Since NASCAR has returned to racing, the Cup Series has run three races and the Xfinity Series has run two. Now it is time for the Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series to take to the track with the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
It has been 95 days since the drivers have fired the engines in Atlanta – longer even than the normal off season. Since the end of the 2019 racing season, the Truck Series drivers have only run two races.
Nearly a third of the field – 12 drivers – have never run a truck race at Charlotte with an expanded field of 40 drivers instead of the normal 32.
Early in the season, Kevin Harvick issued a challenge that he would give $50,000 to any Truck Series driver who could beat Kyle Busch – he hasn’t lost in two years, seven in a row. The challenge is on but with a few changes. The conditions have changed to any driver and they don’t have to win the race, just beat Kyle at the finish line. And since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the money will be donated to the Covid relief fund of the winner’s choosing. Since the challenge was issued, it has been matched by the owner of Gander Outdoors.
Can anyone beat Rowdy in a truck race???
Joining Busch in the race is Cup driver Chase Elliott who hasn’t been behind the wheel of a truck in over two years, Garrett Smithley, John Hunter Nemechek, and The Melon Man Ross Chastain.
After a random draw for the starting lineup, Ben Rhodes will silt on the pole and bring the field to green with Tyler Ankrum starting alongside on the front row.
Stages one and two of the race are 30 laps each with stage three lasting 74 laps for a total of 134 laps around the mile and a half track.
After no practice or qualifying runs, NASCAR will throw a competition caution around lap 15.
In a Truck Series first, Ben Rhodes brings the field down for some Tuesday night racing. Rhodes jumps out in front for the lead but before the lap is complete Austin Hill takes the lead.
Lap two the top five are Austin Hill, Ben Rhodes Tanner Gray, Ty Majeski, and Matt Crafton.
Only three laps into the race, Kyle Busch has moved from 16th to ninth.
Jordan Anderson has some issues with his truck and has to make an unscheduled trip down pit road.
Lap six, Austin Hill has a sone second lead on Ben Rhodes; Matt Crafton, Ty Majeski, and Tyler Ankrum round out the top five. Kyle Busch is in seventh.
Lap 10, Austin Hill continues to lead the race but Ben Rhodes has closed the gap to less than a second; Matt Crafton, Ty Majeski, and Tyler Ankrum rounding out the top five with Kyle Busch coming on in sixth.
Lap 15, Austin Hill continues to lead the race but by less than half a second over Matt Crafton; Ben Rhodes Tyl Majeski, and Tyler Ankrum round out the top five with Kyle Busch in sixth.
NASCAR throws the competition caution at the end of lap 15. Some of the drivers bring their truck down pit road for service but the leaders stayed out on the track.
Austin Hill brings the field down for the green flag restart with 10 laps remaining in stage one with Matt Crafton going nose to nose before Austin Hill gets back out in front. After making a pit stop, Kyle Busch restarts the race in 31st position.
Lap 23, Austin Hill has led every lap so far. Rowdy Busch has moved up to 19th place in two laps.
With five laps to go in stage one, Austin Hill leads the race with Ross Chastain, Matt Crafton, Ty Majeski, and Zane Smith rounding out the top five. Kyle Busch is in 17th place.
Lap 27, Melon Man Ross Chastain has put his watermelon truck out in front for the lead.
With a lead of over a second, Ross Chastain wins stage one for his first stage win of the season.
The top 10 at the end of stage one:
Austin Hill wins the race off of pit road.
Kyle Busch has a second extended pit stop while the crew tries to make adjustments to the truck.
After staying out on the track, Zane Smith brings the field down for the green flag start of stage two with Raphael Lessard starting alongside on the front row. On lap 38, Raphael Lessard gets out in front for the lead while drivers battle for second place.
Lap 39, Raphael Lessard leads the race with Matt Crafton, Ben Rhodes, Zane Smith, and Ty Majeski rounding out the top five. After some truck issues, Kyle Busch restarted the race in 25th place and on lap 40, he has moved up to 17th place.
Lap 42, Matt Crafton leads the race with Chase Elliott in second; Zane Smith, Ross Chastain, and Ben Rhodes round out the top five.
Lap 44, Chase Elliott takes the lead and pulls away from the field.
Lap 45, Kyle Busch has made it back to the top 10 in ninth place.
The top five are Chase Elliott, Matt Crafton, Ben Rhodes, Zane Smith, and Ross Chastain.
Lap 50, Chase Elliott has a lead of nearly a second and a half on Matt Crafton; Ben Rhodes, Zane Smith, and John Hunter Nemechek round out the top five. Kyle Busch is in seventh place.
Only seven laps remain in stage two; Chase Elliott is driving away with it, he has a lead of three seconds on Ben Rhodes; Matt Crafton, Zane Smith, and John Hunter Nemechek round out the top five with Kyle Busch in sixth.
With a lead of three seconds, Chase Elliott wins stage two after not being in a truck for over two years.
The top 10 at the end of stage two:
John Hunter Nemechek
Drivers bring their trucks down pit road for service. Chase Elliott wins the race off of pit road; followed by Ben Rhodes and Kyle Busch.
Chase Elliott brings the field down for the green flag start of stage three on lap 69 but it is Ben Rhodes who gets out in front first before Kyle Busch takes the top spot.
Todd Gilliland gets into the wall but so far the track stays green.
Lap 71, Kyle Busch has pulled out to a lead of over half a second on Austin Hill; Brett Moffitt, Todd Gilliland, and Chase Elliott round out the top five.
Lap 73, there are 32 trucks on the lead lap with only one truck out of the race.
Lap 74, Kyle Busch leads the race by nearly a second on Austin Hill; Chase Elliott, Brett Moffitt, and John Hunter Nemechek round out the top five.
Lap 76, Kyle Busch has increased his lead to over a second on Austin Hill.
The caution flag came out on lap 79 for a crash involving Jesse Iwuji, Brennan Poole, and Stewart Friesen.
With 48 laps remaining in the race, Kyle Busch brings the field down for the green flag restart and jumps out in front for the lead with Brett Moffitt in second.
Brett Moffitt gets around Kyle Busch for the lead.
The caution flag comes out after Brennan Poole and Natalie Decker get into a wreck.
Some of the drivers come down pit road for service.
After staying out on the track, Kyle Busch brings the field down for the green flag restart with 43 laps remaining in the race. Going nose to nose with Austin Hill, Zane Smith makes it three wide to lead the race.
Kyle Busch continues to battle for the top spot, getting back out in front for the lead with 40 lpas remaining in the race.
The caution flag comes out with 39 laps to go after Garrett Smithley slams into the wall.
The leaders who stayed out last time, come down pit road; including Kyle Busch. He will restart the race in 24th place.
Just before the green flag comes back out, Matt Crafton brings his truck down pit road for an unscheduled pit stop.
Zane Smith brings the field down for the green flag restart with 34 laps to go. With Smith leading the way the drivers get spread out three and four across the track.
Zane Smith leads the race with Chase Ellioto in second.
Todd Gilliland brings out the seventh caution flag with 32 laps to go with a crash.
Matt Crafton’s team indicates that they are out of a race with some issue under the truck.
Reports are that the trackbar mount broke on Matt Crafton’s truck.
Zane Smith brings the field down for the green flag restart with just 27 laps remaining in the race. Johnny Sauter makes it three wide and takes the lead. In a three wide move, Kyle Busch is now in the top five in fourth place.
Twenty five to go, Johnny Sauter leads the race with Chase Elliott in second; Zane Smith, Kyle Busch and Brett Moffitt round out the top five.
Chase Elliott passes Johnny Sauter for the lead as Kyle Busch takes third place.
Lap 111, Chase Elliott has pulled out to a lead of nearly a second on Zane Smith with Kyle Busch, Brett Moffitt, and Johnny Sauter rounding out the top five.
Twenty to go, Chase Elliott has a lead of nearly a second on Kyle Busch; Zane Smith, Brett Moffitt, and Johnny Sauter round out the top five.
Fifteen to go, Chase Elliott holds on to a lead of over half a second on Kyle Busch with Zane Smith, Brett Moffitt, and Johnny Sauter rounding out the top five.
With 12 laps to go, Kyle Busch has closed the gap on leader Chase Elliott to uder half a second.
Ten to go, Chase Elliott holds on to his half second lead on Kyle Busch with 25 trucks on the lead lap.
Nine laps remaining in the race and Kyle Busch has closed the gap on leader Chase Elliott to just a quarter of a second.
Five to go, Chase Elliott holds on to his lead over Kyle Busch as they enter lapped traffic.
Kyle Busch has not lost a truck race in over two years. If he can hold on to the lead and win the race, he will win the $100,000 bounty that will be donated to the Covid relief charity of his choice.
Chase Elliott takes the white flag with Kyle Busch three quarters of a second behind.
Chase Elliott wins the race and becomes the first driver in over two years to beat Kyle Busch!
The unofficial results for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200:
John Hunter Nemechek
Austin Wayne Self
Jennifer Jo Cobb