John Hunter Nemechek wins Gateway Motorsports Park in the Drivin’ for Linemen 200

Lucy Atkinson

The Camping World Truck Series drivers were at Gateway Motorsports Park for the Drivin’ for Linemen 200. Chase Briscoe was on the pole again for the second week in a row. This track was definitely going to test them with its high banking at one end, and long sweeping bends at the other. Fifteen of the drivers running had never been to this track either, and would face the extra challenge of coming to terms with a new setting. 

Briscoe and JH Nemechek fought it out upon the wave of the green flag, and JH Nemechek ended up leading the race. Within five laps, Gragson had made his way from the back after being sent to the rear for adjustments and was up to being within the top fifteen. Briscoe made a daring attempt on Nemechek for the lead by working the outside line. Lap traffic foiled that plan, but Nemechek knew what Briscoe was capable of. A few laps later and with five to go in Stage one, Briscoe had another go at nipping Nemechek’s heels with hopes of assuming the lead. He wasn’t successful in his endeavour and Nemechek bagged his first Stage win of the season.

Briscoe took two tyres and won the race off pit road, while Nemechek lost five spots after taking four. Unfortunately for Gilliland, he’d be starting at the rear following a penalty for an uncontrolled tyre during his spot. Briscoe took the inside and jumped ahead of Crafton before putting in a series of blocks to keep Crafton in second. There were great battles across the track, and within the first few laps, Gilliland had barged his way back up to 12th in an epic demonstration of talent. Briscoe won the second Stage after leading for its entirety ahead of Crafton and Nemechek.

Strategies came into play as the end of Stage caution saw some drivers go into pit, and some stay out as they prepared for a longer final Stage. Christopher Bell got the run ahead from the pole at the restart and Briscoe was close behind after taking second from Truex. Briscoe didn’t rest there though, because he and Bell went head to head in a tussle for first with 79 laps left in the race. Briscoe emerged victorious and continued to show his strong consistency in this race. On lap 14 of Stage three, Gilliland was limping down pit road due to a transmission issue and had to head for the garage. It was not a good end to the day for him.

There were 33 laps to go when the first driver – Rhodes – made his way down pit road for potentially the final stop of the day. The green flag stops had begun and Crafton had a quick stop for only two tyres, and ended up cycling back to the front as the new leader ahead of Briscoe. With 20 laps to go, the pair were matching one another lap time for lap time, but Briscoe was still chasing his first win – a win that eluded him in a close finish last week. With 12 laps to go, the caution was out for the No. 50 of Reume after stalling on pit road.

The race was back on with 8 laps to go and Crafton was being heckled for first by Bell and Nemechek. Two laps later, Nemechek was to the point and Bell was up to the second spot ahead of Briscoe. Briscoe made contact with Bell and rushed to the second spot and bumped Bell down to sixth. JH Nemechek was the winner of the race, ahead of Briscoe, Sauter, Crafton, Enfinger, Bell, Truex, Rhodes, Gragson and Haley.

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