that we were in almost every wreck there was today,” Nemechek said. “I just can’t thank all my guys enough. They never gave up. My pit crew was awesome at fixing the truck. We got stage points. We accomplished everything that we wanted to, except for winning stages and winning the race. I would’ve much rather had Christopher (Bell) stay running up front, being uneventful.”
Nemechek leaves fourth in points, trailing Bell by 33.