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John Hunter Nemechek wins second straight Truck race in Texas, adds to series lead

FORT WORTH, Texas -- John Hunter Nemechek has always had confidence in his ability, and his move this year back to NASCAR Trucks from the top-level Cup Series was all about having the opportunity to win races with top-tier equipment.

A day after his 24th birthday, Truck Series points leader Nemechek won his second consecutive race in the No. 4 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports, leading the final 22 laps and finishing more than 3.3 seconds ahead of reigning Cup champion Chase Elliott on a steamy Saturday in Texas. It was Nemechek's 4th victory of the season and 10th of his career.

With four races left before the series playoffs begin, Nemechek remained ahead of Ben Rhodes, whose 27th place finish was his worst of the season. Rhodes had finished in the top 10 in all but one other race, the lowest previously coming in 16th at Atlanta.

Elliott led 45 laps to finish second in his first Truck race at the 1½-mile, high-banked Texas track where Sunday night he will try to win his second consecutive All-Star race.

Cup driver Ross Chastain had finished third, but the No. 45 truck was later disqualified when modifications to the throttle body were discovered in the postrace inspection. Chastain had finished ahead of Grant Enfinger and Austin Hill, who remained third in points.

Todd Gilliland and Zane Smith both had top-10 finishes to move up a spot in points, to fourth and fifth, respectively.

It was the 5th consecutive win this season on 1½-mile tracks for KBM, including Nemechek's past two races in the No. 4 Toyota, plus a victory at Las Vegas and owner Kyle Busch's wins at Atlanta and Kansas. Nemechek started on the pole based on metric qualifying, since there was no practice or qualifying at Texas, then led five times for 64 laps.

"You can say it's a step back, but you don't have to look at it that way," Nemechek said. "I'm not a guy that just wants to ride around and say that I'm a Cup Series driver. I strive for more than that. I want to be perfect. I want to win races. I want to win championships. And I didn't feel like I could do that where I was at with my ability."

The win at Texas came a day after Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Nemechek will drive the team's No. 54 Toyota Supra in three Xfinity Series races later this season, including at Texas in mid-October.

Sheldon Creed, who began the day 4th in points and is already in the playoffs, finished last in the 36-truck field. Creed won at Texas in October but was undone Saturday after twice getting too high on the track into the traction compound in the first 20 laps. Creed first got loose on the 6th lap when his No. 2 truck struck the outside wall then on the 20th lap had another incident in Turn 2 that ended his day.

Nemechek won the first stage, which finished under caution, as did the second stage, won by Zane Smith.

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