Nemechek holds off boss man Busch for Pocono victory

In a late-race duel following a restart with six laps to go, John Hunter Nemechek, with help from a push by Todd Gilliland, got past team owner Kyle Busch to take the lead and win at Pocono Raceway.  

Busch tried to rally back within the closing laps, but Sheldon Creed got underneath Busch which caused both trucks to get loose and slide up the track. Nemechek pulled ahead to a two-second lead and won for the fifth time this season.

The Mooresville native spoke to FOX Sports 1 after the race in victory lane.

“These guys just work so hard,” Nemechek said of his team. “We never gave up. We weren’t very good the first stage. Without this opportunity—without Kyle and Toyota, I wouldn’t have had it. Five wins this year and beat Kyle—three for five against Kyle is pretty good odds.”

This was the last Truck Series race of the 2021 season for Busch and his last race with sponsor Cessna/Beechcraft. He led 20 laps and challenged for the win late, but after the incident with Sheldon Creed, Busch had to settle for his fifth top-five of the season.

Meanwhile, Busch was in his last race of the 2021 Truck Series season where he led 20 laps and challenged for the win late. But after the incident with Sheldon Creed, Busch had to settle for his fifth top-five of the season.

“I don’t know (what happened there),” Busch said about the incident with Creed to Fox Sports 1. “The Cessna Tundra was pretty good. We were up front there leading, the caution came out at the end and just bunched us up back together.

“We got, not a great restart, but a decent restart. We were all even getting into (Turn) 1, and John Hunter just slid me and got the lead. I was trying to figure out what I could do to fight back and get the lead back, and I got drilled in the left rear. That basically handed the win to the 4 truck.

“That’s our year and that’s what it is. I guess we’ll be back in 2022 sometime.”

Prior to the green flag, Busch announced that the Pocono race would be the last race for sponsor Cessna/Beechcraft and stated he is working on plans for the 2022 season. The partnership between Busch and Cessna began in 2017 at Kansas. Since then, the duo has enjoyed 14 victories with each other when Cessna was the main sponsor.

Stages 15-15-30 made up the 60-lap race and Todd Gilliland was on the pole via the qualifying metric system.

An early caution was brought out on Lap 1 when series newcomer Jack Wood, in the No. 24 GMS truck, missed a gear on the initial start and caused the field to stack up. Unfortunately for Johnny Sauter who needs a win to get into the playoffs, he was collected in the incident.

The early caution was the only caution in the stage and Zane Smith went on to win the stage that ended on Lap 15. Busch, Creed, Gilliland, Chandler Smith, Rhodes, Friesen, Austin Hill, Eckes, and Crafton completed the Top 10 for Stage 1.

In Stage 2, there were no yellows but multiple strategies caused various lead changes. On Lap 20, Busch closed in on race leader Zane Smith in the tunnel turn but got loose slightly tapped the wall off Turn 3 one lap later.

On Lap 27, near the end of the stage, there were numerous race leaders who pitted including Busch, Creed, and Chandler Smith. Zane Smith also chose to make a pit stop but the GMS driver didn’t make it to pit road in time and had to restart at the rear of the field for the final stage.

Nemechek did not pit and took the lead during the green-flag pit stops, going on to win Stage 2. Rhodes, Friesen, Austin Hill, Crafton, Berry, Majeski, Purdy, Enfinger, and Wright were the Top 10.

As the final stage began with 25 to go, Busch and Carson Hocevar restarted as the leaders.

Busch looked as if he was going to set sail with the lead, but a late caution with 10 to go came out for Friesen who crashed in Turn 2. This bunched the field up again which set up a restart with six laps to go.

Busch was inching in on Nemechek and it appeared as though there would be a battle for the win late. However, with three laps to go, Sheldon Creed challenged for second and slid both he and Busch up the track.

All Creed and Busch could do was watch as Nemechek drove away with the victory for his 10th career Truck Series victory. Kyle Busch, Sheldon Creed, Tyler Ankrum, Austin Hill, Matt Crafton, Todd Gilliland, Zane Smith, Ryan Preece, and Derek Kraus was the Top 10 finishers.

There were four cautions for 13 laps and eight lead changes among seven different drivers.

Playoff Standings with two races left in the regular seasaon.

  1. John Hunter Nemechek, five wins, 34 playoff points
  2. Ben Rhodes, two wins, 11 playoff points
  3. Todd Gilliland, one win, seven playoff points
  4. Sheldon Creed, one win, six playoff points
  5. Austin Hill, +183
  6. Zane Smith, +142
  7. Matt Crafton, +106
  8. Stewart Friesen, +65
  9. Carson Hocevar, +49
  10. Chandler Smith, +28

    Below the cut line
  11. Johnny Sauter, -28
  12. Tyler Ankrum, -33
  13. Austin Wayne Self, -41
  14. Derek Kraus -55

Official Results following the CRC Brakleen 150 at Pocono Raceway.

  1. John Hunter Nemechek, won Stage 2, led 12 laps
  2. Kyle Busch, led 20 laps
  3. Sheldon Creed, led three laps
  4. Tyler Ankrum
  5. Austin Hill
  6. Matt Crafton
  7. Todd Gilliland, led four laps
  8. Zane Smith, won Stage 1, led 18 laps
  9. Ryan Preece
  10. Derek Kraus
  11. Josh Berry
  12. Christian Eckes
  13. Carson Hocevar
  14. Ty Majeski
  15. Chase Purdy
  16. Tanner Gray
  17. Ben Rhodes
  18. Ryan Truex
  19. Austin Wayne Self
  20. Lawless Alan
  21. Tate Fogleman
  22. Howie DiSavino III
  23. Ray Ciccarelli
  24. Tyler Hill
  25. Chandler Smith, 1 lap down
  26. Hailie Deegan, 1 lap down
  27. Spencer Boyd, 1 lap down
  28. Josh Reaume, 1 lap down
  29. Todd Peck, led one lap, 1 lap down
  30. Kris Wright, 2 laps down
  31. Jennifer Jo Cobb, 2 laps down
  32. Norm Benning, 2 laps down
  33. Stewart Friesen, 2 laps down
  34. Bryan Dauzat, 3 laps down
  35. Johnny Sauter, 5 laps down
  36. Grant Enfinger, OUT, Engine
  37. Bayley Currey, OUT, Mechanical
  38. Danny Bohn, OUT, Mechanical
  39. Jack Wood, OUT, Accident

Up Next: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will take a few weeks off before heading to the inaugural series race at Knoxville Raceway Friday night, July 9, live on Fox Sports 1 and MRN Radio at 9 p.m. ET.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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