Darrell Wallace Jr. held off a late charge from Christopher Bell to secure his sixth career victory in his first series start since Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2014.
Wallace made a risky three wide move on the inside of Austin Cindric and Christopher Bell late in the race to grab the lead. Wallace started ninth but many drivers throughout the field were pretty confident that the No. 99 Maestro’s Classic Chevrolet had something special underneath the hood this weekend and in the end that something special sent Wallace to victory lane.
Bell was able to hold off team owner Kyle Busch for second while Ryan Truex finished fourth and Austin Cindric rounded out the top-five.
Matt Crafton won the pole and led the field to green beside 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Johnny Sauter. Crafton took the lead early but on Lap 5, the first caution of the afternoon was flown after John Hunter Nemechek got loose under Chase Briscoe sending the No. 8 backwards into the wall ending his afternoon early.
At the end of stage one, Kyle Busch held off Briscoe to earn his seventh stage victory of the season. Briscoe finished the stage in second followed by Crafton, Ben Rhodes, Sauter, Cindric, Noah Gragson, Truex, Wallace and Bell.
Busch led the field down pit road and then led them off pit road with Truex in second, Briscoe in third, Crafton fourth and Rhodes rounding out the top-five off of pit road.
No drivers elected to stay out which meant Busch and Truex would lead the field to green under the restart. Busch would maintain the lead while Briscoe made moves into second behind Busch.
With 19 laps remaining in the second stage, Sauter had a flat ride side tire forcing him to bring the No. 21 down pit road, leaving him a lap down. Busch continued to lead but the caution would be displayed again for issues on the No. 1 truck of Jordan Anderson shortly before the end of the stage.
When the race restarted, Busch led the field to green with Cindric in second. During the restart, Truex moved to second place and began to place some pressure on the No. 51 of Busch but he would have nothing for him as Busch would cross the line for his eighth stage victory of the season and his fourth sweep of stages one and two. Truex finished second followed by Bell, Crafton, Rhodes, Kaz Grala, Justin Haley, Gragson, Briscoe, and Grant Enfinger. Nine of the top-ten all earned playoff points, Crafton would secure the most stage points of the afternoon.
Busch would lead the field down pit road once again but wouldn’t come out as the leader as drivers like Bell, Enfinger, Coughlin, Stewart Friesen, and Wallace all pitted during the Lap 51 caution which meant they needed minimal service.
Austin Cindric and Justin Haley both stayed out on the stage caution giving them the first and second spots on the restart. They would lead the field to green but just as the leaders entered turn one, Wallace made a risky maneuver back in the packed that sent the No. 13 of Coughlin hard into the inside wall putting out the fifth caution of the afternoon. Busch had a flat tire from contact with the No. 99 and he had to bring the truck down pit road for a new tire. Briscoe also had a flat left rear tire which forced the No. 29 down pit road, NASCAR would wave off the restart two more times to clean up debris from the previous crash.
At Lap 73, Cindric led the field to green with a push from Bell. Wallace would follow the No. 4 of Bell into third. Cindric would continue to lead but with 11 laps remaining, Bell made his move on the No. 19 taking the lead. Not too long after that move though, Wallace would push Cindric back to the lead and then make his own move for the lead.
While 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Busch along with Bell and Cindric all tried to retake the lead in the closing laps, none would be able to make it work and Wallace would earn his first NASCAR win of 2017.
Noteworthy Nuggets from Today’s Race
Disappointing Finish for John Hunter Nemechek
On Lap 5, John Hunter Nemechek backed his No. 8 Fire Alarm Services Chevrolet Siverado into the wall ending his afternoon early while trying to race for the second position. It was his fourth DNF of the season, but with two wins already in the bank, Nemechek doesn’t have to worry about missing the playoffs.
Coughlin’s Strong Run Derailed by Late Race Crash
Coming off of his best career finish at Pocono Raceway two weekends ago, Cody Coughlin’s strong run today at Michigan ended in a crash. Coughlin was running inside the top-15 for a majority of the afternoon and with some smart strategy at the end, found himself in fifth on a restart. That restart, though, would be the last one of the afternoon for Coughlin after Wallace got Coughlin loose, spinning him into the inside wall where he made hard contact with the inside wall. Coughlin would walk away but any chance of making the playoffs on points would be erased.