The last time Gateway Motorsports Park, then known as Gateway International Raceway, was on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule, the year was 2010, and Darrell Wallace Jr. wasn’t yet a driver in the Truck Series. But that didn’t matter on Saturday night in the Drivin’ For Linemen 200. After leading 85 laps of the 160 laps that made up the race in Madison, Ill., near St. Louis, Wallace celebrated Truck Series’ return to Gateway by pulling his No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota into victory lane after the checkered flag. Red Horse Racing teammates German Quiroga and Timothy Peters finished second and third.
Wallace was racing his KBM teammate Erik Jones late in the race before Quiroga made contact with Jones, causing Jones to spin and bring the seventh and final caution of the race inside the final 10 laps.
“We were driving really hard,” Quiroga said, also commenting that Jones was already sideways before the contact. “I just kept it going.”
After a caution that included a scuffle on pit road between the crews of the two trucks involved, the race restarted with three laps to go with Quiroga in the lead and Wallace in second. Wallace took the lead for good right after the race went back to green.
“He was a little better than me in one and two, and then I guess he fell asleep or something and I got around him in three and four.”
Wallace had dominated the race early, showing the way up front until the third caution of the race interrupted a cycle of green-flag pit stops around lap 60. Wallace had already made his stop under green, and to make matters worse, his truck fell off the jack on pit road. As a result, he restarted 12th, while Matt Crafton restarted with the lead with John Hunter Nemechek alongside in second.
“I didn’t even worry about it,” Wallace said of the trouble on pit road and the loss of track position.”
Crafton’s time up front was short-lived. The yellow flag waved was soon displayed again and Nemechek took the lead on the restart that followed. He held on to the lead until Crafton took it back with just over 40 laps remaining. And, again, Crafton’s time up front was brief. Soon after taking the top spot, he blew a tire and hit the wall.
“I must’ve run over something, because no warning, boom, and it was done,” Crafton said. “The truck wasn’t the best it had been, but it was plenty good enough, so this really hurts.”
Nemechek got off pit road first during the caution that resulted from Crafton’s wreck. Wallace restarted second, and Jones third. When the race returned to green, both Wallace and Jones got by Nemechek to take first and second. Fewer than 20 laps later, Nemechek was the reason for a caution, the sixth in the race, when he spun while running third.
The race restarted with the Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates Wallace and Jones in first and second and the Red Horse Racing duo of Quiroga and Peters in third and fourth. Jones briefly took the lead from Wallace before his incident with Quiroga.
The Johnny Sauter finished fourth, and Ron Hornaday was fifth. According to Hornaday, bad fuel mileage that forced him to pit early got him the track position to finish in the top-five.
“I think we had a 12th-place truck,” Hornaday said.
Pole sitter Cole Custer finished sixth, Ryan Blaney was seventh, John Wes Townley eighth, Chase Pistone ninth, and Tayler Malsam rounded out the top-10.