Chastain takes NASCAR Truck race at Iowa Speedway

Chandler Smith races his truck during the NASCAR Truck Series auto race, Sunday, June 16, 2019, at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Ross Chastain walks to his truck before the start of the NASCAR Truck Series auto race, Sunday, June 16, 2019, at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

NEWTON, Iowa — Ross Chastain cruised to a win in the rain-delayed NASCAR Truck Series race on Sunday at Iowa Speedway, his second victory of 2019.

Chastain led the final 141 laps to clinch his second win in four races — but his first since he switched his championship aspirations from the Xfinity Series to the trucks a few weeks ago.

Sunday's win will be the first one to count toward Chastain's playoff hopes, which improved greatly after a dominant run on Iowa's short oval. Chastain also moved within 14 points of 20th place in the standings, the bar drivers who've won a race need to clear for a postseason spot.

Chastain took home $50,000 in bonus money as part of the Triple Truck Challenge as well, and the driver known as the "Watermelon Man" celebrated the victory that validated his decision to race for a truck title by smashing one from the top of his ride.

"It just means the world to get this opportunity," Chastain said.

Brett Moffitt, the defending series champion, finished second on his hometown track. Ben Rhodes was third, followed by Harrison Burton and Grant Enfinger.

Sixteen-year-old Chandler Smith, making his debut in the No. 51 truck for Kyle Busch Motorsports, started from the pole on owner's points after bad weather forced qualifying to be canceled and the race to be pushed back to Sunday morning.

Smith led the first 56 laps before Matt Crafton took over. But Chastain quickly caught Crafton from behind after a restart and clinched the first stage with a last-lap pass.

Chastain, who started 19th, dominated the second stage as well. He led all 60 laps to become the fourth driver in 2019 to sweep consecutive stages.

"When you have race cars and race trucks like this, nothing else matters," Chastain said. "This is what every race car driver in the world is looking for, opportunities like this."

The start of the final stage was highlighted by some drama involving Austin Hill and Johnny Sauter.

After the two nearly got sideways because of some close racing, Hill put Sauter into the wall with 63 laps to go. But Sauter went after Hill during the ensuing caution, slamming into Hill's rear bumper. NASCAR parked Sauter for his actions.

"I don't race like that. So if you're going to race me like that and take me out — I guess he was mad about Texas last week, I don't know — I'm not going to put up with it," Hill said.

Smith was penalized for speeding on pit road before the final stage. He finished ninth.

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More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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