Ross Chastain Dominates at Pocono For Third Win of 2019

Ross Chastain lifts a watermelon in victory at Pocono Raceway
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Ross Chastain made it look easy on Saturday at Pocono Raceway, but the battle for Playoff spots intensified dramatically in the Gander RV 150 at the 2.5-mile triangular track.

Pitting early near the end of Stage 2 in the 60-lap NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race, Chastain regained the lead on Lap 33 and held it the rest of the way, beating surging 18-year-old Tyler Ankrum to the finish line by 1.007 seconds.

Stage 2 winner Harrison Burton charged from 10th to third during the closing 26-lap green-flag run and made a statement where the Playoffs are concerned.

Burton, 18, posted his fourth top five in a span of five races and closed significant ground on Canadian Stewart Friesen, who self-destructed on the first lap. Burton trails Friesen by 13 points for the final Playoff position with two races left in the regular season.

But no one was a match for Chastain, who won the first stage with ease on the way to his third victory of the season and reaffirmed his status as one of the clear favorites for the series title. Chastain dedicated his first Pocono win to Kaulig Racing crew chief Nick Harrison, who passed away at age 37 after last Saturday's NASCAR Xfinity Series race.

"I know we were a little mad because we lost Nick Harrison," Chastain said. "We realize that everybody goes when it's their time, but, man, we miss that big boy. These boys (on the Niece Motorsports team), a lot of them worked with him.

"I got to work with him at Kaulig Racing this year. Man, we miss him."

Ankrum punished his No. 17 Toyota in a futile effort to catch Chastain during the closing run.

"Me and Ross were able to run away from the field," Ankrum said. "I thought I had a good enough truck to chase him down, but I couldn't get close enough to him to catch the draft. I was just fighting 'tight,' and I burned my tires up trying to catch him."

Short of a victory that would have locked him into a Playoff spot, Burton turned in an optimal performance from the standpoint of the points he gained.

"I wanted to win really bad," Burton said. "We had a truck that was capable of winning. I think everyone kind of knew that… We were charging at the end, which was a lot of fun. I didn't expect to be able to do that that well. I thought we were in trouble there on that last restart, but we made a lot of ground up and were really aggressive.

"As far as points, we gained a ton today, which is really, really good."

The Playoff aspirations of Friesen suffered a major blow before the field cleared the first corner. Moments after the start, Friesen took a low line into Turn 1 and his No. 52 Chevrolet broke loose in the corner, collecting the Toyota of Anthony Alfredo and slamming into the outside wall.

Friesen finished 32nd after failing to complete a lap.

"Got spun around, made contact with the wall," Friesen said succinctly after leaving the infield care center. "Just a bummer. Got on the apron there and away we went.

"I had a lot of friends and family here today, and I'm really, really disappointed. I wish I could have done more to last a little longer out there, obviously. We'll be back—it just sucks right now."

If there's a silver lining for Friesen, it's the location of the next race—the half-mile dirt track at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Friesen has more than 900 career starts on dirt in a variety of series and has finished second and third in his last two Eldora races. Burton finished 15th in his only Eldora start two years ago.

RACE RESULTS

Finish Start # Driver Sponsor/Make Laps Led Points Status
1 2 45 Ross Chastain Niece/Acurlite Chevrolet 60 54 50 Running
2 9 17 Tyler Ankrum # RAILBLAZA Toyota 60 0 36 Running
3 6 18 Harrison Burton # Morton Buildings Toyota 60 6 52 Running
4 13 51 Christian Eckes SiriusXM Toyota 60 0 37 Running
5 4 24 Brett Moffitt Chevrolet Accessories Chevrolet 60 0 47 Running
6 8 88 Matt Crafton Ideal Door/Menards Ford 60 0 37 Running
7 7 4 Todd Gilliland JBL Toyota 60 0 36 Running
8 16 13 Johnny Sauter Tenda Heal Ford 60 0 29 Running
9 15 99 Ben Rhodes Havoline Ford 60 0 35 Running
10 10 98 Grant Enfinger Protect the Harvest/Curb Records Ford 60 0 40 Running
11 20 2 Tyler Dippel # Lobas Chevrolet 60 0 32 Running
12 22 8 Anthony Mrakovich Street Stores Wholesale Hardware Chevrolet 60 0 25 Running
13 12 3 Jordan Anderson Lucas Oil Chevrolet 60 0 26 Running
14 17 12 Gus Dean # OverkillRV.com Chevrolet 60 0 28 Running
15 18 22 Austin Wayne Self GO TEXAN Chevrolet 60 0 23 Running
16 24 54 Natalie Decker # N29 Technologies LLC Toyota 60 0 21 Running
17 23 34 Mason Massey IV Toyota 60 0 20 Running
18 25 20 Spencer Boyd Kickass Beef Jerky Chevrolet 60 0 19 Running
19 27 49 Ray Ciccarelli CMI Motorsports Chevrolet 59 0 18 Running
20 26 33 Josh Reaume Phantoms Hockey Chevrolet 59 0 17 Running
21 32 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb Driven2Honor.org Chevrolet 59 0 16 Running
22 29 6 Norm Benning H & H Transport Chevrolet 58 0 15 Running
23 11 44 Bayley Currey Niece Equipment Chevrolet 58 0 14 Running
24 30 28 Bryan Dauzat FDNY/American Genomics Chevrolet 58 0 13 Running
25 5 2 Sheldon Creed # Chevrolet Accessories Chevrolet 56 0 21 Oil Leak
26 21 38 T J Bell Niece Chevrolet Chevrolet 33 0 11 Handling
27 28 32 Bryant Barnhill Colonial Countertops Chevrolet 26 0 10 Handling
28 19 87 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet 24 0 9 Handling
29 31 0 Daniel Sasnett Driven2Honor.org Chevrolet 21 0 8 Handling
30 1 16 Austin Hill United Rentals Toyota 21 0 14 Clutch
31 14 15 Anthony Alfredo # STEELSMITH Toyota 2 0 6 Accident
32 3 52 Stewart Friesen Halmar International Chevrolet 0 0 5 Accident

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