By Tyson LautenschlagerAfter eight years of NASCAR not seeing the track, Rockingham Speedway is officially back because of new track president, Andy Hillenburg. Hillenburg saw a near sellout for this race, something that doesn’t happen very often in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. This first race was much-anticipated by fans and drivers. One driver specifically was very excited about this race and badly wanted to win it. Kasey Kahne. Kahne finished second to Matt Kenseth in a photo finish in the last NASCAR race at this track. After finishing second in that race it was clear to Kahne he had to get redemption. That redemption turned out very well.
The race started off with Nelson Piquet, Jr. and rookie Paulie Harraka on the front row. Harraka’s #5 Wauters Motorsports truck fell off the pace very early in the going which allowed Piquet to gain a huge advantage over the field instantly. Early on the race on lap 5, championship leader John King wiggled and went straight into the inside wall, essentially ending his day and shot at winning. King wrecked right in front of eventual winner, Kasey Kahne.
Piquet was able to keep his lead but when lap 61 came around, the caution came out for debris. Piquet led off the restart but Matt Crafton was able to take a shot at leading the race. Piquet and Crafton went back and forth with the lead until the third caution on lap 122 when David Reutimann slapped the wall and Bryan Silas got into him spinning the two trucks around. When the leaders had another round of pit stops, the Red Horse Racing #17 crew of Timothy Peters was quick enough out of pit road and led the field to the third restart of the day. Peters led one of the laps during the green flag run before Matt Crafton’s fluorescent #88 Menard’s truck took the lead back.
For the first time of the day, Kasey Kahne was able to get up to the lead on lap 155. He led for about 20 laps before we saw the final caution of the day for debris. Now, it was time for the final round of pit stops. Kasey Kahne was quick out of the pits but Nelson Piquet, Jr. was even quicker. Quicker but not on a good note, Piquet was caught speeding on the exit of pit road. This was great news for Kahne because Piquet was the only driver who could keep pace with him. Kasey Kahne and James Buescher restarted the first row for the last restart of the day but Buescher didn’t have anything for Kahne and Kasey Kahne went on to win his fourth career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race!
Kahne certainly did get sweet redemption today and was able to get team owner, Steve Turner his first truck series victory. Adding to all this, their team came home first and second. All in all, the first NASCAR race at the Rock in eight years was a success. There was a lot of action on the track today and Hillenburg was able to prove buying the track and getting NASCAR back to the track was a great idea.
Coming into the race, John King was the points leader. He drops all the way down from first to eighth. The new points leader is his teammate Timothy Peters. Justin Lofton, Ty Dillon, James Buescher, and Parker Kligerman round out the top five in points. Next up for the truck series will be Kansas Speedway next weekend. NASCAR Sprint Cup driver, Brad Keselowski will be joining the truckers and his driver Parker Kligerman for the race weekend. This is bound to be a good one!