NASCAR: John Hunter Nemechek Charges To Victory In Camping World Truck Series At Atlanta Motor Speedway
Stephen Furst/VAVEL USA

John Hunter Nemechek went to Victory Lane for the second time in his short Camping World Truck Series career at Atlanta Motor Speedway today.

The youngster held off a charge from Cameron Hayley on a late restart to put the #8 truck in Victory Lane, after two time champion Matt Crafton had dominated most of the 163 lap race.

Matt Crafton led over 80 laps of the event only to be involved in a crash on the back stretch with under 20 laps left as Christopher Bell in the #4 clipped Daniel Suarez ​causing the #88 and #51 to receive heavy damage that put them out of contention.

An elated John Hunter told reporters in Victory Lane: "The pit crew won us this race, can't thank them enough, we put a lot of hard work in with little funding and also I want to thank my dad and this whole team."

It looked a certainty that either Matt Crafton or Christopher Bell would be ending the day in Victory Lane but it wasn't to be for the former champion or the young rookie.

Although it was a good day for the family run team of the #8 truck, Kyle Busch Motorsports once again failed to get that first win at Atlanta Motor Speedway after Busch's trucks were involved in multiple incidents.

Another truck who had an up and down day was the Daytona race winner Johnny Sauter in the #21 as he had to come down pit lane with engine troubles before the green flag and then had his hard work, of battling through the field, wiped away when his truck failed to go on a restart.

As the green flag dropped on the Camping World Truck Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway it was Matt Crafton and John Wes Townley on the front row with the two time champion the pole sitter.

Matt Crafton, in the Menards #88, led the first lap from rookie Christopher Bell who had made his way up from 4th after John Wes Townley spun his tires at the start.

Stephen Furst/VAVEL USA
Stephen Furst/VAVEL USA

Bell Charges To The Lead

By lap 5 the Daytona winner and driver of the #21 Johnny Sauter had made his way up to 22nd as he made his way through the back markers of the 32 strong field of trucks.

The first lead change of the race came on lap 7 when Christopher Bell, who went for a wild ride on the last lap of the race at Daytona, passed Matt Crafton on the back stretch to go to the point.

The next few laps brought exciting action for the lead and Christopher Bell and Matt Crafton traded blows on the point and battled side by side for a time.

John Wes Townley had started to recover some of the positions he lost at the start by lap 17 but was still down in 10th position as Daniel Hemric #19 was into the top 5.

As lap 20 ticked by Christopher Bell, Matt Crafton and Cameron Hayley were the top three as Johnny Sauter was up to 18th and nearly back to his starting spot of 16th.

One of the rookies who looked to be struggling was Daytona pole sitter Grant Enfinger in the #33 who had started 5th but had dropped considerably to P20.

Daniel Suarez in the #51 had the first close call of the day on lap 24 when he scraped the outside wall coming out of turn four as he was following the line of Grant Enfinger.

There was a big moment for leader Christopher Bell on lap 29 when his front right tire went down, but fortunately for the 21 year old he brought it too the pits without bringing out the caution and only lost one lap.

The power of Sauters #21 was starting to show in the early stages as he was up to P11 by lap 34 and ahead of front row starter John Wes Townley.

A lap later there was another tire issue as Tommy Joe Martins in the #44 lost a front right tire but also made it to pit road without major troubles.

For the first time this season the new caution clock hit zero at lap 38 with Crafton, Gallagher, Byron, Suarez and Kennedy the top five on track.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Trouble For Sauter

The restart came on lap 42 as Matt Crafton pulled ahead of Spencer Gallagher in the #23 but there were more issues for Johnny Sauter as his truck once again shut off and lost power.

Johnny Sauter had to come to the garage area and let the team change the ignition which undid all of his hard work since the start.

"It's running, I've got fuel pressure and everything but it just won't go!" Johnny Sauter reported to his team over the radio.

At lap 51 there was a close call for rookie John Hunter Nemechek, son of legendary NASCAR driver Joe Nemechek, in the #8 as he got sideways passing Ryan Truex #81.

High school Senior William Byron in the #9 was up into 2nd and chasing down leader Matt Crafton.

But it was curse of the commentator as just two turns later Byron's engine cut loose and ended his day early.

William Byron spoke to FoxSports 1 after being released from the infield care center: "It's really frustrating, just can't thank the KBM guys enough, it's my first 1.5 mile track and wanted to have a really good run."

Matt Crafton once again brought the field to the green and the restart on lap 69 ahead of the #23 of Spencer Gallagher as the #88 had already led 48 laps.

Almost big trouble after the restart when Ben Rhodes in the #41 got loose, moved up the track in front of Cole Custer #00 who reacted well to brake quickly and just bump Rhodes and both of them kept their trucks going.

Then last years title contender Tyler Reddick in the #29 came to pit road for an unscheduled stop as one of his tires had already gone down after running over some debris.

As the counter ticked over to lap 73 Christopher Bell was back inside the top five and fighting his way towards the front of the pack once again the the #4 truck.

With 50 laps to go Matt Crafton continued his dominance as he had a 1.5 second lead over Spencer Gallagher and Daniel Suarez as Christopher Bell was in 4th and Timothy Peters and Daniel Hemric were battling over 5th.

Christopher Bell continued his fight back as he was into the top three with 44 laps to go in the 163 lap event at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Caution Clock Comes Into Effect

Soon after, with just 37 laps to go, Bells hard work paid off as he powered passed Matt Crafton going into turn three and driving away from the #88 truck.

Another rookie got too close to the outside wall with 33 to go when Rico Abreu in the #98 dragged his truck along it whilst battling over 10th with Grant Enfinger.

The caution clock once again came into effect with 25 laps to go with Christopher Bell, Matt Crafton and Spencer Gallagher the top three trucks on the leaderboard.

As the green flagged dropped once again it was the #88 of Matt Crafton who led the filed to the line, but it was short lived as Daniel Suarez and Crafton were both out of the race shortly after.

Daniel Suarez was clipped by his team mate Christopher Bell as the filed was coming down the back stretch which in turn turned Matt Crafton hard into the outside wall as Suarez made equally hard contact with the inside wall.

​Daniel Suarez told reporters: "It's pretty easy to explain what happened, out team mate (Bell) turned us around but I have no idea why."

Nemechek Takes Control Late

The latest restart came with 15 to go with ​John Hunter Nemechek in the #8 leading the field but it was not long before Christopher Bell pulled a Denny Hamlin esque move to pull the crossover on the #8 truck to take the lead.

As the counter ticked down to ten to go John Wes Townley was back inside the top 3 as Christopher Bell and John Hunter Nemechek battled for the lead and the win but there would be no fairytale for the #4.

With 8 to go Christopher Bell was comfortably out front with a 1.5 second lead but his front right tire gave out and he hit the outside wall on the front stretch hard but was able to walk away.

The final restart came with just two laps to go when John Hunter Nemechek led the field to the green ahead of John Wes Townley but once again the #05 truck spun his tires and dropped rapidly to 6th.

As the trucks came onto the final lap the #8 truck held off the charges from Cameron Hayley and Timothy Peters and came to the checkered flag to claim a victory for the family owned team and book a spot in this years first Chase in the Camping World Truck Series.

Stephen Furst/VAVEL USA
Stephen Furst/VAVEL USA