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Everything That Happened in the Truck Race at Charlotte

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What’s Happening?

The NASCAR Truck Series celebrated its 700th race in series history with the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. With six spots left in the playoffs and six regular-season races to go, it is now crunch time for the drivers who have yet to lock themselves into the 10-driver playoffs. Extra incentives were placed on the field as the race marked the first leg of the Triple Truck Challenge. $50,000 was paid to the winner of the race, beginning their quest for a Triple Truck Challenge sweep and a $500,000 payday after three races.

Corey Heim and Christian Eckes continued to battle it out for the regular season title, with both only separated by four points. Heim won last week at North Wilkesboro, putting him within striking distance of the points lead, and continued his momentum by qualifying second. Meanwhile, Eckes had a lot of ground to make up as he started the race back in 35th due to damage from practice. Was it Heim Time for the fourth time this season? Did Eckes’ charge from the back end up with him in Victory Lane? Or did someone else spoil the show to collect the $50,000 prize? Here is everything that happened in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.

  • This was the first race of the Triple Truck Challenge. The winner of any of the following three races receives a $50,000 bonus. If the winner wins two of the three races, the bonus jumps to $150,000. If a driver wins all three races, the bonus increases to $500,000.
  • Six races remained in the regular season, with six playoff spots that were up for grabs. Four drivers had clinched a spot in the playoffs with wins (Christian Eckes, Corey Heim, Rajah Caruth, and Nick Sanchez) with the Eckes and Heim battling for the regular season championship.
  • Defending Truck Series champion Ben Rhodes enters the race as the defending winner. He had yet to clinch a playoff berth coming in, as he sat ninth in the standings, just four points above the cutline. Rhodes rolled off 13th.

Corey Heim Pulls Away For Stage One Win

Heim continued to do what he’s done all year: lead laps. He took the lead from polesitter Tanner Gray on lap five and gapped his teammate by over three seconds after just 18 laps. Tricon Garage took advantage of their front-row sweep by pulling away over two seconds ahead of third place. With just four points separating Heim and Eckes, the driver of the 11 took full advantage of his fortune and his rival’s issues, as Corey took his series-leading fifth stage win of 2024, while Eckes missed out on valuable stage points, finishing 14th.

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Stage Two Deja Vu

Gray took the lead following green flag pit stops, but just as he did in stage one, Heim tracked his teammate down and reclaimed the top spot in the stage’s opening five laps. While Gray kept pace with Heim in the middle portion, the 11-truck stretched his advantage to over four seconds by the end of stage two. Just like stage one, it was a dominant performance for Heim, as he brought the broom for a sweep of the stages. It was the fourth time in his career that he swept stages one and two.

Pit Road Mishaps

While the trucks were quiet in terms of on track incidents, the same couldn’t be said for on pit road. Rajah Caruth and Ty Majeski made contact on pit road at the end of stage one, causing damage to Caruth’s Silverado and bringing him back to the pits for repairs.

Kaden Honeycutt, who had a standout performance racing inside the top five, was hit with a removing equipment violation after his team had trouble disconnecting the fuel can from the 45. The fuel man was evaluated and continued his services, while Honeycutt restarted 29th after serving his penalty.

Multi-Truck Crash to Begin Stage Three

The first caution for incident came on lap 69. Tyler Ankrum got hooked going into turn three before he came up the race track, right in front of Thad Moffitt during the restart. Ankrum clipped Keith McGee, who collected Jeffery Earnhardt for a four-car accident. All four trucks were out of the race.

Matt Crafton Caution Shuffles Front of the Field

Matt Crafton brought out the fourth caution of the night after slamming the outside wall with a flat right tire. Crafton was the first driver outside the playoff cutline, but the DNF dampened his quest for a fourth Truck Series championship with only five races left in the regular season.

After the first crash, some trucks came onto pit road to top off on fuel, hoping to make it to the finish without returning to the pits. With the Crafton caution, their strategies paid off as the leaders came to pit road to ensure they could make it to the end on pit road. Chase Purdy and Mason Massey restarted the race on the front row, with seven trucks staying out during the yellow.

Heim was one of the leaders who came to the pits following the fourth caution. His quest for a fourth win was made more difficult after his team had to switch jacks in the middle of the pit stop. This sent Heim from the lead to 27th with less than 50 laps to go on the restart. Meanwhile, Eckes, who battled problems all race long, took the lead on the restart to flip the script on his rival as they both fought for the regular season title.

Race Reaches Climax With Fuel Strategies and Pit Road Issues

Eckes, Purdy, and Honeycutt took command after the second-to-last restart but faced uncertainty about whether they could make it to the end on fuel. The pressure was on the trio that stayed out, especially with Heim tracking them down, driving from 27th to fourth.

With 15 laps to go, Purdy hit the outside wall, trying to run the high line, bringing out the fifth caution of the night. While this took the 77 out of contention for the win, this brought Heim right back into the mix, while Eckes and Honeycutt had to decide if they would come to pit road to ensure they had enough fuel to make it. Honeycutt and Heim brought the field onto pit road for tires and fuel, while Eckes stayed out, leaving him in no man’s land.

Pit road drama reached its climax when both Honeycutt and Heim ran into issues on pit road. Honeycutt’s team had the pit gun brake off during his stop, while Heim had to leave one lug nut loose on his left rear following his issues. With the top six staying out, including Eckes, and the pit road issues, the battle for the win was on.

Sanchez Steals Charlotte Win Over Heim

Nick Sanchez was under heavy pressure from Heim in the last 10 laps. Despite this, he kept his cool and held off the dominant 11 to steal the victory away from Heim by less than half a second. It was Sanchez’s second win of the season and of his career; he not only bagged an extra five playoff points but also collected the $50,000 check in race one of the Triple Truck Challenge.

Crew chief Chris Showalter has been a part of every Truck race in the history of the series. Making his 700th start, his win on top of the box was popular and emotional. When speaking to FOX Sports, he said this win was number one among all his career wins. What a special moment for one of the longest-tenured figures in the Truck Series!

In The Stands

Skewcar calls out FOX after their blunder for the pre-race analysis

David Land starting Memorial Day weekend strong by predicting Sanchez to win tonight!

Gatren_ was loving seeing another Sanchez win.

Conclusion

Once again, the Truck Series never disappoints. The race was night and day, from the first two stages to the last. Stages one and two were quick, tame affairs, with Heim pulling away. Stage three was anything but that, as cautions and different strategies made up the story of the final stage. Despite losing out on the win, Heim came away from the night with the points lead, finally claiming it over Christian Eckes, who more than likely wished he came in for tires and fuel. Ultimately, when you have a race decided by less than one second, what better way for the Truck Series to celebrate its 700th race than with a classic at Charlotte?

Be sure to check out the rest of DailyDownforce.com for recaps of all races, the latest storylines, and fan discussions. 

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