NASCAR racing in corn and wine country gave the Young Guns of the sport a chance to shine this weekend at both Iowa Speedway and Sonoma Raceway.
Back to Back Camping World Truck Series Wins for Nemecheck
After his Father’s Day win last week at Gateway Motorsports Park, John Hunter Nemecheck continued his winning streak after taking the checkers in Friday night’s pulse-pounding NASCAR Camping World Truck Series M&M”s 200, presented by Casey’s General Store, at Iowa Speedway.
Regardless of Kyle Busch Motorsports rookie Noah Gragson’s pole win and veteran Johnny Sauter threatening to take the win away from the son of Joe Nemecheck, the newest Nemecheck name in the sport brought home his second win in a race that remained clean for the first two stages.
Following an incident on lap 185, which left ThorSport teammates Grant Enfinger and Matt Crafton crashing into one another, Nemecheck got an opportunity to come to pit road for four fresh tires. While it seemed Sauter would pick up the win after staying on the track, Nemecheck’s crew chief Gere Kennon had little to no doubt that he made the right decision after his driver found his way past Sauter as the laps wound down to get grab his second win of the 2017 season.
“Somehow it all worked out,” said Nemechek. “The last strategy call, taking four tires instead of two, there at the end, we kind of had that strategy if a caution came out towards the end we were going to come no matter what, and no matter who came, just because tires were such a big factor at this track.”
“He drove his butt off tonight,” said crew chief Kennon. “He was awesome and this is awesome for the Nemecheck family.”
William Byron Finds Redemption in XFINITY Series American Ethanol E15 250
While Byron came up short last weekend at Michigan International Speedway, the driver of the No. 9 Jr. Motorsports Chevrolet found redemption during the final lap of Saturday’s American Ethanol E15 250. While Christopher Bell, who was on the second leg of his double-duty duty for the weekend, grabbed the pole and stayed up front during the entire first stage of this race, the young Joe Gibbs driver would have to settle for 16th after being involved in an incident involving Brennan Poole and Ryan Reed.
While this incident would ruin the event for one young driver, it turned out to be just the moment that William Byron needed to find his way to Victory Lane. After pitting to take fuel and fresh tires, Byron seemed to find the fire that he needed to take both the lead and win.
Despite only having four or five laps left before running out of fuel and missing out on yet another win, Bell was able to keep his composure and find his way to the checkered flag.
“To get second last week kind of hurt, just because we were that close,” said Byron. “Fortunately, I feel like it gave us extra motivation, and I feel like last year the beginning of the summer was when I kind of hit my stride and I think we won back-to-back, so to now have a second and a first feels really good.”
Despite the young gun winning his first race, NASCAR veteran Elliott Sadler retains the XFINITY Series point lead.
Kevin Harvick Picks Up Win in Wine Country
While rookies would be all the rage in Iowa, an experienced NASCAR young gun would have an opportunity to sip his celebratory win in wine country this weekend at Sonoma Raceway. In spite of not being a road racing phenom, Kevin Harvick was able to overcome everything thrown at him, like last weekend’s race winner Kyle Larson, grabbing the pole for the 110-lap race, as well as regular Stage winner Martin Truex, Jr., leading a race-high 25 laps and picking up the first stage win.
While Larson would take the lead back from Truex after he dropped a cylinder and wound-up finishing 37th, last Sunday’s race winner wouldn’t find himself back in Victory Lane after a series of run-ins left him fading to 26th. These two drivers’ misfortune would be just what the experienced NASCAR young gun needed to pull of his first win of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
In winning for the 36th time in 590 career starts, Harvick took the checkered flag under caution after Kasey Kahne’s Chevrolet clobbered the concrete Jersey barriers near the start/finish line. By then, Harvick had a comfortable lead of more than eight seconds – and just enough fuel in the tank of the No. 4 Ford Fusion to complete a celebratory burnout on the frontstretch.
“It means a ton to finally check this one off the list,” said Harvick. “I feel like we’ve been close a couple times but never put it all together. Being so close to home and having raced here so much, this was one that was on the top of the list and today we were able to check that box.”
Although Harvick would grab the checkers on Sunday, it is Larson who would stay on top of the point standings as the stars of NASCAR attempt to set up fireworks in Daytona this weekend. Stay tuned to RacingJunk.com for all the latest NASCAR news.