LEBANON, Tenn. — David Gilliland Racing has done it again. After Todd Gilliland won in the No. 17 truck last week at Knoxville, Ryan Preece won the Rackley Roofing 200 for the second consecutive season. Unlike last year where he only led seven laps, Preece was the man to beat for much of this year’s race, leading 74 of 150 laps.
But, it nearly went all away for the now two-time Nashville winner. After commanding the field more than a second lead, both Zane Smith and Carson Hocevar closed in on Preece with two to go.
As the trio entered Turn 1, Preece lost tremendous ground but cut air of Smith on the backstretch. Then, in the final few corners, he pulled away. It rose the bar for the battle for second as Smith edged Hocevar at the line.
For Preece, the polesitter for the race, also earned an additional $50,000 bonus thanks to the Triple Truck Challenge.
“I don’t ever like it to be that close, but my hat’s off to DGR and this Hunt Brothers Ford F-150. I’m really happy,” Preece said. “Scott Hunt and the Hunt Brothers crew and all of them are here tonight for this one. We’ve got a second guitar. I may have to start a band.”
The race drew close late because of pit and tire strategy. Preece’s No. 17 Hunt Brothers Ford F-150 stayed out while Smith opted to get fresh tires.
“Probably tires, more so. Heat cycles like they do. There are a lot of things. The trucks are really draggy, probably under horsepower, so everything is momentum,” Preece said. “Once your truck is not handling 100 percent, you’ve got to do everything you can to maximize your roll speed and if you struggle that little bit in the draft, once that truck gets the sniff of the track, and I think Zane having those new tires behind him.
“It’s just propelling him forward and giving him that much more straight-line speed. I saw it with about six to go. I was happy he didn’t get there any sooner because I knew if he was gonna have one shot, we were gonna do our best to hold onto the lead and not give it away, and that’s what we did.”
Smith scored his eighth top-five of the season, but after a costly pit stop during the race, it became an uphill battle for him. If there was one thing he felt that would’ve helped win the race, it was definitely clean air.
“Ryan did a great job shutting my air off. Just really tough to pass,” said Smith. “Once we had that real bad stop, we lost 10 spots, so I was worried. To battle back there and contend for a win says a lot for my team. Just another fast Ford, but not quite enough.”
Hocevar had an eventful night, notably in Stage 2 when he tangled with John Hunter Nemechek on the backstretch. The contact sent Nemechek around while Hocevar sustained right front damage that required repairs.
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) June 25, 2022
Regarding the madness, Hocevar doesn’t expect any retaliation because he puts the blame on Nemechek.
As for the rest of his night, Hocevar recovered to get his best result since his last-lap crash at Gateway, which he appreciated.
“It felt like we restarted 36th twice to finish back in third,” said Hocevar. “It was good to just finally finish a race without anything dumb happening. We were able to persevere and do what we had to do in strategy.”
Many drivers felt frustrated after Friday’s race, such as Jack Wood, who was eliminated early in the race after being turned by Matt Crafton. Wood finished 35th.
“I think it was just hard racing there, I was trying to come down the racetrack as Matt was coming up at the same time,” Wood said. “Matt’s a good guy, I don’t think he meant to do that on purpose, but for me it’s just frustrating.
“It’s been a tough season, and I thought that this was going to be the race that we turned it all around. It’s tough to end up near last, but unfortunately, there’s nothing that we can do, and I’m proud of everyone at Team Chevy and GMS Racing for working as hard as they do. We just have to keep biding our time and hold our heads down and keep digging.”
Others in Nashville were beyond irate, notably Matt DiBenedetto and Parker Kligerman due to separate incidents.
First, with 24 laps remaining, Ty Majeski went four wide underneath DiBenedetto, Corey Heim and Grant Enfinger entering Turn 3 in a battle for sixth. DiBenedetto went forward of Majeski but suddenly, they crashed.
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) June 25, 2022
Majeski sent DiBenedetto into the wall and also wiped out Heim and Enfinger as both had hard hits. All drivers were OK, but all couldn’t finish the race besides Majeski, who finished fourth.
“We were four-wide going into turn three there, and just got wrecked,” Enfinger said. “Four wide at Nashville probably ain’t going to work most of the time, and getting down to the end of the race, everyone was getting crazy like always in these truck races.
“Just a tough break, everyone at GMS Racing and GMS Fabrication has been working so hard. I feel like we hit on some stuff that was a little promising, we didn’t get it dialed in during the race, but hopefully, we’ve got a direction for some more promising runs this year. I just hate it. I hate it bad.”
DiBenedetto wasn’t happy with the way Majeski put him and others in a vulnerable situation that he’s reached his breaking point. Rather than speaking with the drivers, he’ll retaliate.
Matt DiBenedetto was upset with Ty Majeski making it four-wide, resulting in a big crash at Nashville. pic.twitter.com/WoEaie5Nw9
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) June 25, 2022
As for Kligerman, a top-10 finish went south after Derek Kraus moved him out of the way in Turn 3 at the finish. Kligerman showed his displeasure to Kraus by frantically showing him the damage he caused that relegated him to a 20th place finish.
@pkligerman letting @derek9kraus HAVE IT. Dude just took him out didn’t even try to race him for one corner. With all the issues Parker had with his truck was running 11th with 3 to go and Kraus ran out of talent there. pic.twitter.com/7UiHKaxY3o
— Austin Paul (@AustinLee_3) June 25, 2022
One driver smiling from ear to ear after the race was Max Gutierrez. In his second career start, the former ARCA East winner finished eighth for AM Racing’s No. 22 team that’s primarily driven by Austin Wayne Self.
Following Nashville, there are just two races left in the regular season as the series will have an off week before heading to Mid-Ohio for the first time. Live coverage of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 150 begins Saturday, July 9 at 1:30 p.m. ET on FS1.
Stage 1 Results: Z. Smith, Preece, Heim, Friesen, C. Smith, Hocevar, Kraus, Majeski, DiBenedetto, Eckes
Stage 2 Results: Preece, Z. Smith, Heim, Eckes, Friesen, Kraus, Rhodes, Majeski, Bodine, Enfinger
Final Top 10 Results: Preece, Z. Smith, Hocevar, Majeski, Friesen, Eckes, Ankrum, Gutierrez, Nemechek, Crafton