Old-school ways win trucks race

Baltimore Sun - - NASCAR - — Ge­orge Diaz

NASCAR’s Boys Have At It wink-wink di­rec­tive has been largely ig­nored this sea­son, more so a prod­uct of race-day cir­cum­stances and re­spect among Sprint Cup veter­ans.

We saw that in June when Denny Ham­lin didn’t push back on Tony Ste­wart on the fi­nal lap af­ter Ste­wart bull­dozed him into the out­side wall at Sonoma.

But the trickle-down ef­fect isn’t in play, ob­vi­ously. John Hunter Ne­mechek def­i­nitely went old-school on Cole Custer on the fi­nal lap of the trucks race in On­tario last week­end.

Ne­mechek bumped Custer’s ve­hi­cle once, then again, and fi­nally de­liv­ered the clos­ing blow by ram­ming Custer into the in­field grass to nudge out a vic­tory.

Ne­mechek — son of veteran driver Joe Ne­mechek — ac­knowl­edged it was a “rub­bing’s rac­ing” move, though it def­i­nitely skewed to­ward bad man­ners. Custer wasn’t pleased at all, to the point of charg­ing Ne­mechek and de­liv­er­ing a fly­ing take­down be­fore they were sep­a­rated.

“I was ex­pect­ing it, kind of, be­cause he’s raced a lot of peo­ple like that, but it’s just a shame be­cause it was a great chance to get into the Chase and he took it away from us,” Custer said.

That’s where things get prickly. Ne­mechek al­ready has qual­i­fied for the trucks Chase. Custer has not and is in a big pinch com­pet­ing for a last shot at qual­i­fi­ca­tion in Chicago on Sept. 16.

NASCAR of­fi­cials did not take any ac­tion.

“It was cer­tainly an ag­gres­sive move,” NASCAR vice pres­i­dent Steve O’Don­nell said on Sir­ius XM NASCAR Ra­dio’s “The Morn­ing Drive” Tues­day morn­ing. “We’ve al­ways said that NASCAR is a con­tact sport and when John Hunter Ne­mechek earned a nar­row win in last week­end’s trucks race. driv­ers are rac­ing, we ex­pect that there could be con­tact.”

Ne­mechek is a good kid with a lot of po­ten­tial, but he is go­ing to make more en­e­mies than friends with this move. Don’t take my word for it. Just look at a FoxS­ports.com poll, where 77 per­cent of the fans said Ne­mechek didn’t win the race fairly.

A kind re­minder that Boys Have At It comes with con­se­quences. Har­vick un­happy: Kevin “Happy” Har­vick isn’t feeling his nick­name. Not at all.

“I’m over be­ing a cheer­leader,” he said af­ter fin­ish­ing sec­ond to Martin Truex Jr. in Dar­ling­ton. “Those guys get paid a lot of money to per­form on pit road. Cheer­lead­ing hasn’t been work­ing, so you have to get af­ter them on pit road and do your job.

“… It’s just the same old thing. … You’re not go­ing to win races like that.”

JOHN RAOUX/AP

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