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In a Nutshell: Cole Custer entered the final corner of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park with the lead. His No. 00 truck set the pace throughout the day up north, leading the first 30 laps of the Chevrolet Silverado 250. But Custer’s truck wouldn’t make it across the finish line first. Instead, it was John Hunter Nemechek, who scored his second triumph of the season in the Camping World Truck Series, slapping the rear-end of Custer’s vehicle to steal the victory.
Who Should Have Won: Custer had the quickest truck on the day, leading 39 of 66 laps. While he lost track position, restarting fifth with 20 laps to go after the second caution clock was displayed, the JR Motorsports driver worked his way back to the front of the pack. He made several daring moves, including one that got him around Spencer Gallagher and Tyler Reddick to bring him back into the runner-up position after a five-truck wreck on Lap 52. When Custer finally reached Nemechek, he got around him with ease on the penultimate restart until he was hit from behind coming to the stripe.
Cole Custer’s Chase Hopes Get Crushed
Immediately after Custer parked his truck on pit road following the race, he went charging after Nemechek, who was waiting to be handed the checkered flag at the finish line.
Roaring to Nemechek, who still had his helmet on at the time, Custer threw the fellow Chevrolet driver to the ground as the two did their best to imitate the Connor McGregor v. Nate Diaz UFC fight or a traditional Canadian hockey brawl. As the fight was broken up, Custer — rightfully so — showed true emotion for the first time since he began competing full-time in the Truck Series.
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) September 4, 2016
A win would have given Custer a spot in the exclusive Chase for the Truck Series, which includes eight drivers. After winning two of his first 19 races, it appeared as if he’d be a title favorite when he was announced as JRM’s full-time driver in 2016. However, entering Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the No. 00 truck was winless, leading 21 laps on the year with six top 10s in 14 contests.
But when the series came to Canada, Custer had high hopes. He finished inside of the top 10 at the track each of the last two seasons, but failed to finish better than ninth.
Come Sunday’s 250-mile contest, Custer sat on the pole and led a race-high 39 laps. It appeared as if he’d enter Victory Lane, though he had to overcome several obstacles, including a pit strategy that sent him from first to fifth with less than 20 laps to go.
When Nemechek closed the gap in the final corner, no one expected he’d slam into Custer the way he did. Racing like the two were in the new NASCAR Heat Evolution game, they slammed into each other from corner-entry until the finish line.
NASCAR waited approximately five minutes after the checkered flag flew to declare the winner. Evidently, Nemechek crossed the finish line by 34 one-hundredths of a second ahead of Custer, enough to steal a victory away from a man who entered the race 10th in the standings and needing a win to get into the Chase.
Now, Custer heads into Chicagoland Speedway needing a victory. He heads to the intermediate track for the first time, desperately hoping to win and bring his No. 00 team into title contention.
- DJ Kennington finished a career-high 14th for Premium Motorsports Sunday afternoon. He made his first series start since Homestead in 2013, when he finished 26th in a Rick Ware Racing truck.
- Austin Cindric was on pace for his first top 5 in the Camping World Truck Series. However, lost in the chaos on the last lap between the leaders is his spin, which sent him from fourth to 23rd.
- Michigan winner Brett Moffitt started the day sixth at the road course, but finished 16th after picking up a sponsor for the weekend’s race, something uncommon this year for Red Horse Racing.
- Cody Ware ran his first Truck Series race of the season, piloting the No. 07 truck. He ended the day with a career-best 17th-place finish.
- NASCAR Next member Gary Klutt had high hopes for Sunday’s race, making his Truck Series debut for Kyle Busch Motorsports. The Pinty’s Series regular ran the double Sunday, finishing 11th in the No. 51 truck.
Truck Rookie Report
2016 Rookie of the Year Candidates
No. 00 Cole Custer
No. 4 Christopher Bell
No. 9 William Byron
No. 22 Austin Wayne Self
No. 41 Ben Rhodes
No. 98 Rico Abreu
No. of Rookies in the Race: 11 (add Austin Cindric, Kaz Grala, Brett Moffitt, Gary Klutt, Justin Haley and Cody Ware).
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 3; Cole Custer, finished second; Christopher Bell, finished fifth and William Byron, finished 10th.
Rookie of the Race: Cole Custer
2016 Chase Qualifiers:
Johnny Sauter (Daytona)
John Hunter Nemechek (Atlanta and Bowmanville)
William Byron (Kansas, Texas, Iowa, Kentucky, Pocono)
Matt Crafton (Dover & Charlotte)
Christopher Bell (Gateway)
Ben Kennedy (Bristol)
Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series regular season comes to an end in less than two weeks, when the series heads to Chicagoland Speedway. Nemecheck is the reigning winner at Chicagoland, with Kyle Busch earning victories in four of seven races at the 1.5-mile speedway. With two open spots left in the Chase, either both will be decided by points or one will be earned with a full-time driver on the outside looking in being able to earn a triumph. Coverage for the American Ethanol E15 225 begins at 8:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1 and can be heard on SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90.
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