The first two came on rural short tracks in Virginia. The third was a shocker — Friday night’s improbable victory in the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway.
It took three attempts at a green-white-checkered-flag finish for King to win his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in his eighth start in the series and his first on a superspeedway.
King was in the lead in the third overtime when Joey Coulter’s Chevrolet flew into the catch fence on the frontstretch after James Buescher’s Chevy turned sideways from contact with the truck of Ron Hornaday Jr. Coulter walked away from the wreck.
The resulting caution froze the field and made a winner of King, who still seemed amazed at his accomplishment when he talked to reporters after the race.
“This is feature win No. 3 for me — in my whole career,” King said. “It’s unbelievable. I couldn’t imagine being here, and we’re here.”
A hard crash on Lap 104 — four laps into overtime at the 2.5-mile track — took out race leader Johnny Sauter, who turned into the outside wall in the tri-oval off the bumper of King, igniting a multicar melee behind them.
“Golly, I flat freakin’ wrecked him,” King lamented on his radio after NASCAR red-flagged the race to clean up debris from the wreck.
Five laps and an 11-minute stoppage later, after a torrent of reassuring words from crew chief Chad Kendrick, King was in victory lane. Timothy Peters, King’s Red Horse Racing teammate came home second. Justin Lofton was credited with a third-place finish, followed by Travis Kvapil and Jason White.
“All I know was, the closing rate was real fast, and I couldn’t get off of him,” King said of the contact with Sauter’s car. “I’m a rookie, and I’ve never pushed (another car in the draft) in my life, and this is my first time at Daytona Speedway or any superspeedway.
“I apologize to him from the bottom of my heart. It wasn’t my intention at all.”
A caution on Lap 61 for a crash involving John King, Cale Gale and Mike Skinner provided a window for drivers to make their final pit stops. The trip down pit road failed to break up the dominant combination of Turner Motorsports drivers Buescher and polesitter Miguel Paludo.
Nelson Piquet Jr., the third of the Turner drivers, took the lead soon after a restart on Lap 69, and the Turner Chevrolets ran 1-2-3 as the race closed in on the 75-lap mark. To that point, Turner drivers had led every green-flag lap.
Lap after lap they maintained that order, Piquet leading Paludo and Buescher, all three trucks hugging the yellow line at the bottom of the track until White led a surge in the outside lane and grabbed the lead from Paludo on Lap 84.
As the trucks approached the stripe on that circuit, Paludo’s Chevy turned sideways and slammed nose-first into the inside wall, bring an abrupt end to the Turner triumvirate.
White led the field to the subsequent restart on Lap 91, with Piquet in second, Sauter third and Buescher fourth. White stayed out front until Parker Kilgerman’s Dodge spun sideways on Lap 95, scattering the back half of the field and damaging the trucks of David Starr, Ross Chastain, Dusty Davis and Bryan Silas.
Notes: Ward Burton finished eighth in his first start in any of NASCAR’s top three series since 2007… Paulie Harraka, who triggered an early wreck, got five straight “lucky dogs” (free passes to regain lost laps) as the highest-scored lapped car. He finished 19th in his first start in the series.