As others around him ran out of fuel, 18-year-old John Hunter Nemechek was able to get to the line and win for the first time in his Camping World Truck Series career.
As John Hunter Nemechek kept closing in on the front of the field, his competitors kept falling to the wayside.
First, Daniel Suarez was forced to pit for fuel, then Kyle Larson ran out of gas while leading the race with two of 150 laps remaining.
This is definitely a special moment and I can’t thank these guys on this team enough
John Hunter Nemechek
That left Nemechek in the lead and he nursed his No. 8 Chevrolet home on the final lap to win Saturday’s rain-delayed American Ethanol 225 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.
A proud father
The win is the first in NASCAR’s national series for the 18-year-old son of NASCAR veteran Joe Nemechek. As John Hunter’s truck coasted across the finish line, his father, Joe, chimed in over the team radio, “Hell of a job, son!”
Tyler Reddick, who was black-flagged earlier in the race for an oil leak, ended up finishing second. Timothy Peters was third, Suarez ended up fourth after pitting and Johnny Sauter was fifth.
“This is definitely a special moment and I can’t thank these guys on this team enough,” John Hunter said in Victory Lane. “We work hard in the shop to put these trucks together and do the best we can. We’ve had a few close calls, but I can’t thank everyone enough.
“I wasn’t sure where the leaders were. It was awesome to be able to save fuel and (my crew chief) wouldn’t tell me how much to save, he just kept saying, ‘Save, save, save!’ I told him I was going to save until he told me not to.”
Nemechek becomes the fourth-youngest winner in Truck series history. His previous best finish in the series was third last month at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Joe Nemechek said an early problem in the race ended up giving his son the chance for the victory.
“We had a hub cap come close, we pitted, got gas when we needed. He did a great job saving,” he said. “I just can’t thank Chevrolet enough, all the people who have helped us.
“It’s just been an incredible day, an incredible day.”
Erik Jones rebounded from a pit road speeding penalty to finish sixth and holds a 10-point lead over Reddick in the series standings with seven races remaining this season.
“We were pretty close and we were battling hard on the restart trying to get around as many trucks as I needed to,” Reddick said. “Didn’t get the track position I needed to win it on fuel mileage.
“I was battling (Nemechek) there later in the run and wasn’t able to make the pass and that turned out to be the race for the win.”
Larson, who was making his first Truck start for JR Motorsports, ended up seventh.