By Alex Gallacher
BOWMANVILLE, Ontario - A mishap filled ending allowed Justin Haley to win the Chevrolet Silverado 250 on Sunday as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series made its annual trip to Canada to open up the 2018 playoffs at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Although he isn't one of the playoff driver, Todd Gilliland seemed almost destined to win his first career truck series race. Taking the lead on Lap 53 from Johnny Sauter, it was smooth sailing for Gilliland until a late race caution set up a thrilling overtime battle with his Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Noah Gragson, a playoff driver. Gragson, who won both previous stages, dived to pass Gilliland in the final turn.
In similar shades to the move made by Chase Elliott in the 2013 race, the contact sent both Gragson and Gilliland spinning. The two trucks blocked the racetrack, causing a massive pileup coming to the checkered flag. The ensuing carnage allowed fellow playoff driver Haley to sneak through the wreckage and win the race.
Haley, a 19-year-old driver from Winamac, Ind., led only a single lap all race, and it proved to be the most important one. He claimed his second checkered flag of the season.
"We were just in the right place at the right time" Haley said while celebrating in Victory Lane. "I can't thank everyone at GMS Racing enough. It was a truly blessed day."
Haley also becomes the sixth different winner in as many races at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, and scores GMS Racing's first win at the historic 2.459-mile road course.
A visibly dejected Gilliland expressed his anger toward his Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate following the contact in Turn 10.
"I should have never let him get to me," Gilliland said. "We should have given him the inside. We had the fastest truck, and we didn't win again."
Gragson took immediate responsibility for the contact in the final corner, apologizing profusely to his teammate.
"That was on me," said Gragson. "I was racing for the win."
"I apologize to Todd, the No. 4 team and everyone at KBM. I was expecting a little more room on the bottom, and we made contact. Again, I want to apologize to everyone on that 4 team, that was on me."
Following the intense finish, Haley locks himself into the Round of 6 continuing his hunt for the NASCAR Camping Truck Series championship. The Round of 6 begins Oct. 27 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
"This is what we came to do," Haley added. "This is road course racing, and now we are really looking forward to Vegas. Mission accomplished."
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action Sept. 14 for the second race in the playoffs, the World of Westgate 200 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race -- Chevrolet Silverado 250
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
Sunday, August 26, 2018
1. (8) Justin Haley (P), Chevrolet, 65.
2. (7) John Hunter Nemechek(i), Chevrolet, 65.
3. (17) Brett Moffitt (P), Toyota, 65.
4. (5) Timothy Peters, Chevrolet, 65.
5. (4) Matt Crafton (P), Ford, 65.
6. (6) Johnny Sauter (P), Chevrolet, 65.
7. (16) Stewart Friesen (P), Chevrolet, 65.
8. (9) Austin Hill, Chevrolet, 65.
9. (2) Noah Gragson (P), Toyota, 65.
10. (10) Alex Tagliani, Chevrolet, 65.
11. (15) Todd Gilliland #, Toyota, 65.
12. (13) DJ Kennington, Chevrolet, 65.
13. (14) Harrison Burton, Toyota, 65.
14. (1) Ben Rhodes (P), Ford, 65.
15. (12) Cody Coughlin, Chevrolet, 65.
16. (22) Jordan Anderson, Chevrolet, 65.
17. (11) Grant Enfinger (P), Ford, 65.
18. (20) Justin Fontaine #, Chevrolet, 65.
19. (3) Myatt Snider #, Ford, 65.
20. (25) Norm Benning, Chevrolet, 65.
21. (18) Austin Wayne Self, Chevrolet, 65.
22. (21) Bo LeMastus #, Toyota, 64.
23. (27) Jason White, Chevrolet, 63.
24. (23) Wendell Chavous, Chevrolet, 63.
25. (31) Jesse Iwuji, Chevrolet, 63.
26. (30) Justin Kunz, Chevrolet, 62.
27. (24) Roger Reuse, Chevrolet, Vibration, 35.
28. (28) Ray Ciccarelli, Chevrolet, Vibration, 34.
29. (26) Jennifer Jo Cobb, Chevrolet, Oil Line, 32.
30. (19) Max Tullman(i), Chevrolet, Transmission, 29.
31. (32) Mike Harmon(i), Chevrolet, Brakes, 7.
32. (29) Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet, Brakes, 2.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 76.476 mph.
Time of Race: 02 Hrs, 05 Mins, 24 Secs. Margin of Victory: 2.223 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 5 for 18 laps.
Lead Changes: 8 among 6 drivers.
Lap Leaders: B. Rhodes (P) 1-6; N. Gragson (P) 7-22; T. Peters 23-24; N. Gragson (P) 25-33; J. Haley (P) 34; N. Gragson (P) 35-44; J. Sauter (P) 45-53; T. Gilliland # 54-64; J. Haley (P) 65;.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): N. Gragson (P) 3 times for 35 laps; T. Gilliland # 1 time for 11 laps; J. Sauter (P) 1 time for 9 laps; B. Rhodes (P) 1 time for 6 laps; J. Haley (P) 2 times for 2 laps; T. Peters 1 time for 2 laps.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 18,41,24,8,88,16,21,25,98,49
Stage #2 Top Ten: 18,16,24,8,88,52,21,25,98,13
-- NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.