Hill storms to victory in shortened Vans race


WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Pole-sitter Austin Hill gained the NASCAR Truck Sequence race at Watkins Glen Worldwide on Saturday, taking the victory when lightning struck close by and rain halted the race with 11 laps to go.

Hill held off John Hunter Nemechek on a restart with 15 laps left as thunderstorms neared, with Sheldon Creed, Todd Gilliland and Parker Kligerman in shut pursuit. The race was red-flagged due to a lightning strike and with an Xfinity Sequence race on deck.

It was Hill’s second win of the season and eighth of his profession. Nemechek was second, adopted by Creed, Gilliland and Kligerman.

“Lastly, we had a race the place the truck does every part that we wanted it to do,” Hill mentioned. “I used to be actually biting my nails somewhat bit when the rains got here. It is actually particular to get a win at Watkins Glen.”

It was the ultimate occasion of the common season for the Truck Sequence, and the 10-driver discipline was set for the playoffs. It’s, so as of seeding, Nemechek, Hill, Ben Rhodes, Gilliland, Creed, Zane Smith, Matt Crafton, Carson Hocevar, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith.

Nemechek had already clinched the regular-season championship in his first season driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He has 5 victories amongst his 9 top-five finishes and 12 top-10s and entered the race with 49 playoff factors, greater than double that of some other driver.

“It means so much,” Nemechek mentioned. “The crew’s been working onerous. I really feel like, having these [points], now we have an enormous cushion.”

The playoffs begin Aug. 20 at Gateway in St. Louis.

Smith might have been knocked out of the playoffs, and bother rapidly struck when he spun within the first flip of the 72-lap race across the 2.45-mile Watkins Glen structure. He dropped to thirty first and down a lap, received the lap again later, and completed 18th.

“I suppose the man behind me [Nemechek] did not cease and bumped into the facet of us and spun us out,” mentioned Smith, who needed to change tires and was assessed a pit highway penalty. “Coming again by the pack, simply numerous adversity. Not the way in which you need to begin the playoffs. We’ll take it.”

Johnny Sauter, the 2018 collection champion, wanted a win to safe a spot within the playoffs however by no means challenged. He completed twenty fourth.

Street race ace AJ Allmendinger, an everyday within the Xfinity Sequence, was tabbed to drive the No. 23 Chevrolet for GMS Racing after Chase Purdy examined constructive for COVID-19. Purdy was experiencing delicate signs however was pressured to overlook the race consistent with NASCAR protocol and CDC pointers.

It was Allmendinger’s first Truck Sequence begin since 2008, and he responded with a robust displaying after beginning close to the again of the 40-truck discipline. Allmendinger, whose lone Cup Sequence victory got here at Watkins Glen in 2014, was as much as third heading to the ultimate stage however had an prolonged pit cease earlier than the inexperienced flag flew to start out the stage and needed to go to the again of the sphere. He completed twenty eighth.

Gilliland dominated the primary stage, main 15 laps after hounding Hill for the opening 5 laps.

It was the sixth Truck Sequence race at Watkins Glen Worldwide and first since Greg Biffle gained in 2000.

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