While the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series teams and drivers were away competing in Texas for the weekend, the Camping World Truck Series enjoyed a rare Sunday of racing action in the spotlight back in NASCAR's North Carolina heartland, at the banked 1.017-mile oval Rockingham Speedway.

The race marked NASCAR's return to The Rock for the first time since the Sprint Cup Series decided that it had outgrown the 35,000-capacity facility eight years ago, but the overwhelming enthusiasm with which this weekend's race was greeted by fans, teams and drivers alike might prompt a rethink of the track's ongoing place on the calendar in the future.

The conflicting races over in Texas meant that no Cup or Nationwide series regulars were present for practice or qualifying sessions, leaving former F1 driver Nelson Piquet Jr. the opportunity to claim his first pole position in 33 starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. His lap of 24.933s (144.387mph) was just one thousandth of a second faster than series rookie Paulie Harraka.

Despite the scheduling clash, two Cup drivers - Kasey Kahne and David Reutimann - did get on a plane and arrived back in North Carlina in time to compete in the Sunday afternoon Good Sam Roadside Assistance 200 race itself, albeit having to start from the back row because of their earlier in-attendance.

Piquet led from the start and for the first 67 laps of the 200-lap race, before a restart following a debris caution allowed Matt Craven to take over in front for nearly 20 laps. Piquet regained the lead again on lap 83 and lost it for only one lap during green flag pit stops, and looked more than capable of seeing off any threat to what could have proved to be his first win in a national NASCAR series race.

Unfortunately for the Brazilian, his next stop under caution for an accident on lap 122 involving Reutimann and series rookie Bryan Silas was a slow one and dropped him down to fifth where he got caught up in traffic. During his final pit stop he was focused on trying to make up for the earlier delays and overcompensated on his exit, promptly getting handed a pit lane speeding penalty as a result. It was all he could do to battle his way back into the top ten by the end of the race.

"I was trying to recover the position on a pit stop after I lost the lead, and I pushed it too much and went over the limit," he confirmed. "It happened. It's the first time I've had something like that happen.

"I didn't think that I was going to get penalized, just because the exit was so short [from my pit box] and my wheels were spinning so much. I had no idea," continued Piquet. "I didn't feel like I pushed it too hard, I guess I just went a fraction too fast and pushed it just over the limit."

In total, Piquet had led for 107 laps, but after that pit stop fumble he had to watch from afar as first Timothy Peters and then Matt Craven took charge of the race. Craven was looking very strong for the win - until Kasey Kahne completed his surge from the back of the grid and took over the lead on lap 155.

Kahne was never displaced from then on, and led the final 45 laps through to the chequered flag where he finished 1.478s ahead of second-placed James Buescher, while Matt Crafton held on for third place ahead of Johnny Sauter. For Kahne, it was the perfect way to end a busy weekend - and a sign that his spell of bad luck had finally been broken.

"This is probably the best weekend I've had in a long time," said Kahne said. "I got out of that truck, I've got three clean race cars and I ran three hard races this weekend, and everything's clean. Not a dent on them!

"It was a good weekend, tons of energy, and I'll sleep good tonight when I finally decide to go to bed," he added.

Aside from Reutimann and Silas' accident on lap 122, there were two debris cautions and a very early yellow on lap 5 for John King - the winner of the season opener at Daytona in February - spinning and crashing nose-first into the inside wall on the backstretch.

"I knew we were in trouble as soon as someone drove on the outside of us and the truck got really loose in 1 and 2," said King. "I think we came around the next lap, and when it went, it went."

This early exit from the race sent King toppling out of the championship points lead and down to eighth in the standings, leaving Timothy Peters on top six points ahead of Justin Lofton and seven ahead of James Buescher after three races in the 22-round 2012 season.

Full practice, qualifying and race results available, together with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship standings.


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