CLICK: Full race results from Pocono and Camping World Truck Series championship standings.
Early on Saturday afternoon is looked as though Austin Dillon might have to settle for second best behind his fellow Sprint Cup Series rookie Kyle Larson as the pair duelled for control of this week's Truck race at the unique Pocono Raceway tri-oval.
"We had fun today, it was a good day," Dillon said. "I circled this race at the beginning of the year and wanted to win it ... We put it all together to be in Victory Lane!"
Dillon and Larson's battle for Cup series rookie of the year had something of a dress rehearsal in the form of Saturday's Pocono Mountains 150, for which Larson was on pole position just as he will be for Sunday's Sprint Cup race at the same venue. He had earlier claimed his maiden NASCAR Camping World Truck Series pole position in eight starts by edging Dillon to the top spot by just 0.112s, putting Dillon alongside him on the front row for the start of the race.
Larson was able to escape at the green flag and soon set up a comfortable two second lead over Dillon, with Tyler Reddick soon dropping almost eight seconds off the back of the lead pair in third. A caution on lap 17 for Ray Black Jr. hitting the wall in turn 2 closed the field back up together, with Dillon and Reddick opting to stay off pit road under the yellow in order to pick up the lead at the restart with Larson falling back to eighth.
Larson still looked the class of the field and was soon marching back to the front by the time that Dillon came in for his own delayed first pit stop on lap 31 which put Larson back in the lead ahead of Ryan Blaney, with Cup regular Clint Bowyer in third place in the #05 Athenian Motorsports Toyota having agreed to be a late stand-in for John Wes Townley who had been stood down with a neck injury after a big crash in an ARCA support event on Friday.
Larson was soon in for his second pit top at just past the midway point of the race, and when he rejoined it was clear that he was down on power with a sputtering engine that dropped him back down the running order. He would manage to make it to the finish, but finally crossed the line in a disappointing 18th place. In his place, Bowyer went onto lead the race on two separate occasions and looked the biggest threat to Dillon's victory, but the Richard Childress Racing driver was eventually back in charge on lap 52 following a restart for Kyle Martel hitting the wall in turn 1.
No sooner had Dillon taken the lead than the race was back under caution for German Quiroga spinning Reddick on the Long Pond straight; when the race resumed with two laps to go, a seething Reddick sought out Quiroga and enacted revenge to trigger another caution, for which he was called to pit road by NASCAR and parked for the remainder of the race.
"I just tried to stay off the wall,” explained Quiroga afterwards. "I didn't mean to spin him, I don't race like that ... Reddick shouldn't be wrecking trucks going for the championship."
That left Dillon with a green-white-chequered finish to navigate, which he did with aplomb and more than a little help from Johnny Sauter to pick up his sixth victory in 60 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races and his first of 2014. His last win prior to this had been the inaugural dirt track event at Eldora Speedway in July 2013. In doing so, he brought to an end a 12-race winning streak by Toyota entries as be steered a Chevrolet Truck to victory lane.
"I gave [Dillon] the best push I could and finally pushed him too far for me to have a run at him at the end," Sauter said after crossing the line two seconds behind Dillon. "My mentality on restarts here is I don't care what's going on behind me. I'm not looking in the mirror. I'm going to keep pushing until I can't push no more, and that's basically what we did there with the #3 truck."
Bowyer finished in third place and seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed his one-off return to Truck racing for the day.
"These trucks are a blast when they draft the way they do down there," he said. "The restarts are a lot of fun, just come up a little short and got beat but had a lot of fun.
"I think honestly we were a third-place truck," Bowyer admitted. "Larson was the class of the field and luckily blew up and gave Austin and I a chance - and Austin capitalised."
In the championship standings, Ryan Blaney continues to lead after his fifth place finish at Pocono with his lead now seven points, with Johnny Sauter having moved into second place in the standings ahead of Matt Crafton, who finished out of the top ten in 14th place at the 'tricky triangle' this week.
Full race results, plus qualifying and practice speeds and full Camping World Truck Series championship standings.