Stewart Friesen overtook Christian Eckes in overtime to win the SpeedyCash.com 220 at Texas Motor Speedway for his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory since 2019.
Eckes and Friesen lined up on the front row for the two-lap overtime shootout after points leader Ben Rhodes spun after contact with Tanner Gray to bring out the final caution on Lap 143 of 147 and set up the dramatic finish.
The two battled side by side on the restart through the first two turns before Friesen darted to the lead heading into Turn 3 and held off Eckes by 0.122-of-a-second to snap a 53-race winless drought. It was the first victory for the Halmar Friesen driver/co-owner since winning at Phoenix with GMS Racing in November of 2019.
“I made all the mistakes I needed to make in the first two segments," said Friesen, who had only one other top-five finish this season, a third-place at Las Vegas in March. “That was probably the best restart of my career.”
Friesen led seven times for a race-high 60 laps but Eckes, who led three times for 40 laps, was seemingly in control in the late stages of the race. He led 34 of the final 36 laps but Friesen reclaimed the lead officially on the final lap of OT for his first lead since Lap 107.
Eckes’ runner-up finish was his season-best – topping the ThorSport Racing driver’s third in the season opener at Daytona – while Team DGR’s Ryan Preece also recorded a season-best effort by taking third.
Preece was the one who appeared like who could be the one in Victory Lane after taking the first two stage wins of the scheduled 147-lap event. He took the opening 35-lap stage and was followed by Friesen and Zane Smith. Polesitter John Hunter Nemechek of KB Motorsports, who was forced to start the race from the rear of the field due to unapproved changes, moved through the field and finished sixth in the first stage.
It was Preece and Friesen finishing 1-2 again in the 35-lap Stage 2 as Nemechek continued his run to the front by finishing third. Nemechek finally claimed the lead on Lap 74 of the third and final stage but lost the lead after 14 laps when the team gambled to have him pit twice for fuel during a caution. The strategy cost him 25 positions as he fell to 26th on the restart.
The final stage shaped up to a battle between Eckes, Friesen and Carson Hocevar with Eckes taking control up front. Ultimately, the OT restart put Friesen a side by side with Eckes and an ideal position to land his third career victory.
Nemechek went on to finish sixth and the result – coupled with Rhodes’ 27th-place finish – moved him into first in the NCWTS points standings by four points over Rhodes.
Friday’s NASCAR All-Star Race Weekend Notebook: JR Motorsports driver Noah Gragson earned his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series pole with a lap of 182.791 miles per hour (29.542 secs.) for Saturday’s SRS Distribution 250. Gragson edged Tyler Reddick (182.445 mph, 29.598 secs.), the Richard Childress Racing Cup driver competing for Big Machine Racing in this race, by 0.056-of-a-second for his first pole in 114 NXS races. Austin Hill will start third, Brandon Jones fourth and Ryan Truex fifth. The SRS Distribution 250 will begin at 12:30 p.m. (TV: FS1, Radio: PRN, SiriusXM Radio). … The NASCAR Cup Series takes to the track for the first time Saturday, beginning with practice for both The Open and NASCAR All-Star Race participants beginning at 6 p.m. Practice will be followed by Open and All-Star qualifying, respectively, beginning at 6:35 p.m. … NASCAR Cup Series driver Christopher Bell will join Texas Motor Speedway for a special announcement at a press conference set for Noon Saturday.
The NASCAR Open will begin at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 22 (FS1, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90, MRN, and 95.9 The Ranch) and the NASCAR All-Star Race at 7 p.m. (FS1, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90, MRN, and 95.9 The Ranch).
Country music superstar Blake Shelton will perform a live concert Sunday beginning at 5:30 p.m. as part of the NASCAR All-Star pre-race festivities.
Tickets for this weekend’s NASCAR All-Star Race Weekend are on sale now at https://www.
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