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Post-Race Reactions: Great Clips 200
Elliott Sadler and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. react after a thrilling conclusion in Phoenix.
Caution Clock expires for first time in Truck Series history
RELATED: Smith talks Caution Clock HAMPTON, Ga. -- Time became a new factor in NASCAR for the first time on Saturday, with the Caution Clock coming into play twice in the Camping World Truck Series Great Clips 200 . The first competition yellow on Lap 38 caused issues for Christopher Bell in terms of tire strategy. The second competition caution as the 20-minute clock expired also was tied to issues for Bell, but under the surface, was playing into every team's pit and tire strategy at Atlanta Motor Speedway . NASCAR introduced the caution clock in 2016, starting at Daytona International Speedway . A 20-minute timer begins counting down at the beginning of each green-flag run. If no natural caution occurs before the clock runs out, a caution will come out, giving teams the opportunity to pit, change tires and make adjustments. The Caution Clock yellow on Lap 38 came at exactly the wrong time for Bell, who was running second when a flat right front forced him to pit road on Lap 27. The team got off tire strategy as the rest of the field capitalized on four fresh tires on the race's first restart. The No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota team got back on sequence with the field when William Byron's engine blew on Lap 60, bringing out the second caution of the race. He quickly moved back into the top five and was battling Matt Crafton for the lead by Lap 92. The second Caution Clock yellow proved costly for Bell as well, but much more so for Matt Crafton and Daniel Suarez . Bell overshot his pit stall with the setting sun in his eyes and had to be backed up, losing valuable time and falling to fifth place for the restart on Lap 111. That put Bell behind Crafton and Daniel Suarez for the restart, and as Bell aggressively pushed to regain the lead, he made contact with his teammate's No. 51 Tundra. That sparked a hard wreck that took out Crafton and Suarez, but Bell snuck through. "We just had a tough day," Suarez said after being released from the infield care center. "We had the fastest truck." MORE: Crafton, Suarez involved in big wreck at Atlanta Bell's luck ran out a few laps later as his right front tire went down, sending his Toyota hard into the outside wall. Cameron Hayley was one of the drivers who got through that late wreck unscathed, and despite his own right front tire issues finished second. Hayley said after the race that the Caution Clock affected all the teams Saturday, as it played heavily into tire strategy. "It was definitely difficult. The tire was giving up really bad in the right front for a lot of us," Haley explained, saying the No. 13 ThorSport Racing Toyota didn't have a tire go down, but did have two right fronts wear all the way down to the cords. "The thing with that Caution Clock was everyone was trying to make it to that Caution Clock, and today the tire just almost didn't make it to those 20 minutes," Hayley said. "So the challenge was we had to get there when we wanted to pit sooner."
Crafton wins Keystone Light Pole Award at Atlanta
RELATED: Full lineup Matt Crafton won the Camping World Truck Series Keystone Light Pole Award on Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway and will lead the field to green to kick off the Great Clips 200 (4:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Driving the No. 88 Toyota, the ThorSport Racing driver soared to the top of the leaderboard with a speed of 179.790 mph. The two-time Camping World Truck Series champion is also the defending race winner and the only previous winner in Saturday's field. John Wes Townley will start second to Crafton in his No. 05 Athenian Motorsports Chevrolet. Christopher Bell , Grant Enfinger and Cameron Hayley complete the top five in the starting lineup. Enfinger led two of the three Truck Series practices on Friday. Norm Benning , Timothy Viens , Ryan Ellis , Korbin Forrister and Jordan Anderson failed to qualify.
Grant Enfinger tops final practice at Atlanta
Practice 3 " Full results For the second time Friday, Grant Enfinger topped the Camping World Truck Series practice leaderboard at Atlanta Motor Speedway , wheeling his No. 33 Chevrolet at a 178.775 mph clip in the final session. Enfinger, who will make just his second Truck Series start since 2012 this weekend at Atlanta, also paced the field in the opening session this morning. Veteran wheelman Matt Crafton was second-fastest, propelling his No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota at 178.00 mph around the 1.54-mile track. Christopher Bell rounded out the top three with a fast lap of 177.938 mph behind the wheel of his No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports ride. GMS Racing's Spencer Gallagher (177.681 mph) and JR Motorsports' Cole Custer (177.635 mph) were fourth and fifth on the speed charts, respectively. A blown tire from Garrett Smithley 's No. 63 truck brought out the red flag briefly. The final leg of the third practice was marked by mock qualifying runs, as the series will qualify Saturday, Feb. 27 at 10 a.m. ET (FS1) for the Great Clips 200 (4:30 p.m. ET, FS1). Practice 2 " Full results Clocking in at 178.224 mph in his No. 05 Chevrolet, John Wes Townley made a late surge to the top of the leaderboard in the second of Friday's Truck Series practice trio at Atlanta Motor Speedway . Townley was fifth-fastest in opening practice. Daniel Hemric came up second, wheeling his No. 19 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford at 177.795 mph around the Georgia track. K&N Pro Series East champion William Byron was third on the charts, his No. 9 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota reaching a top speed of 177.368 mph. Reigning race winner and 2014 Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton was fourth-fastest, his No. 88 ThorSport Racing truck rounding the track at 176.882 mph. Red Horse Racing's Ben Kennedy rounded out the top five with a fast lap of 176.701 mph in his No. 11 ride. Grant Enfinger, who led the opening Truck Series practice, came up 10th on the speed charts, his No. 33 Chevrolet reaching 175.833 mph. Korbin Forrister brought out the caution less than 10 minutes into practice, as his No. 59 truck spun across the track leaving pit road. No contact was made with any other trucks. Practice 1 " Full results Grant Enfinger led the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' opening practice at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday with a high speed of 179.574 mph. The No. 33 driver's fastest speed came on Lap 2 of 20 laps. Last week, Enfinger won the Keystone Light Pole Award for the season-opening race at Daytona. Christopher Bell was second-fastest to Enfinger at 178.816 mph. Bell was involved in a scary last-lap wreck in last week's NextEra Energy Resources 250 that had his No. 4 Toyota lifted off the track and sent barrel-rolling down the frontstretch. Defending race winner Matt Crafton was third-fastest at 178.310 mph. Daniel Hemric (177.858 mph) and John Wes Towny (177.858 mph) tied for fourth-fastest. William Byron was just behind them at 177.493 mph.
John Hunter Nemechek wins wild Atlanta Truck race
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings HAMPTON, Ga. – In a wild race that saw some of the best trucks in the field destroyed before the finish, John Hunter Nemechek held off Cameron Hayley in a two-lap dash to the checkers to win Saturday's Great Clips 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway . But it was a skull session with 2014 Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick the night before that was instrumental in guiding Nemechek to victory in his unsponsored No. 8 Chevrolet. "I've got to give a shout-out," said Nemechek, who was racing at AMS for the first time. "I can't thank Kevin Harvick enough. I went and sat with him for about 30 minutes to an hour last night, trying to learn everything I could." Obviously, the lesson paid off. After extensive cleanup from Christopher Bell 's hard crash into the Turn 4 wall, Nemechek chose the inside line for a restart on Lap 199 of 200 . When John Wes Townley spun his tires in the outside lane, Nemechek pulled away to beat Hayley to the stripe by .305 seconds. The victory was Nemechek's second in 32 Truck Series starts and his second on a 1.5-mile intermediate speedway, the first coming last year at Chicagoland Speedway . At 18 years, 8 months and 16 days, Nemechek is the youngest NASCAR national series winner at Atlanta. Before the family-owned team with a shoestring budget could get to Victory Lane, however, attrition took care of the drivers who led the majority of laps leading up to the finish. Two corners after a restart on Lap 112 — following the race's second expiration of the 20-minute caution clock — Bell lost the nose of his No. 4 Toyota, hooked Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Daniel Suarez 's No. 51 Tundra and turned Suarez into race leader Matt Crafton , who had spent 76 circuits at the front of the field. MORE: Caution Clock expires for first time in CWTS " Bell triggers big wreck The trucks of Crafton and Suarez were damaged beyond repair, leaving Bell, who lead 42 of the 130 laps, to grab the top spot after the subsequent restart on Lap 116. Bell pulled away, but on Lap 123, a tire rub resulting from the earlier contact finally popped the right front, and Bell’s Toyota swerved straight into the outside wall in Turn 4. Behind Nemechek and Hayley, Timothy Peters came home third, followed by Daniel Hemric and Grant Enfinger, respectively. Nemechek was circumspect about the circumstances surrounding his conversation with Harvick, but the information he received was clearly valuable. "That's kind of a secret," said Nemechek, who got pit crew help from Jimmie Johnson 's No. 48 Sprint Cup team. "But Kevin's one of the best racers here in Atlanta, so I had to ask him. He's very good at conserving tires, very good at winning races here, so to go and talk to him was very special." Nemechek also got advice from his father and team owner Joe Nemechek , who won a NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Atlanta in 2001. Eighth-place finisher Parker Kligerman took the lead in the series standings by one point over Hemric and three over Nemechek. The afternoon proved expensive for Kyle Busch , who as a driver won the first leg of the Saturday doubleheader in the XFINITY Series race, only to lose three trucks as an owner in the nightcap. In addition to the wrecked trucks of Bell and Suarez, Busch also had to write off the engine of William Byron, which blew on lap 59, with Byron running second.
Nemechek celebrates second career NCWTS win
John Hunter Nemechek talks in Victory Lane after winning the Great Clips 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Bell hits wall while leading at Atlanta
Christopher Bell gets loose and runs into the wall while leading in the Great Clips 200 .
Korbin Forrister avoids serious crash
Korbin Forrister comes off pit road and nearly crashes into cars during practice for the Great Clips 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Trio of NASCAR Hall of Famers named Darlington grand marshals
Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick and Mark Martin , all of whom will be inducted into the 2017 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, will serve as Grand Marshals for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, Sept. 4. All three will give the command to start engines accompanied by Bojangles' CEO Clifton Rutledge. Childress, Hendrick and Martin's involvement in the Bojangles' Southern 500 further enhances the track's throwback platform of celebrating the history and heritage of the sport. Childress and Hendrick are two of the most successful owners in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history. " Darlington Raceway is one of my favorite racetracks. I remember going there when I was very young and seeing some of my heroes race there," Childress said. "Now, it's really neat to say that I'm going to be the grand marshal for the race, and I couldn't think of two better people to do it alongside of than Mark Martin and Rick Hendrick. The race weekend is already special enough with the 'throwback' theme, but this will make it that much more special." Childress and his team, Richard Childress Racing , have posted 105 NSCS wins since he founded the team in 1969. His team has recorded 472 top-five NSCS finishes and won 12 national series championships, which is second all-time in the sport's history. RCR is the first organization to win championships in all three of NASCAR's national series. Much of his success came with driver Dale Earnhardt, who won 67 career Cup races for RCR, including eight victories at Darlington Raceway . Hendrick, founder of Hendrick Motorsports in 1984, owns an all-time record 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car owner championship titles -- six with Jimmie Johnson , four with Jeff Gordon and one with Terry Labonte . Hendrick also has 14 total NASCAR national series owner championships, which is most in NASCAR history. His drivers have won 242 NSCS races with 1,000 top-five finishes. He has 14 NASCAR Cup wins at Darlington Raceway , including seven with Gordon. Johnson's victory at Darlington in 2012 gave Hendrick his 200th career NSCS win in the sport. "Darlington is very special to me, and I'm so grateful to the track for this honor," Hendrick said. "It’s still sinking in that I'm a part of such an incredible Hall of Fame class. Richard and Mark are great friends and competitors, and it means a lot to share these experiences with them." In a 31-year career, Martin won 40 career NASCAR Cup races, including the 1993 and 2009 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway . He also won eight NASCAR XFINITY Series races at Darlington, which is still the most in series history. "It is my honor to be co-grand marshal for the Bojangles' Southern 500 with two of my heroes," said Martin. "Richard Childress and Rick Hendrick are two of my favorite people in racing. I'm also looking forward to being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame with them, along with Benny Parsons and Raymond Parks in January." Rutledge, who has served as Bojangles' CEO for the past three years, will say the command alongside three of the sports legends. Rutledge gave the command with 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Terry Labonte before last year's Bojangles' Southern 500 . "I am blessed to represent Bojangles' and give the command to start the Bojangles' Southern 500 alongside three legends of the sport, Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick and Mark Martin ," Rutledge said. "Bojangles' is proud to be the entitlement partner of the Southern 500, a partnership we've enjoyed since 2012." The Famous Chicken 'n' Biscuits restaurant chain has more than 680 locations throughout the Southeast. Bojangles' has the naming rights to the Southern 500 through the 2019 season. The NASCAR Hall of Fame inductions ceremonies will take place in January of 2017 in Charlotte, N.C. The Tradition Continues on Labor Day weekend as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 ® is set for Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. The NASCAR XFINITY Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 will race on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. Tickets are still available for all events.
Christopher Bell recounts harrowing Daytona wreck
HAMPTON, Ga. -- Time away from the driver's seat is not a friend, not after a barrel roll down Daytona International Speedway 's frontstretch. One week removed from his frightening tumble, Christopher Bell is eager to get on the track again and put his dramatic wreck in the season opener behind him. Bell, who is in his first full NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, has flipped sprint cars a time or two, but his crash in the No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota was a first in stock-car racing. It was different in several ways, including having more time to think about the wreck afterward. "In the open-wheel program, you race 100 races a year so you flip on Saturday and you're back racing on Sunday," the 21-year-old driver said before Friday's NCWTS practice at Atlanta Motor Speedway . "Luckily, we didn't have a huge break where you sit there and ponder it. So I'm looking forward to today and tomorrow to get Daytona behind us and I hope to start fresh." The physics of wrecking in NASCAR are different as well. "The biggest thing about the stock car is it might not hurt as bad because you've got more material around you, but the G forces are say more. I think the biggest thing is you're sitting to the left compared to an open-wheel car, you're sitting in the center of the car so everything is flipping around you. In the stock cars, you're off to the side of the truck, so whenever you start barrel rolling, you know, it's trying to throw you out of the car." Bell did start fresh and fast on Friday, posting the second-fastest speed of 178.816 mph in the Truck Series' first practice for Saturday's Great Clips 200 (4:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). He's competing in the truck that Erik Jones drove to the series championship in 2015. And he feels fine. "When I stopped, you got a lot of adrenaline, so I felt really good. … But walking to the ambulance I was pretty dizzy and by the time I got there, I was really dizzy. As far as injuries, other than a little bit of bruising, I mean my face was a little bruised afterwards, but other than that I was fine. The next morning I felt 100 percent until I got out of bed, and once I got out of bed, I realized I couldn't move quite as fast. But after a couple days that was all gone, and I was good to go." Bell is hopeful to keep pushing strong speed into Saturday's race with some solid testing at Atlanta under the team's belt. He got his first win while running seven races for KBM in 2015, taking the checkered flag at Eldora Speedway and is eager for another trip to Victory Lane. But first, Bell is grateful to get back to racing and past the wreck. He said the accident could have been worse if the truck had taken a hard hit to the nose or been hit by another truck rather than dissipating energy as it rolled down the track. "Looking back at it, I saw Larson's crash then Austin Dillon last year," Bell said. "You think, 'That's never going to happen to me. That'll never happen to me.' Then suddenly it is happening to you. Watching it was an eye opener. Even after I went through the crash it didn't sink in, but whenever I got to watching myself flipping, it's like 'Wow, that did happen to me.' It puts it in perspective."