TALLADEGA, Alabama – Tate Fogleman worked his way to his first career NASCAR National Series victory with an overtime victory in the Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway, the opening of the weekend’s triple playoff title. end of NASCAR.
Fogleman headed John Hunter Nemechek towards the finish line on Saturday in the second round of a two-lap overtime shootout for his first win in 46 career starts in the Truck Series. His Chevrolet made its way to the finish line and Fogleman went to the health center for the mandatory health check instead of Victory Lane.
“We’ve never completed a superspeedway race before so I really didn’t know what to do,” said Fogleman. “I tried to stay down in other races, and it never worked. So we thought we were going to stay aggressive, try to stay forward.”
This was only the second career top 10 for Fogleman, who is in his second season driving for Young’s Motorsports. Saturday was the second career start at Talladega for the 21-year-old short track racer.
“I knew I had to push as hard as I could,” Fogleman said. “I got the push from behind and stayed aggressive. I knew no one would give me room. I did all I could to push, and luckily the sea parted and luckily , we came away with the victory. “
The race was the first of three NASCAR National Series at Talladega this weekend and opened a double schedule on Saturday with the Xfinity Series. The Cup Series was scheduled for Sunday – the weather was calling for rain – and all three races have huge playoff implications.
For the Truck Series, all four places in the deciding championship final were open before Talladega as a non-qualifying driver won in Las Vegas last week.
All four spots are still open with one race remaining in this round, at Martinsville Speedway on October 30, where the field of eight will be reduced to four. A victory for one of the eight drivers in the playoffs automatically gives a place in the championship final.
Fogleman capped a frenzied two-round shootout in overtime and denied Nemechek an automatic berth in the championship. Tyler Hill finished second in his career and was followed by Todd Gilliland as Nemechek fell to fourth.
“This is exactly how all the races here over the past few years have ended,” said Nemechek. “I can’t be angry. As much as you want to be angry, you can’t be angry. It’s partly my fault. You take it with a grain of salt. I’m more angry with myself- same as anything not to stay higher to stay away from him. “
And he fired an enraged Matt Crafton, calling the 45-year-old three-time series champion an “old man” when Crafton confronted him after the race. Crafton said he had problems with Nemechek in all three stages of the race.
“He’s smarter than that,” Crafton said. “I agree to get hit right away for the stage points but not to get out of the corner, but that happens sometimes.”
All the riders were concerned about Talladega due to the unpredictability of the peloton racing on the 2.66 mile superspeedway. The Truck Series race has had three warnings in the last 35 regulatory laps which have gathered 28 trucks – and that was before several trucks crashed behind the leaders in the last overtime lap.
“When we missed the first two big wrecks, I felt like things were going in the right direction,” said Fogleman.
The race had been halted for just over nine minutes with 35 laps remaining to clean up a 19-truck crash. A second six-truck wreck targeted title contenders Carson Hocevar and Stewart Friesen, and the race was ultimately not a great one for any of the playoff drivers.
The four conductors below the dividing line towards Martinsville are Friesen, Chandler Smith, Hocevar and Zane Smith. All four were involved in accidents in Talladega.
Nemechek, Ben Rhodes, Crafton and Sheldon Creed are in the top four, with Creed taking a five point lead over Friesen.