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Ross Chastain Wins Action-Packed Truck Series Race at Darlington

Ross Chastain celebrates in victory lane after winning the Buckle Up South Carolina 200 at Darlington. Photo Credit: James Gilbert | Getty Images

Friday night’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Darlington got off to a much later start than originally scheduled, but the late start had no bearing on the on-track activity. After 148 laps of rain-delayed racing that stretched into early Saturday morning, Ross Chastain and Niece Motorsports emerged victorious in the Buckle Up South Carolina 200.

Chastain only led three laps but they were the most important three, as he took the lead from Ty Majeski on the race’s final restart to capture the victory.

The win is the first for Chastain in the Truck Series since Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2022, and the first for the Niece Motorsports No. 45 entry since Chastain won at Pocono in 2019.

“We have been trying to win at Darlington… this is where my career changed, my life changed,” Chastain said in his post-race interview. “A watermelon farmer just won Darlington”.

Nick Sanchez finished runner-up to Chastain in his No. 2 Chevrolet. Sanchez, who won the season-opening race at Daytona, won the pole for the race but had to start in the rear due to unapproved adjustments after qualifying.

Defending series champion Ben Rhodes finished third, earning his first top-five of the season. Defending Darlington winner Christian Eckes finished fourth, and Ty Majeski rounded out the top five. Majeski led 36 laps, second-most in the race to Corey Heim.

Chase Purdy finished sixth, with Colby Howard finishing one spot behind in seventh. Howard, making his second start of the season, earned his first top-ten finish since Daytona in 2023 and his first top-ten in a non-superspeedway race since the fall Kansas race in 2022.

Taylor Gray came home in eighth and Ty Dillon finished in ninth in his No. 25 Chevrolet. The finish is the first top ten for Dillon in the Truck Series since Martinsville in 2017 and the first in a NASCAR National Series race since the Bristol Dirt Cup Series event in 2022. Tanner Gray rounded out the top ten, marking the third time this season that both Gray brothers have finished in the top ten.

RELATED: Buckle Up South Carolina 200 Results

The race’s first incident occurred on lap two when Kyle Busch got loose underneath Corey Heim while battling for the lead. Busch’s No. 7 Chevrolet spun down into the inside wall, causing major damage to his truck. “I guess just overtrusting the grip of everything and feeling good about it on the fire off there to put myself in a predicament that cost us a race. I hate it for all of the Spire guys. It was a really good truck,” Busch said after exiting the infield care center.

Busch lost four laps while his crew made repairs but the repairs were all for naught, as a right front tire went down on his truck on lap 12, sending it into the outside wall. The additional damage from the hit ended Busch’s race, leaving him with his first Truck Series DNF since Pocono in 2017. When asked about the second hit, Busch responded, “Yeah, the truck was wrecked. There was no reason why I should have been out on the track.”

Video: Kyle Busch Exits Darlington Truck Race Early After Two Incidents in First 15 Laps

The rest of stage one was run caution-free, with Heim leading every lap on his way to his third stage win of the season. Just prior to the end of the stage, however, Daniel Dye lost four laps after having to pit for a blown right front tire resulting from contact with Grant Enfinger.

The next caution flew on lap 67 when Spencer Boyd hit the inside wall on the frontstretch in his No. 76 Chevrolet. Boyd, who was one lap down prior to the incident, did not lose any additional laps from repairs. The remainder of the stage was run without incident, and after a battle with teammate Taylor Gray, Heim was able to retake the lead and sweep the race’s two stages.

Despite the relative calmness of stage two, stage three started the complete opposite way, as a massive pileup ensued on the first lap after the restart. Dean Thompson got loose underneath Heim in the middle of turn two and overcorrected into the No. 11, leaving the dominant truck of the race with major damage. Matt Crafton, Rajah Caruth, Layne Riggs, and Jack Wood were also collected in the accident. Heim, Thompson, Crafton, and Caruth suffered race-ending damage to their trucks, while Riggs and Wood each lost laps getting repairs made to their trucks.

Video: Stage Three Restart Crash at Darlington Leaves Multiple Drivers out of Contention

With the DNF, Heim was handed his first finish outside the top ten on the season after sweeping both stages and leading a race-high 77 laps.

The accident handed the race lead over to the defending race winner Christian Eckes, but he was passed not long after by Ty Majeski. With 20 laps remaining, Grant Enfinger, running in third, had to bring his No. 9 Chevrolet to pit road after a windshield tear-off got stuck to the grille of his truck and caused it to start overheating. Majeski’s lead continued to grow, topping out at over four seconds, but another caution came out with six laps to go. Jack Wood, who suffered damage in the lap 99 incident, hit the outside wall going into turn one, causing him to retire from the race. After contact on the restart caused Majeski to fade back, Chastain was able to hold off Nick Sanchez and Ben Rhodes to take home the victory.

With a NASCAR Cup Series regular winning, no new drivers locked themselves into the Truck Series playoffs. Ford’s winless streak across the NASCAR National Series also continued with a Chevrolet winning, as the manufacturer is now 0 for 31 to start the 2024 season.

With Heim recording a poor finish, Christian Eckes assumed the points lead from the No. 11, and he will take a 14-point advantage into next week’s race at North Wilkesboro, which will be broadcast by FS1.

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