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Temperatures were around 104°F during the day, but Stewart Friesen broke his cold streak with a win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway Friday night (May 20), holding off Christian Eckes on the final overtime restart.
Friesen, 39, driver of the No. 52 Halmar Friesen Racing Toyota, won for the first time since November 2019 in the penultimate race of the season at Phoenix Raceway, and clinched his spot in the Truck Series playoffs. He also became the seventh different driver to visit victory lane this season.
The Win That Could’ve Been
John Hunter Nemechek, who won the pole but had to start at the rear for an unapproved adjustment, finished sixth despite driving through the field twice. To top it off, a questionable decision to pit from the lead for gas effectively took the win out of his hands. Despite the miscue, Nemechek takes over the point lead for the first time this season.
Eckes had a strong performance, but the final overtime restart came down to lane choice, which he didn’t have.
“Just didn’t have lane position,” Eckes said. “It is what it is. It’s been a rough kind of stretch here for a little bit. I’m glad to show we can actually be here and win races. We’re more hungry than ever.”
Preece, who won both Stage 1 and Stage 2, scored a season-high third in the No. 17 Team DGR Ford. That’s his fourth top 10 finish in as many starts this season. It was quite the comeback for the former NASCAR Cup Series driver, who suffered damage earlier in the race, but rebounded to give his team a shot at the victory.
The race had 17 lead changes among seven drivers. Eckes led the most laps with 40, a season-high for the ThorSport Racing driver.
A Rocky Night
It was just a bad night for reigning series champion Ben Rhodes. After leading the points for a four-race stretch, the streak came to a halt on Friday. He was involved in an accident after Tanner Gray caught the outside wall off turn two and clipped the right rear of Rhodes to bring out the caution that forced overtime. The 25-year-old Rhodes finished 27th in his No. 99 ThorSport Racing Toyota.
Zane Smith also had a rough evening in the office. He finished six laps down in 32nd. Smith has won a season-high three races, but inconsistency has him chasing in the points battle.
Tate Fogleman, who won at Talladega last fall, spun under caution following the Rhodes-Gray incident. He finished 22nd.
No. 9 – Blaine Perkins
No. 24 – Jack Wood
No. 40 – Dean Thompson
No. 45 – Lawless Alan
No. 51 – Corey Heim
No. of rookies in the race: 5
No. of rookies in the top 10: 1
Rookie of the Race: Heim (7th)
At this point, it’s not even a contest. The next highest-finishing rookie after Heim was Wood, who finished 16th.
Nemechek (343 points) holds a four-point edge over Rhodes. There’s a new “Smith” sitting in third and it’s Chandler Smith (-18), while Zane slid to fifth (-32). Friesen (-21) checks in at fourth following his first win of 2022.
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