John Hunter Nemechek declared winner as sparks fly in Truck Series
John Hunter Nemechek was declared winner of a wild Chevrolet Silverado 250 Sunday afternoon at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, taking out Cole Custer at the start-finish line in order to take the checkered flag.
Custer did not appreciate it, and showed his displeasure with Nemechek by charging him and tackling Nemechek in front of the flagstand after both drivers had climbed from their trucks.
Despite replays that appeared to tell a different story and the angry reaction of Custer, Nemechek insisted he earned the victory fairly.
"I caught the No. 00 (of Custer) there, and we didn’t wreck him for the win. Rubbin’ is racin’," Nemechek told FOX Sports in Victory Lane. "If I had been in the same spot, he would have done the same thing to me to get a win. You have to do everything you can to get a win here."
Custer obviously disagreed.
"We had a really fast truck. We got taken out," Custer said. "He hit me going into the second-to-last corner, and he hit me again. I don’t know what else to do. But that’s how it is, I guess."
It was Nemechek’s second series win of the season, so he already had secured a spot on the inaugural Truck Series Chase for the championship.
But Custer desperately needed to win to qualify for the Chase, as he does not yet have a win and is too far behind in points to make it in that way. Only one race remains in the before the eight-driver Chase field is set after the Sept. 16 regular-season finale at Chicagoland Speedway.
Custer’s No. 00 JR Motorsports Chevrolet was the fastest most of the afternoon on Sunday. He started from the pole and led the first 30 laps of the 64-lap event at the 2.459-mile road course, giving up the lead only when he had to make a green-flag pit stop.
That eventually enabled Nemechek to cycle into the lead, and he gambled that he could make it to the end without stopping again for fuel.
Nemechek’s strategy seemed to be working, as he built a two-second lead as the laps wound down. But then the fourth caution flag of the day flew, bunching the field up for a restart with eight laps to go.
Custer powered by Nemechek on the outside on the ensuing restart, but yet another caution came out when the truck of Kaz Grala wrecked before they could complete a single lap. That set up another restart with four to go, this time with the roles reversed — Custer as the control car in the lead on the inside, and Nemechek on the outside.
Custer got the jump on Nemechek and drove off on that restart, but then he had to attempt to survive one more caution and the yet another restart.
This time, with Custer again on the inside and Nemechek on the outside, Nemechek spun his tires and at first gave up second to Spencer Gallagher. Nemechek grabbed second back before the lap was out, as Gallagher got spun out by Austin Cindric, and mounted another late charge at Custer down the stretch.
As they came to the start-finish line, Nemechek was right on Custer’s bumper.
He hit Custer once, then broad-sided him again as they barrelled through the final turn. The second hit took the trucks of both drivers into the grass and pushed Custer up against the outside wall. They then slid together across the finish line, with Nemechek slightly ahead.
Daniel Hemric crossed the line next to take third, with Matt Crafton and Chistopher Bell rounding out the top five.
It took NASCAR officials more than five minutes of reviewing tape of the finish before the declared Nemechek in the winner.
In the meantime, Nemechek went to the grassy area in front of the flagstand to ask for the checkered flag. As he stood there, Custer came running full speed and tackled him. Crew members from both teams separated the two drivers before anything else could happen.