Chase Pistone sets fastest pace in first of two NASCAR Truck practices at Gateway

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Chase Pistone made a late surge to the top of the speed charts in Friday’s first of two Camping World Truck Series practice sessions at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Pistone covered the suburban St. Louis track, hosting its first Truck Series race – Saturday’s Drivin’ for Linemen 200 – since 2010, at a field-best speed of 136.141 mph.

Pistone achieved his top lap on the last of 21 practice laps.

Justin Lofton had the second-fastest top lap (135.497 mph), followed by Jeb Burton (135.412), last week’s Texas winner Matt Crafton (135.014) and Erik Jones (134.831).

Sixth through 10th-fastest were Cole Custer (134.529), German Quiroga Jr. (134.425), Joey Coulter (134.425), Darrell Wallace Jr. (134.156) and Ryan Blaney (133.833).

Caleb Roark, driving for Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing, was the slowest of the 27 drivers, recording a top speed of just 122.991 mph in only two laps around the track.

Ironically, only eight drivers entered for Saturday night’s race have ever driven a truck at Gateway in past years.

A total of 27 trucks took to the track in the first practice.

A second practice session will be held from 7 to 9 pm ET Friday evening.

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March 29 in Motorsports History: Scott Dixon wins first race after reunification

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Reunited and it felt so good.

That’s what drivers likely thought before the 2008 IndyCar opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

For the first time since 1995, major-league open-wheel racing in the United States was under the banner of a sole sanctioning body as Champ Car and the Indy Racing Leauge had reunified just a month prior.

Scott Dixon celebrates after winning the 2008 IndyCar opener at Homestead. Photo: Jim Hines/IndyCar.

The first race after reunification also saw a reversal of fortunes for Scott Dixon, who won the race after losing the 2007 IRL championship in crushing fashion.

In the 2007 season finale at Chicagoland Speedway, Dixon ran out of fuel while leading on the final lap of the race. The race victory – and championship – went to Dixon’s future teammate, Dario Franchitti.

But the tides turned for Dixon nearly seven months later, and the Kiwi was able to win with the help of another driver’s misfortune.

Tony Kanaan was leading with seven laps remaining when E.J. Viso spun and made contact with Kanaan’s car. Kanaan remained on track through the caution period despite suffering obvious damage to his right front suspension.

On the final restart with three laps remaining, Dixon and others cars easily passed Kanaan’s wounded car on the outside. Dixon then maintained his lead through the checkered flag to win at Homestead for the second time in his career.

“I think Marco (Andretti) and T.K. probably had a little bit better cars today, but we came through with the win, and that’s what counts,” Dixon told ESPN after his 12th career victory.

Following his victory at Homestead, Dixon continued to redeem himself through the course of the 2008 season. In May, he won the Indianapolis 500 for the first (and so far only) time. Following Indy, he went on to win four more times in 2008 and won his second series championship.

Also on this date:

1998: Mika Hakkinen won the Grand Prix of Brazil, the first of eight victories in his first championship season.

2010: Will Power won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which was held on a Monday morning because of rain postponing the race on Sunday.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter