The UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway served as the first battleground for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase playoffs. Already some of the eight contending drivers were met with adversity and will need to make up for it in the upcoming two events of this round. In the end, William Byron grabbed the first victory of the playoffs and earned entry into round two.
Here are three takeaways from event one of the Chase:
KBM Puts Everyone on Notice
From the drop of the green flag, Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates and Chase contenders Byron and Christopher Bell dominated the 175 lap race. Many drivers tried various pit strategy, but they were no match for the Toyota-powered organization. Byron and Bell executed a flawless race, led a total of 171 laps and finished first and second respectively.
The strong showing from the organization secured them as early favorites for the championship. If either of the two rookies were to grab the title this year, they would be among the youngest Truck Series champions – Byron (18) would be the youngest ever.
Problems Are Going to Come
Among the Chase contenders, Daniel Hemric did not have the happiest of days. Early on in the race, the 25-year-old driver suffered a flat left-rear tire and sustained minor damage. After repairs on pit road, the driver was several laps down, and couldn’t recover. He finished 28th.
The No. 19 team now stands eighth, 21 points from safety. Two drivers will be eliminated after the event at Talladega Superspeedway. To advance to the next round, Hemric might need a little luck to pull through. However, problems are bound to happen for other contenders as well – especially with a restrictor plate event looming in two weeks. Perhaps the team just needs to focus and stay consistent.
Won’t Back Down
Just because they’re not in the Chase, doesn’t mean they’re going to back down. It might serve as a surprise that several non-chase drivers earned strong top-10 finishes Saturday afternoon. Tyler Reddick secured his fifth top-5 of the season and rookie Cole Custer placed sixth. Furthermore, part-time Truck Series competitors Kaz Grala and Brett Moffitt finished seventh and eighth respectively.
Drivers like these might be a source of aggravation for the Chase contenders, but they prove how talented and competitive the Truck Series field is. While they might not be scraping for a title, their season isn’t over until the last lap at Homestead-Miami Speedway – and victory lane remains on their mind.
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