Todd Gilliland Takes Knoxville Trucks Victory
Moonlit in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Todd Gilliland took control of Saturday night’s Clean Harbors 150 after the sun went down at Knoxville Raceway.
Gilliland took the lead from John Hunter Nemechek for the last time on lap 140 of 150 and pulled away after a restart on lap 147 to beat Nemechek to the finish line by 0.945s and win in his first start of the season and for the third time in his career.
On the eve of Father’s Day, during a week off from his full-time NASCAR Cup Series run with Front Row Motorsports, Gilliland handed the victory to his father and team owner, David Gilliland.
“It will make tomorrow a lot more fun,” said Gilliland, who plans to enjoy brunch and golf with his dad on Sunday. “The Cup Series is tough, it’s just about racing every week. A million people have asked me, ‘Is that really what you want to do on your rest week?’
“Absolutely. Nothing beats racing. I tell everyone I’m young and I wish I could do this every week of the year…I love trucks. I’ve raced here forever, this was like. So to be able to come back and have one, it’s so special.
By winning the race, Gilliland fulfilled his father’s wish.
“I told him when the race started, all I want for Father’s Day is this trophy,” David Gilliland said. “We’ll take him home on the plane with us.”
But the race wasn’t decided until the sun also set on Carson Hocevar’s towering truck.
Still recovering from a fractured right tibia suffered two weeks ago in St. Louis, Hocevar took the lead from pole winner Derek Kraus on the opening lap and didn’t let him down until his engine expires after a restart on lap 66.
“I’m exploding,” exclaimed Hocevar over team radio before stopping his #42 Niece Motorsports in Turn 1. “No oil pressure – totally freaking out. Unbelievable!”
Coincidentally, the engine of the #41 Chevrolet Niece driven by Tyler Carpenter failed on the exact same lap. Carpenter had made his series debut by winning the Super Late Model division at the Gateway Dirt Nationals in St. Louis in December.
Hocevar’s abrupt exit gave the lead to Gilliland, who held onto it from Lap 66 until the conclusion of Stage 2 on Lap 90.
Brett Moffitt, Grant Finallyger, Kaz Grala and Buddy Kofoid opted not to stop during the second stage break and came back from the top four on lap 92. Moffitt took a comfortable lead but was black flagged for sprinting before the restart zone.
The penalty for the infringement – a pass through the pit area – dropped Moffitt to 21st in the running order and gave the lead to Finallyger, who held the lead for 10 laps before Gilliland resumed the point on lap 102.
Nemechek took the lead on the restart lap and held it until Gilliland took it back 17 homers later.
Gilliland is the 11th different winner of the 11 track races in NASCAR Truck Series history.
Zane Smith finished third on Saturday, followed by Ty Majeski and Stewart Friesen, who was a contender for victory until a cut tire on the final lap of Stage 1 dropped him to 22nd in the order shopping.
Rounding out the top 10 were Kraus, Matt Crafton, Dernierger, Tyler Ankrum and Ben Rhodes. Nemechek reclaimed the series lead by five points over Rhodes.
1. (9) Todd Gilliland(i), Ford, 150.
2. (6) John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 150 years old.
3. (15) Zane Smith, Ford, 150.
4. (7) Ty Majeski, Toyota, 150.
5. (4) Stewart Friesen, Toyota, 150.
6. (1) Derek Kraus, Chevy, 150.
7. (21) Matt Crafton, Toyota, 150.
8. (11) Grant Finallyger, Chevy, 150.
9. (13) Tyler Ankrum, Toyota, 150.
10. (3) Ben Rhodes, Toyota, 150.
11. (5) Buddy Kofoid, Toyota, 150.
12. (20) Christian Eckes, Toyota, 150 years old.
13. (10) Chandler Smith, Toyota, 150.
14. (12) Matt DiBenedetto, Chevy, 150.
15. (8) Hailie Deegan, Ford, 150.
16. (22) Colby Howard, Chevy, 150.
17. (30) Dylan Westbrook, Chevy, 150.
18. (34) Lawless Alan #, Chevrolet, 150.
19. (28) Timmy Hill, Toyota, 150.
20. (27) Chase Purdy, Toyota, 150 years old.
21. (36) Jack Wood#, Chevy, 149.
22. (16) Tanner Gray, Ford, 149.
23. (18) Dean Thompson #, Chevy, 148.
24. (24) Joey Gase(i), Toyota, 148.
25. (32) Blaine Perkins#, Chevy, 148.
26. (17) Kaz Grala, Chevy, 148.
27. (31) Brayton Laster, Chevy, 147.
28. (25) Kris Wright, Chevy, 145.
29. (35) Spencer Boyd, Chevy, 142.
30. (33) Devon Rouse, Chevy, 140.
31. (29) Thad Moffitt, Chevy, 139.
32. (23) Brett Moffitt(i), Chevrolet, Crash, 124.
33. (26) Bryson Mitchell, Toyota, throttle, 110.
34. (19) Jessica Friesen, Toyota, brakes, 76.
35. (2) Carson Hocevar, Chevrolet, Motor, 66.
36. (14) Tyler Carpenter, Chevrolet, driveshaft, 65.