Father’s Day weekend was a special one for the stars of NASCAR this weekend. While those hard-working dads of both the XFINITY and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series would do their best to pick up a win at Michigan International Speedway, a future star would salute his legendary father with his first Camping World Truck Series win at St. Louis famous Gateway Motorsports Park.
NASCAR XFINITY Series Irish Hills 250
The weekend began with racing action from the XFINITY Series. Like a father teaching his son how things are done, the seasoned veterans of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series led the way Saturday afternoon. Kyle Busch kicked things off by taking the pole for Saturday’s race, but his lesson to the newbies of the sport was short-lived, as the No. 18 of Busch would collide with the No. 22 of Brad Keselowski on lap one of this race, leaving Busch sailing off the track towards pit road.
After taking the lead, Keselowski took home the win in Stage 1 of this race. Despite his dominance, another NASCAR veteran pulled into the lead midway through this race to give Keselowski a little lesson of his own. Current XFINITY Series points leader Elliott Sadler would be all the talk after winning the second 30-lap stage on Stage 2 of this race. Despite an attempt at a Father’s Day win, Sadler would fall back in the field behind Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender William Byron and race winner Denny Hamlin.
An alumnus of the NASCAR Next program, Byron pulled ahead of the No. 20 of Hamlin after the restart on Lap 124. The two drivers battled for two laps before the more experienced driver took the lead to win through the final two corners and win the race.
The margin was the closest XFINITY Series finish at Michigan since the advent of electronic timing and scoring more than two decades ago.
“He did a great job, and I knew he had a really good car,” said Hamlin of Byron. “That last long run that we had, Byron was about to pass me, so he’s done a great job. Obviously, he’s one of NASCAR’s next future superstars, and I wanted to race him clean and am glad that I had the opportunity to do so.”
Of his veteran mentor, Byron said that Hamlin schooled the younger pupil. “Denny just schooled me there at the end,” said Byron. “I thought I could side-draft him back to the line, but I needed a few more feet.”
While Sadler is 21 points ahead of Justin Allgaier, the potential replacement for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at the end of the season, XFINITY Series rookie and runner-up Byron, sits third and is fast approaching a potential takeover.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivin’ for Linemen 200
While a rookie might not have been able to pull off the win in the XFINITY Series, a NASCAR Young Gun with a famed last name gave a well-known NASCAR veteran the ultimate Father’s Day gift on the final lap of Saturday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivin’ for Lineman 200.
Despite pole winner and second-place finisher Chase Briscoe picking-up the win in Stage 2 of this race, the No. 8 of John Hunter Nemechek, who also led all 35 laps of the first stage of the race and 46 overall, took home the win with his illustrious father there for the celebration.
“Incredible,” was all Nemechek could muster in response after watching his son pass Matt Crafton late in the race to win the Drivin’ for Linemen 200. “I just kept telling him to be smart and I guess you can say that he listened.”
While father was beaming with pride at his son, John Hunter was emotional about the opportunity to give the man who made his career the ultimate gift.
“To give him a Father’s Day gift, something like this, is very special. As a boss, as a mentor, as a dad, pretty much everything he is to me, it’s definitely inspiring. I won’t ever be able to thank him enough.”
This win also gave the younger Nemecheck the opportunity to slide into the top 10 in points standings behind Daytona winner Kaz Grala.
FireKeepers Casino 400
As the green flag waved on Father’s Day Sunday, a young NASCAR dad led the start of the FireKeepers Casino 400 with a crowd of other fathers cheering him on. Despite Kyle Larson picking up the pole for this 200-lap race, it wasn’t long before expectant father Martin Truex Jr., who started alongside Larson on the front row, took this lead away to pick up both the Stage 1 and 2 wins.
Despite Truex doing what he could to hold off the 37-car field throughout much of this race, a succession of late-race restarts dropped the No. 78 back to the top-five by the end of this race.
Although Truex was unable to hold onto his ruling fashion, Larson held on to lead 96 laps of this race and received a strong push from Ryan Blaney in the bottom lane during a restart on Lap 186 of 200 to clear current race leader Kyle Busch to win his is second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the season and his first Father’s Day win.
“What a great Father’s Day present for myself and all the other fathers out there,” Larson said. “My dad is here today, too. I’m looking forward to celebrating with him. We’ve been so close to so many other wins. This is our second Cup win of the year, but we’ve had five second-place finishes. All-in-all, it’s a good season so far and we’ll continue to keep building on what we’ve got.”
Thanks to this win, Larson was also able to regain the lead in the championship points by 5 over Stage 1 and 2 winner Martin Truex Jr.
The stars of NASCAR will return to work next weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Stay tuned to RacingJunk.com for all the latest NASCAR news.