Leaders wreck, handing Haley win in Truck playoff opener

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

BOWMANVILLE, Ontario (AP) Justin Haley took the lead after Noah Gragson and Todd Gilliland collided on the final turn in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoff opener Sunday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Gragson attempted to pass Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Gilliland on the inside and both spun out. The 19-year-old Haley, from Winamac, Indiana, slipped past them on the inside in his Chevrolet for his second victory of the season and his career.

"We were just in the right place at the right time," Haley said. "I can't thank everyone at GMS Racing enough. It was a truly blessed day."

He also earned an automatic spot in the second round of the playoffs.

"This is what we came to do," said Haley, also the winner on the Gateway oval in June. "This is road-course racing and now we are really looking forward to Vegas. Mission accomplished."

Gragson took immediate responsibility for the contact in the final corner.

"That was on me," Gragson said. "I was racing for the win. I apologize to Todd, the No. 4 team and everyone at KBM. I was expecting a little more room on the bottom and we made contact. Again I want to apologize to everyone on that 4 team, that was on me."

John Hunter Nemechek was second in the 65-lap race on the 2.459-mile course, followed by Brett Moffitt, Timothy Peters, Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter, Stewart Friesen and Austin Hill.

Gragson ended up ninth. He passed Rhodes with 13 laps left in the first stage and held on to win the segment. Gragson then led most of the way to win the second stage.

Gilliland finished 11th.

"I should have never let him (Gragson) get to me," Gilliland said. "We should have given him the inside. We had the fastest truck and we didn't win again."

Pole-sitter Ben Rhodes was in the top five on the final lap, but spun out on Turn 5 and finished 14th.

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Updated August 26, 2018

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