With 24 laps to go, Nemechek took the lead and held off Carson Hocevar in overtime to win the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Darlington Raceway on Friday night.

Pole winner John Hunter Nemechek battled through ten flags, an extra pit stop to tighten a loose wheel, and an overtime restart to win his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race of the season, edging out hard-luck Carson Hocevar by 0.552 seconds in the two-lap shootout to the finish.

“Just a huge shoutout to all the guys that work on this No. 4 KBM Toyota Tundra,” Nemechek said after spinning his truck like a dervish in a celebratory burnout on the frontstretch.

“I thought we gave it away early, honestly, and we were able to rebound and battle back. I learned a lot tonight. I was finally able to bring home the first win of the year.”

Nemechek, who finished second at Darlington last fall in a race he felt he should have won, led a race-high 69 laps in his maiden victory at the Lady in Black and the 12th of his career. He was 0.432s faster than second-place qualifier Ty Majeski in qualifying.

Nemechek had the speed, but his victory was far from certain as he brought his truck to pit road for the second time under caution on lap 61 to fix a loose left-front wheel. He was 26th at the time of the restart on lap 63, but by the end of Stage 2 on lap 90, he had climbed back to fifth.

He passed Christian Eckes for the lead on lap 123 and kept it for the rest of the race, including the two final cautions and overtime.

Hocevar won Stage 2 for the first time in his career, although he lost ground on pit road during the stage break and eventually recovered to restart side-by-side with Nemechek as the race went longer than expected.

For the final two laps, Nemechek had the outside lane to himself and drove away to win by a half-second margin.

A lot of emotions,” said Hocevar, who ran a close second to Ben Rhodes in the previous race on Bristol Dirt.

“I was freaking out for a second. I had an electrical issue and every once in a while it would stumble, and it flat out shut off in the middle of [Turns] 1 and 2 coming to the white [flag]…

“The No. 4 truck [Nemechek] was really good. I was hoping I maybe could have got him. I would have done a lot into [Turns] 3 and 4. I was better than him in 1 and 2.”

“He was better than me in 3 and 4, but I could have done a lot—just like every race car driver, right? But close once again. Hopefully, we’ll be one spot better next week.”

Majeski, Matt Crafton, Stage 1 winner Parker Kilgerman, Ryan Preece, Zane Smith, and Tyler Ankrum were the next to cross the finish line. Crafton, who finished fifth unofficially, was disqualified after post-race inspection.

Todd Bodine, who was making his 796th NASCAR national series start on his way to 800, finished ninth, his first top 10 finish since 2012.

The seventh race of the Truck Series season saw multiple on-track collisions. The most significant crash occurred on Lap 99, when Tanner Gray’s No. 15 truck collided with Austin Wayne Self’s No. 22 Chevrolet due to a flat tyre. In Turn 3, Self collided with Chase Purdy, who hit the outside wall head-on. Hailie Deegan was also collected in the crash.

Majeski, Matt Crafton, Stage 1 winner Parker Kilgerman, Ryan Preece, Zane Smith, and Tyler Ankrum were the next to cross the finish line. Crafton, who finished fifth unofficially, was disqualified after post-race inspection.

The race’s final caution came on Lap 143 when defending series champion Ben Rhodes had a flat left-rear tyre at Turn 1. With the right rear of his No. 99 Toyota crashing against the outside wall, Rhodes suffered serious damage before spinning towards the infield.

The Truck Series returns to Kansas Speedway on Saturday, May 14 for the Heart of America 200.

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