Avondale, AZ – Friday night’s Lucas Oil 150 at the Phoenix Raceway was as wild as we thought it would be. With the 1.022-mile track racing like a short track, and this being the final race of the second round, what more would you expect?
Johnny Sauter picked up his first career win in the desert and second straight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory on the season en route to a surprising win for him in the last race before the Championship 4.
Sauter, only led the final five laps but they were the most important ones at he took his No. 21 Chevrolet to victory lane for the fourth time of the season and 17th time of his Truck Series career, tying him with Ted Musgrave for seventh on the all-time wins list.
John Hunter Nemechek escaped all the carnage in the end and brought his No. 8 Chevrolet home runner-up on Friday night. Unfortunately for Nemechek, he came up just short as he needed to win tonight. It was Nemechek’s first top five finish since Bristol and eighth of the season.
Cody Coughlin earned his best career finish of third in his No. 13 Toyota, while Chase Briscoe and rookie Kaz Grala rounded out the top five.
The first 120 laps were pretty tame. We’d see just two cautions, both for the end of stages. But, the end final 30 laps saw three red flags totaling 37-minutes and 23-seconds.
After Josh Reaume stopped on the track on Lap 121, bringing out the third caution of the night, the race really flipped a switch. Ben Rhodes was fifth in the points standings entering the night, but was currently holding the fourth and final spot at that point of the race. He had a seven point advantage over rookie Austin Cindric.
We all knew Cindric would pit for new tires, but Rhodes gave up track position and a spot inside the top five to get tires as well. That advantage fell to one on a late race restart with 21 laps-to-go.
On that restart, Cindric looked low on Rhodes but Rhodes threw a block. Unfortunately, they two made contract which sent Rhodes’ No. 27 Toyota into the inside SAFER barrier and back up the track into his ThorSport Racing teammate of Matt Crafton.
Cindric, continued on while Rhodes and Crafton’s nights were done. That advanced Cindric to the Championship 4 as well as Crafton and sent Rhodes’ championship hopes home. The Lap 129 incident brought out a 17-minute, 7-second red flag.
On the Lap 134 restart, we’d see another melee. This time, there was six wide as several drivers shot to below the racing surface and well below the white line on the dogleg. Unfortunately, six wide at Phoenix is too much.
Ryan Truex, Dalton Sargeant and Jesse Little all made contact and shot hard into the Turn 3 SAFER barrier. Luckily, everyone was able to walk away but there was another red flag period that lasted 14-minutes and 12-seconds.
That wasn’t he last melee either.
On what we thought could be the final restart with 13 to go, it was an intense battle for the lead between Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates Christopher Bell and Noah Gragson. They switched leads twice and were running side-by-side the whole way before they both touched in Turn 4 with eight laps-to-go and bringing out the final caution of the night.
Bell, would get into the outside SAFER barrier and continue on with the lead for the moment, while Gragson got into the wall and then hit by Justin Haley.
Bell, would have to pit during the caution flag for repairs as the duo led the first 145 laps. That handed the lead to Sauter for a final two lap shootout between he and Nemechek.
Sauter, already had a win in this round and was advancing to Homestead. Nemechek, needed to win to advance and had fresher tires.
Crafton, Bell and Cindric join him in the Championship 4 at Homestead.
Lucas Oil 150 Results
- 21 Sauter
- 8 Nemechek
- 13 Coughlin R
- 29 Briscoe R
- 33 Grala R
- 52 Friesen R
- 51 Gilliland R
- 4 Bell
- 19 Cindric R
- 83 Currey R
- 15 Hathaway R
- 49 Lyons R
- 1 Anderson
- 24 Haley OUT
- 18 Gragson R OUT
- 50 Reaume
- 99 Sargeant OUT
- 97 Little OUT
- 16 Truex OUT
- 27 Rhodes OUT
- 88 Crafton OUT
- 6 Benning OUT
- 02 Hill OUT
- 98 Enfinger OUT
- 44 Self OUT
- 0 Ciccarelli OUT
- 10 Cobb OUT
- 74 Harmon OUT
- 87 Nemechek OUT
- 45 Bell OUT
- 63 Minior OUT
- 57 Senica OUT