Saturday night was full of firsts at Gateway Motorsports Park, and Victory Lane also had a familiar look.
The Drivin' for Linemen 200 was the first NASCAR race held at GMP since 2010. As for the pole sitter, 16-year-old Cole Custer and his No. 00 truck paced the field at the start for the first time in his career. To top it all off, Darrell Wallace Jr. pulled through for his first win of the season in the Camping World Truck Series.
NASCAR Trucks provides a look at the finish for Wallace:
The 20-year-old driver found his way to the front after fighting through adversity at the start of the race. Following the second win of his young career, he also jumps back into the top 10 in the points standings at ninth.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who won the Sprint Cup race last weekend at Pocono, provides his thoughts on the night for Wallace and the return to GMP:
While Wallace's win was clearly the story following the race, it wasn't the only exciting part about the finish.
After a restart with just a handful of laps remaining, German Quiroga drove into the back of Erik Jones, who was leading the race. Jones spun out, careening into the wall after driving through the infield grass and ending his night.
What would follow was also a first on the NASCAR season, as Jones' pit crew ran down to the pit box of Quiroga to confront the team. Several members of Jones' crew were seen pushing Quiroga's team and eventually met with the driver after the race.
The Mexican driver spoke about the wreck following his run, per Bob Pockrass of Sporting News:
German Quiroga pretty much tells mrn it was unfortunate but if you lift in that spot you will get passed and Erik Jones was already sideways— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) June 15, 2014
Quiroga wound up finishing in second and maintaining his sixth-place standing in the points, but he will likely have a rivalry brewing with the young driver after Saturday night.
With the Drivin' for Linemen 200 officially over, here's a look at the finishing order, standings and recap of the truck race.
|1||Darrell Wallace Jr.||85|
|2||German Quiroga Jr.||5|
|5||Ron Hornaday Jr.||0|
|8||John Wes Townley||0|
|3||Ron Hornaday Jr.||-13|
|7||John Wes Townley||-27|
|9||Darrell Wallace Jr.||-43|
Unfamiliarity with the track played a huge factor early on in Saturday's race.
Gray Gaulding started the race from the No. 4 position but experienced tough luck early on in the Drivin' for Linemen 200. The 16-year-old fell off the pace when his truck ran out of gas, as Fox Sports: NASCAR notes:
During that exact same visit to the pits for Gaulding, Wallace Jr. also experienced a slight setback. After having his right side tires changed, Wallace was dropped from the jack with the rear tire not properly installed.
Wallace would clearly recover, winning the race after a huge run back to the lead with just a few laps remaining. Pockrass offered his thoughts on the incident for Wallace:
Tough break for Bubba Wallace on that pit stop. #nascar— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) June 15, 2014
While much of the race was clean in St. Louis, the end saw two of the top drivers meet a similar fate.
Matt Crafton, who came into the race as the points leader with two wins on the season, lost control coming around a turn and hit the wall hard. The wreck ended Crafton's day just after he took the lead away from John Nemechek.
Crafton offered a breakdown of the accident, per Lee Spencer of Motorsport.com:
Shortly after Crafton's wreck, Nemechek saw his night end just laps later. The son of former NASCAR driver Joe Nemechek was running well, but he was undone by German Quiroga, who got into him around a turn.
Fox Sports: NASCAR gives a look at the accident and his father's thoughts following the run:
Quiroga was clearly part of another huge wreck that happened just a few laps later, capping off an eventful night for the Mexican driver.
Will Wallace win another race in 2014?
Following the Drivin' for Linemen 200, the CWTS will take a one-week break from the track before resuming the season. After the off week for the truck series, the circuit will take to Kentucky Speedway for the UNOH 225 on June 26 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.
After a rough finish to Saturday night's race for Crafton, the 2013 points champion will look to return to his strong season at Kentucky. With three straight top-10 finishes at the track, Crafton will be in search of his first win next Thursday night.
As for Wallace, the 20-year-old has a chance to make 2014 his first multiple-win season with another checkered flag in Kentucky. He will be a huge storyline to watch, but nothing matches the suspense of seeing Quiroga and Jones on the same track again.
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