Rain, Wrecks and Body Slams a NCWTS Adventure
32 NASCAR Camping World Trucks made a stop at the 1.25 mile oval of Gateway Motorsport Park this past weekend, providing everything a NASCAR fan could ever want. Racing, wrecking and fighting… A 160 lap race of carnage and emotions that provided race fans in St. Louis their yearly opportunity to see action on the oval of Gateway Motorsports Park.
With NASCAR Xfinity not running, 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck series champion Erik Jones made a surprise visit to run the event. As the ONLY event run on the oval of Gateway Motorsports Park, it was the first opportunity for many teams/drivers to get acclimated to the track. Drivers and teams spent much of the first two practices getting their trucks setup for the unique track that includes a compressed turns 1 & 2 and a longer turns 3 & 4. As qualifying was set to begin, the typical St. Louis summer weather took hold and unloaded a downpour. Not only did this aggravate teams in contention for the championship, it made humidity levels increase by 100%.
Thankfully after witnessing the rain and three hours of drying time in 2015, NASCAR prepared for rain and delivered a fleet of “Air Titan”.
Following hours of downtime waiting for the rain to depart and the track to be cleared, it was finally time for on-track action to resume. A beautiful sunset embraced the racetrack as the pre-race festivities began. Finally it was race time! As the free flag flew, drivers mashed the accelerator and proceeded to make their way to the front, Johnny Sauter took an early lead followed closely by William Byron. Early cautions caused by a number of competitors falling victim to engine failure allowed teams to pit, resulting in a lead change.
Tyler Reddick powered his Ford Performance truck to the lead for 41 laps until a caution and fast pit stop allowed William Byron to take over the top spot. From this point forward it was a knockdown, drag out battle to the finish. After leading a solid 47 laps, Ben Rhodes took the lead following a caution with Christopher Bell on his tail. Following an addition restart, Christopher Bell surged into the lead on Lap on Lap 119 and despite losing the lead to Rhodes on Lap 149, the Toyota Racing development driver reclaimed the lead on Lap 153 and held on for his first NCWTS win on pavement.
The event was red-flagged three times for incidents. The first for a three-truck incident in Turn 3 on Lap 120 lasted six minutes, 38 seconds. The second came 11 laps from the finish for a seven-truck accident in Turn 4 for a total of 10 minutes, 50 seconds. The final red flag broke out behind the leaders for an incident between Spencer Gallagher and John Wes Townley that lasted 12 minutes, 49 seconds.
The two drivers wrestled after climbing from their trucks and were summoned to the Truck Series hauler post-race.