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Gibbs and Nemechek – driving the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing – were easily the class of the field and by the end of the race it became clear they would decide the outcome.
On Lap 247, Nemechek was able to cleanly pass Gibbs for the lead but as the final lap began the two were racing side-by-side. At the start of Turn 4, Gibbs nudged Nemechek up the track and got around him to take the checkered flag by 0.116 seconds.
It’s the third win for Gibbs in seven series starts so far this season and seventh victory of his young career.
“You know, I definitely deserve one back,” Gibbs, 19, said. “I deserve that. We were racing for wins and they’re hard to come by so I took it.
“We were fighting tight all day and I just couldn’t the bottom (lane). John Hunter was a little faster and we had a great race. I just got in there deep and had to bump him out of the way up the track. We’re short-track racing.
“It’s cool to get our third win so hopefully we can keep it rolling.”
Asked about last-lap move, Nemechek said, “Him and I will settle it Monday. I just got drove through. He never even tried to make the corner. Racers never forget,”
Sam Mayer, 18, finished third and collected the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus. A.J. Allmendinger was fourth and Riley Herbst rounded out the top-five.
Gibbs, Nemechek, Mayer and Allmendinger will be eligible for the Dash 4 Cash bonus next weekend at Martinsville, Va.
Completing the top-10 were Daniel Hemric, Josh Berry, Brandon Brown, Ryan Sieg and Parker Retzlaff.
Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, the lead-lap cars all pit with Gibbs first off pit road. Jeremy Clements and Berry were both penalized for speeding on pit road and had to restart the race from the rear of the field.
The race resumed on Lap 161 with Gibbs out front followed by Nemechek, Allmendinger, Ryan Sieg and Justin Allgaier.
With 50 laps remaining in the race, Gibbs maintained about a half-second lead over Nemechek with Allmendinger in third. Allgaier was fourth and Brandon Jones fifth.
On Lap 217, Nemechek went to the inside of Gibbs in Turn 2 and came away with the lead. Gibbs, however, used a crossover move off Turn 4 on Lap 218 to take it right back.
With 25 laps remaining, Gibbs’ lead over Nemechek returned to about a half-second as Allmendinger ran third, Mayer fourth and Ryan Sieg fifth.
On Lap 235, Mayer got around Allmendinger to become the highest running driver eligible for the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.
With five laps to go, Nemechek had closed to Gibbs’ rear bumper to once again challenge for the lead.
Gibbs passed leader Nemechek with seven laps remaining and held on for the Stage 2 victory.
Berry was third, Ryan Sieg fourth and Allmendinger rounded out the top-five.
Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, all the lead-lap cars pit with Nemechek the first off pit road. Hemric was penalized for speeding on pit road and had to restart from the rear of the field. Noah Gragson also had to restart from the rear for pitting before pit road was open.
On the restart on Lap 86, Nemechek was followed by Allmendinger and Gibbs.
NASCAR was forced to put out a caution on Lap 90 for debris on the track in Turn 1. The debris appeared to come off Gragson’s No. 9 Chevrolet.
The race returned to green on Lap 96 with Nemechek still out front.
On Lap 154, Gibbs went to the inside of Nemechek and reclaimed the lead. Berry had moved up to third.
Nemechek grabbed the lead on Lap 12 and never looked back, cruising to the Stage 1 win by about 5 second over Gragson.
Berry was third, Allmendinger fourth and Gibbs rounded out the top-five.
Gibbs started on the pole but Nemechek worked his way around him to take the lead on Lap 12.
With 50 laps remaining in the stage, Gragson had pulled up to Nemechek’s rear bumper, hoping to challenge for the lead.
On Lap 45, Allmendinger got around Gragson to take over second as Gragson complained he may have a problem with his brakes.
With 20 laps to go, Nemechek had opened a 4.2-second lead over Allmendinger as Gragson ran third.
Hemric and Jeb Burton had to start the race from the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments to their respective cars.