While Austin Hill and Hattori Racing Enterprises weren’t the favorites to win Friday Night’s Corn Belt 150 at Knoxville Raceway, it became evident from the beginning that the expected wasn’t going to be reality in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ inaugural event at the half-mile dirt track.
Hill led 11 of the last 12 laps around Knoxville Raceway, taking the lead away from Chandler Smith, who held the top spot for the majority of the race’s final stage, after playing a tire strategy to put him into the lead. In the end, it came down to Hill beating Smith to the scoring loop before another caution flag came out and claiming the lead for the next restart, allowing the No. 16 to get away from the pack with ease.
Chandler Smith finished in the runner-up position after leading 71 laps, the most of any driver in the field, with Grant Enfinger, Todd Gilliland and Derk Kraus rounding out the top-five finishers. Matt Crafton, Ben Rhodes, Brian Brown, Tate Fogleman and Danny Bohn all picked up top-10 finishes through a chaotic final stage of the race, which scrambled the running order on many occasions.
The race featured a total of 14 caution flags – the most the series has seen in a single race since 2009 — spanning a total of 80 laps. In addition to the extensive number of caution periods, the race also went into quadruple overtime, going 29 laps further than it’s originally scheduled 150-lap distance.
In one of the biggest incidents of the evening, at least 15 trucks were involved in a massive wreck on the first overtime restart of the evening, when Donny Schatz shoved Jake Griffin, sending the No. 34 spinning in front of the pack and into the path of many others.
With one race remaining in the regular season for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Chandler Smith holds a 40-point advantage over Derek Kraus for the final spot in the series’ playoffs this season, which likely means any driver outside the top-10 in points will need to win, in order to secure a spot in the playoffs.