The New Closer? Nemechek Comes out of Nowhere to Win at Martinsville

John Hunter Nemechek won the snow-delayed Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville. The race started on Saturday and finished on Monday. The race featured 10 yellow flags and one very long red flag.

As pace laps begun on Saturday, snow flurries started falling. However, the snow stopped and the drivers were given the green flag. Ben Rhodes and Matt Crafton battled side-by-side early, but pole winner Rhodes would prevail exiting turn two on the second lap. A couple laps in, Noah Gragson got into Myatt Snider, bowing out his left rear fender. On lap 15, the first caution of the day came out for Mike Senica missing the garage entrance and stalling on pit road. He and his crew chief were called into the NASCAR hauler because he was reluctant to come in after NASCAR told him to. He was parked by NASCAR because of this. During this caution, snow and rain started falling heavier and NASCAR brought everyone down pit road and threw the red flag after 23 laps. Not long after, NASCAR called the race.

Once the race began on Monday, Matt Crafton took the lead from Ben Rhodes early, but Rhodes took it right back. With only five to go in stage one, Jennifer Jo Cobb had a brake issue, and they caught fire on her No. 10 truck. There was no caution. Rhodes won stage one, and Thorsport swept the top three spots with Matt Crafton and Grant Enfinger taking second and third respectively. On the pit stops, Stewart Friesen took two tires, which elevated him from seventh to first. Cody Coughlin was held a lap because he pitted outside his box.

On the restart, Friesen battled Rhodes for a few laps, but Rhodes prevailed. Not long after losing the lead, Friesen spun into the wall after contact with Johnny Sauter. Harrison Burton, Tyler Matthews and Robby Lyons also spun. Cody Coughlin and Austin Hill sustained damage. Everyone involved would continue. Friesen’s day would effectively end after a two-lap penalty due to having too many men over the wall under the crash clock.

On the restart, Rhodes and Todd Gilliland gave each other a hard time, neither giving an inch. After several laps, Rhodes prevailed on the inside line. After about 45 laps in stage two, Stewart Friesen get into Tyler Matthews, sending Matthews into the outside wall. Matthews, though, would continue. Grant Enfinger, Dalton Sargeant, and several others pitted, but most stayed out. On the restart with 18 to go in stage two, Rhodes cleared Gilliland quickly as the field fought behind them. Rhodes was able to win stage two ahead of Gilliland and Johnny Sauter, who powered by Matt Crafton in the waning laps of the stage.

Kyle Benjamin and Dalton Sargeant, who pitted on the caution for Matthews, stayed out, while everyone else pitted. Austin Hill was first off pit road after taking no tires, while Grant Enfinger was second off after taking two tires. Former leader Ben Rhodes, as well as Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter had slow pit stops, putting them back in the field.

On the restart, Kyle Benjamin jumped away, clearing the others quickly as everybody jockeyed for position behind him. With about 90 laps remaining, Tyler Matthews and Justin Fontaine were involved in an incident, resulting in heavy front-end damage for Fontaine. The damage would end Fontaine’s day, but Matthews would continue.

When the green flag flew again, Benjamin cleared second-place Grant Enfinger, with Todd Gilliland a close third. With just over 60 to go, Gilliland was able to get by Enfinger after a spirited battle for the position. With 37 laps left, the caution came out for debris, setting up a shootout for the win. Under caution, much of the field outside of the top five pitted.

The race went back green with 31 laps to go, and John Hunter Nemechek dove to the bottom three-wide and stole the lead away from Gilliland and Benjamin. With 27 to go, Matt Crafton slammed into the back of a slowing Johnny Sauter. Sauter had reported voltage issues earlier in the race. Crafton continued with heavy front-end damage.

The green flag came back out, and Nemechek easily took the lead, and, once again, chaos erupted behind him, as, with 17 to go, Robby Lyons had an engine issue, bringing out the race’s ninth yellow flag. Under yellow, Todd Gilliland come to pit road for four tires, despite there being only 15 laps to go.

On the restart with 12 laps left, Nemechek cleared Benjamin, but the caution came out once again for a spin by the heavily-damaged No. 20 truck driven by Reid Wilson. The final restart came with seven laps remaining, and Nemechek battled with Benjamin, but cleared him after about a lap. Benjamin closely trailed Nemechek in the final couple of laps, but, despite a bump by Benjamin off turn four, Nemechek took home the win.

Here are the full results from the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville Speedway:

  1. John Hunter Nemechek
  2. Kyle Benjamin (Truck Series Debut)
  3. Brett Moffitt
  4. Grant Enfinger
  5. Noah Gragson
  6. Myatt Snider (Rookie)
  7. Timothy Peters
  8. Harrison Burton
  9. Austin Hill
  10. Justin Haley
  11. Dalton Sargeant (Rookie)
  12. Ben Rhodes (Stages 1 and 2)
  13. Cory Roper (Truck Series Debut)
  14. Todd Gilliland (Rookie)
  15. Matt Crafton
  16. Reid Wilson (Truck Series Debut)
  17. Dawson Cram (Truck Series Debut)
  18. Wendell Chavous
  19. Johnny Sauter
  20. Stewart Friesen
  21. Tyler Matthews (Truck Series Debut)
  22. Jordan Anderson
  23. Kyle Donahue (Electrical)
  24. Robby Lyons (Engine)
  25. Josh Reaume
  26. Cody Coughlin
  27. Austin Wayne Self (Electrical)
  28. Justin Fontaine (Rookie) (Crash)
  29. Jennifer Jo Cobb (Electrical)
  30. Kevin Donahue (Brakes)
  31. Norm Benning (Minimum Speed)
  32. Mike Senica (Parked)

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