By Chris Knight
NASCAR Wire Service
Distributed by The Sports Xchange
MADISON, Ill. -- In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series triumphant return to Gateway (Ill.) Motorsports Park, Darrell Wallace Jr. pulled off his second career victory Saturday night in his 29th career start.
Wallace Jr. posted his first win at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway last October and tweeted Friday afternoon that he compared the 1.25-mile racetrack to the legendary Virginia paperclip. A day later, there's light at the end of the tunnel for the Kyle Busch Motorsports driver after a frustrating start to 2014.
On Saturday afternoon, Haas Racing development driver Cole Custer picked up his first career pole in just his third series start. Furthermore, the NASCAR Next driver became the youngest winning pole-sitter in NASCAR National Series history at age 16 years, 4 months, 22 days.
At the drop of the green flag, Wallace grabbed the lead from Custer and led the opening laps of the Drivin' for Linemen 200. Despite two early race cautions, green flag pit stops began on Lap 57 with Wallace electing to make his first trip to pit road on Lap 62, when German Quiroga Jr. inherited the top spot.
While many of the leaders continued the cycle of green flag pit stops, NTS Motorsports' Gray Gaulding ran out of fuel while running inside the top five, forcing the third caution of the race.
Meanwhile, John Hunter Nemechek, who slapped the wall in his opening laps of practice Friday, grabbed the lead when Quiroga pitted. The yellow flag undoubtedly shuffled the running order, which put reigning Truck Series champion Matt Crafton on the point for the Lap 73 restart.
A quick caution for Ray Black Jr. on Lap 74 allowed the 11 waive-around trucks from the previous caution to catch the remaining lead lap trucks with Crafton in command.
On the restart, however, Nemechek made an impressive move around Crafton to retake the lead on Lap 78, Nemechek held the lead until Crafton was able to rundown the teenage sensation on Lap 122. But three laps later, Crafton blew the right front tire slamming his No. 88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota Tundra into the Turn 4 wall.
"The tire just popped," said Crafton, who came into the seventh race of the season as the points leader.
With the No. 88 team done for the night, the attention turned back to NEMCO Motorsports' Nemechek, who led the field down pit road for what many expected to be the final stop of the night.
A quick 16.6-second stop by the No. 8 crew kept the recently turned 17-year-old in control of the field with Wallace, Erik Jones, Timothy Peters and Quiroga inside the top-five.
The green flag flew with 27 laps remaining with Wallace making the move entering Turn 1 on Nemechek. By the time the trucks screamed out of Turns 3 and 4, three-wide racing ensued with Nemechek in the middle of a Kyle Busch Motorsports sandwich, with Erik Jones also pedaling into the mix.
Through the controlled chaos, Wallace thundered his No. 54 Toyota Tundra into the spot ahead of teammate Jones, Nemechek and the Red Horse Racing duo of Quiroga and Peters.
With the KBM trucks riding 1-2, the best battle on the racetrack came from behind between Nemechek and Quiroga. Inside the final 15 circuits, while battling for that podium finish, Nemechek lost a left rear tire after contact with the No. 77, which spun him in Turns 3 and 4 with 13 laps remaining.