CLICK: Full race results, plus qualifying and practice speeds and full Camping World Truck Series championship standings.
Darrell Wallace Jr. landed his second victory in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on Saturday evening with victory under the floodlights in the Drivin' for Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park, the fifth win from seven races in 2014 for Kyle Busch Motorsports and continuing a season sweep to date for Toyota.
"This Made In America Toyota Tundra was on a roll tonight," said Wallace Jr. in victory lane. "We got into a little trouble the first pit stop, but a little adversity never hurts anybody. We come through. I'm so proud of my guys, they worked their tails off."
It was the first time that the Truck Series had raced at the 1.25-mile oval in Madison, Illinois - just east of St. Louis, Missouri - since 2010 meaning that most of the young field were getting their first taste of the venue. With the Cup and Nationwide regulars indisposed at Michigan, only nine of the 28 drivers competing this weekend had raced at Gateway before - not that this had in any way daunted Cole Custer, who had earlier in the day became the youngest pole winner in the series at the age of 16 years old, 4 months and 22 days.
Starting alongside Custer from the front row, Wallace had taken the lead from the pole sitter just before an early caution for Justin Jennings hitting the wall in turn 4. Wallace maintained the lead for the first 62 laps, but a problem on pit lane when the jack malfunctioned while the crew were still working on his rear-left wheel left the #51 with slight damage, and more seriously cost him time and position.
The points leader coming into this weekend, Matt Crafton, took over the lead of the race on an interim basis, but a restart on lap 78 following Ray Black Jr. hitting the wall after contact with Custer allowed John Hunter Nemechek to steal the lead and maintain it through to the next round of pit stops. A new caution soon followed on lap 123 when Crafton smacked the wall in turn 4 as a consequence of a right-front tyre blowing out.
"Just cut a tyre," Crafton said. "Such a fast truck and it was handling great but there was nothing I could do when the tyre goes except go into the wall."
Wallace had battled back from his early setback to put himself into a position to reclaim the lead at the restart after a thrilling duel, with his KBM team mate Erik Jones moving into second place ahead of a three-way battle for third between Nemechek, German Quiroga Jr. and Timothy Peters that came to a climax on lap 146 when Nemechek spun after following contact with Quiroga that blew out the #8's left-rear tyre, triggering a new caution.
Jones took the lead at the restart and then came under heavy pressure from Quiroga, which ended in contact that sent Jones spinning out in turn 3 with seven laps remaining. "I guess we just got dumped again," fumed Jones, unhappy with Quiroga's aggressive driving. "I don't know what to do about that. I felt like it was our race. We had a great truck and I felt like we should have been there in victory lane."
But Quiroga rejected the blame for the incident: "He started getting loose and drove in really deep into 1 and he was slowing a lot on the exit and was already sideways, and I just kept on driving straight trying not to hit him.
Wallace got a better restart at the final green flag and after some door-banging action he was finally able to move back in front of Quiroga with four laps to go, and maintained his edge at the front to the chequered flag.
“It was a wild race," said Wallace, who was disappointed that his team mate hadn't been able to be there to make it a KBM 1-2. "Such a bummer for Erik, man. Me and him were so fast. Kyle [Busch] was not in the race but [his trucks] dominated the race pretty much."
"I wish it was first and not second," said Quiroga of his evening's work, which included running out of gas just before his first pit stop of the night that had left him playing catch-up all evening. "We were really strong, we ran out of fuel, we came through the field, but it was good, my truck was really, really fast.
"I'm really happy for everyone at Red Horse Racing," he continued. "This was good for our comeback for championship points. Everyone got really excited at the end, we were defending our position, I saw an opportunity to win my first race and I didn't want to let it go, so I drove as hard as everyone else. We're getting there, getting closer to a win."
In the championship standings, Johnny Sauter moves into the lead by 10 points after finishing in fourth place behind Peters, after his team mate Matt Crafton's accident left the #88 classified in a costly 26th place. In the owners standings, the KBM #51 continues to lead despite crashing out late at Gateway, but its points advantage over the ThorSport Racing #98 is cut to just 11 points.
Full race results, plus qualifying and practice speeds and full Camping World Truck Series championship standings.