The NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series provided Friday afternoon racing for the HFHS 200 at Brooklyn, Michigan. Before the race, NASCAR announced that the top-three NASCAR series would implement the “choose lane” for all races going forward. For those not familiar, the “choose lane” allows all drivers to choose which lane they would like to start and restart in.
The NASCAR Truck Series provided some Friday afternoon racing as the HFHS 200 got underway shortly after 3:15 pm PST. Chandler Smith and Brett Moffitt held the front two starting positions. Moffitt powered away with the lead until the first caution of the day came out on Lap Four when Trey Hutchens and Josh Reaume got together on the front stretch.
Moffitt led the field back to green on Lap 8 with Christian Eckes in second. Moffitt kept the lead as multiple battles for position occurred throughout. Eckes brought out the caution with eight laps left in the stage as he spun exiting Turn Two. Moffitt and Ben Rhodes brought the field back to green with three laps left. Brennan Poole spun coming out of Turn Four, causing another caution. As there were only two laps left, the stage ended under caution with Moffitt taking the green-and-white checkered flag.
Lap 25 brought forth the beginning of Stage Two with Chandler Smith and Rafael Lessard on the front row. Lessard was able to power ahead and took the lead away from Smith. As the stage wound down, Lessard suffered a flat tire with 12 laps left in the second stage and had to make a green-flag pit stop. Johnny Sauter assumed the lead and led the rest of the stage, taking the green-and-white checkered flag. While under caution for the stage break, the leaders made their pit stops; Todd Gilliland and Brett Moffitt exiting first and second.
Todd Gilliland and Austin Hill led the field back to green for the final stage of the race. Hill utilized the lower line and was able to snatch the lead away from Gilliland. As the race crossed the halfway lap, Christian Eckes hooked Stewart Friesen, spinning Friesen to the outside wall, collecting multiple trucks, including Matt Crafton.
The race resumed on Lap 58 with Sheldon Creed and Austin Hill on the lead. Hill maintained the lead through the first lap under green as the caution came out for Chandler Smith initially got turned to the outside wall, then spun to the inside, ending his day. After drivers made their pit stops under caution, Johnny Sauter and John Hunter Nemechek brought the field back to green on Lap 65.
John Hunter Nemechek used the bottom lane to his advantage and was able to power his truck to the lead. Nemechek began to fade as Grant Enfinger and Sauter were able to get around him. Enfinger was able to hold the lead as the caution came out for Austin Wayne Self, who crashed exiting Turn Two. Sauter and Nemechek held the first and second positions as the race resumed on Lap 77.
Austin Hill took the leaders three-wide on the restart, with Grant Enfinger emerging as the leader with Hill falling back to sixth. As before the caution, first and second place drivers, Enfinger and Sauter, pulled away from the rest of the field.
The race dramatically changed with 16 laps left in the race. Sauter dove to the inside, making a pass for the lead. Sauter’s truck got loose, and he spun into the outside wall, suffering severe rear-end damage and ending his chance at victory. Enfinger and Tanner Gray brought the field back to green with 11 laps left in the race. Before completing a lap, the caution flew again as Ray Ciccarelli spun on the backstretch.
Enfinger brought the field back to green with John Hunter Nemechek to his inside. Enfinger surged ahead to the lead, but the caution flew once again as Tyler Hill spun through the front stretch grass. With this spin, the Truck Series set a record at Michigan for its tenth caution of the day.
The first attempt at NASCAR’s overtime began with Enfinger on the outside and Nemechek to the inside. Brendan Poole and Tate Fogleman got together on the backstretch, necessitating the eleventh caution period of the race. Under NASCAR’s overtime rules, the drivers lined up to for another attempt. Before a second attempt could occur, the race was red-flagged to clean up oil on the track from the crash.
After the cleanup, Enfinger led with Nemechek to his inside. Austin Hill pushed Enfinger ahead before darting to Enfinger’s inside. Enfinger attempted to block and spun across the noses of Hill and Nemechek, taking out all three drivers. The race continued with Christian Eckes assuming the lead and Zane Smith in second. Eckes took the white flag as Smith took a look at Eckes’ inside. Smith made the pass and held of Eckes, capturing his first win in the Truck Series.
The Truck Series proved once again that they provide the most consistent racing in NASCAR. With plenty of side-by-side racing, dramatic twists and turns and, a first-time winner, the HFHS 200 at Michigan International Speedway was an absolute blast. What were your thoughts on today’s race?
The Truck Series will host the inaugural road course race at Daytona on August 16. It should be fun!
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