He may have had his work cut out for him entering the day, but John Hunter Nemechek was able to bring home a sixth-place finish at Talladega to advance onto the Round of 6 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs.
Though the end result was a top-10 and a place in the next round of the playoffs, it certainly wasn’t an easy day for Nemechek to be able to get there when the checkered flag flew.
Qualifying the worst of the eight playoff drivers in 15th, Nemechek was able to obtain vital stage points in the first two stages, finishing seventh in both of those stages. However, on lap 55, his route to a spot in the next round almost went up in a cloud of smoke.
A five-truck pile-up broke out entering Turn 3, with Nemechek and fellow playoff contender Matt Crafton both sustaining a substantial amount of damage on their trucks. Though they were badly damaged, both drivers were able to make their way to pit road and get their trucks fixed under the five-minute time limit.
Returning to the track in his damaged Chevrolet, Nemechek held his own in the lead pack and avoided the other two multi-truck crashes on lap 71 and in overtime to cross the line in sixth place when the race was called due to the final caution.
Of the six remaining drivers still in playoff contention, Nemechek is the only driver that has made it there with a single truck team, while the others are all members of multi-truck organizations.
“I’m pretty sure we were in every wreck that there was,” said Nemechek. “I just can’t thank all my guys enough. They never gave up. My pit crew was awesome fixing the truck. We got stage points. We accomplished everything we wanted to except for winning stages and winning the race. I would have much rather had Christopher’s (Bell) day, running up front and being uneventful, but I just can’t thank them enough. It was almost déjà vu over again from last year. We were in the same spot, but this year we overcame and never lost faith.”
“This feels great. This was our goal. Really looking forward to the next string of three races. I feel really good about those race tracks. Definitely an eventful day.”