After 95-days, the NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series were back in action Tuesday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Not only did the Truck Series return to action, but it also marked the first time in series history, that a bounty was issued to any Cup driver that could beat Kyle Busch.
GMS driver and Cup veteran, Chase Elliott was able to fend off the All-time win-list leader Kyle Busch to win the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He not only won the race but also claimed the $100,000 bounty that was offered by Kevin Harvick and Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis to any full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver who could beat Busch in the series.
“He was a little better than I was there at the end,” Elliott said after the race. “I got tight. I don’t think we adjusted enough on that last pit stop (on Lap 89). I was a little scared. I really didn’t know exactly what I needed or what these things did as time went on.
“Luckily, the right-front (tire) stayed on it long enough to get to the end. And I think he (Busch) burned out his stuff pretty hard trying to get to me. It was a lot of fun. To be able to come out and outrun him, and him finish second — I’d much rather him finish second than wreck or something, so I feel like I did something right.”
Stage 1: Lap 1 – Lap 30
Before the green-flag dropped a random draw was held earlier this week. As a result of the draw, ThorSport Racing’s Ben Rhodes sat on the pole with Tyler Ankrum on the outside. The stages were broken into 30/30/74 to make up the 134-lap race.
A short green-flag run was seen before a competition caution flew on Lap 15 due to no practice or qualifying. Hattori Racing’s Austin Hill had led the field up until that point. A few drivers including Busch, Tanner Gray, Johnny Sauter, Christian Eckes and a few others pitted. Both Busch and Sauter reported that their splitter was hitting the ground. Under the yellow, Spencer Davis and Austin Wayne Self were penalized for speeding, while Timmy Hill was penalized for too many crewmen over the wall.
Once the stage went back to green with 10 to go, Ross Chastain took the lead from Austin Hill. From there, Chastain went on to take the stage win.
Hill, Zane Smith, Matt Crafton, Ty Majeski, Elliott, Todd Gilliland, Ben Rhodes, Tyler Ankrum, and Brett Moffitt completed the top-10 stage finishers.
Under the stage caution, Timmy Hill was nabbed for speeding and Tanner Gray was caught with too many men over the wall. Before the stage finish, Busch’s right-rear tire was going down.
Stage 2: Lap 37 – Lap 60
When Stage 2 began, we saw new leaders at the front with Zane Smith and Canadian Raphael Lessard on the front row. It didn’t take long though for Elliott to get to the lead who was in the top position at Lap 44. Surprisingly, this stage went caution-free but there were a few drivers who had issues. Reaume Brother’s Jesse Iwuji was black-flagged by NASCAR for not maintaining minimum speed and Bryan Dauzat was also penalized for the same issue.
Elliott went on to claim Stage 2 as Rhodes, Nemechek, Crafton, Busch, Moffitt, Smith, Gilliland, Chastain, and Austin Hill completed the top-10.
Stage 3: Lap 68 – Lap 134
In the final stage, Busch did not lead a single-lap in the race until Lap 69.
Also during the final-stage, Todd Gilliland in the No. 38 had an issue with a tire rub and hit the wall off Turn 4 receiving damage to the left front. Later, Iwuji continued to have problems as he was involved in a wreck with Stewart Friesen and Brennan Poole.
Once the event went back green with 48 to go, another caution was flown as Natalie Decker and Poole were involved in a wreck in Turns 3 and 4. Several laps later Garrett Smithley spun around with 39 to go after caution was called for debris. The last caution of the night would come out for Gilliland as he once again hit the wall off Turn 4.
Before that last caution, however, Crafton would come down pit road for a problem with the No. 88 Truck. It was later reported that the track bar mount had broken. While he was able to get back out, Crafton couldn’t go much higher than 35th in the running order.
After the final restart with 26 to go, Elliott would be back in the lead and was looking for his first Truck Series victory since Martinsville of 2017. It wasn’t easy as Busch was trying all he could to duke it out for the victory.
Ultimately, Elliott fended off Busch’s late-race charge and won by .627 seconds to claim the $100,000 bounty.
Elliott led three-times for 47 laps en-route to the third Truck Series victory of his career.
There were seven cautions for 37 laps and 19 lead changes among 10 different drivers.
- Chase Elliott, won Stage 2, led 47 laps
- Kyle Busch, led 25 laps
- Zane Smith, led 15 laps
- Brett Moffitt, led 2 laps
- Sheldon Creed
- John Hunter Nemechek
- Johnny Sauter
- Ty Majeski
- Austin Hill, led 26 laps
- Ben Rhodes
- Ross Chastain, won Stage 1
- Grant Enfinger
- Tyler Ankrum
- Christian Eckes
- Raphael Lessard
- Derek Kraus
- Tate Fogleman
- Codie Rohrbaugh
- Austin Wayne Self
- Tanner Gray
- Jesse Little
- Timmy Hill
- Angela Ruch, 1 lap down
- Korbin Forrister, 1 lap down
- Spencer Boyd, 1 lap down
- Jennifer Jo Cobb, 1 lap down
- Natalie Decker, 2 laps down
- Bayley Currey, 2 laps down
- Clay Greenfield, 4 laps down
- Stewart Friesen, 4 laps down
- Jordan Anderson, 4 laps down
- Cory Roper, 5 laps down
- T.J. Bell, 7-laps down
- Bryan Dauzat, 14 laps down
- Matt Crafton, 27 laps down
- Garrett Smithley, OUT, Rear-End
- Todd Gilliland, OUT, Crash
- Brennan Poole, OUT, Damage Vehicle Policy
- Jesse Iwuji, OUT, Crash
- Spencer Davis, OUT, Transmission
Up Next: The next time the NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series will be on-track is Saturday, June 6 at Atlanta Motor Speedway live on Fox Sports 1.