Matt Crafton Wins in Shortened UNOH 225by Kyle Pokrefky July 10, 2015 0 comments
SPARTA, Ky. — For the fourth time this season, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship leader Matt Crafton ended a race in victory lane as the 39-year-old out of Tulare, Calif. took victory in Thursday’s UNOH 225 at Kentucky Speedway.
Declared the race winner during a red flag period on Lap 145 after the No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota of Ben Kennedy hit and damaged the catch fence entering Turn 1, Crafton claimed the first win of his career at Kentucky and his ninth overall in the Camping World Truck Series ranks.
Scored in the top-10 behind the driver of the No. 88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota were Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney, Daniel Suarez, Timothy Peters, Tyler Reddick, David Gilliland, John Wes Townley, Cameron Hayley and Brandon Jones.
“The last couple of years, we haven’t been too stellar here,” Crafton said. “[Carl Joiner Jr., crew chief] actually called me this week and was like ‘what’re we going to do about this place?’ and I said ‘this used to be one of my favorite race tracks’ and he said a few choice words because we’ve been so bad here.
“I had all of the confidence in the world. From what we had last year, the year before, Junior brought back 100-percent of a different setup. To go into that first corner and to have 100-percent confidence in what these guys bring to the race track – I don’t know what we could have did to make it that much better. It was really really good.”
With the 31 drivers to take the green flag for the race starting the scheduled 150-lapper completely cold with no track time at all on the mile-and-a-half speedway, teams needed the perfect setup from start-to-finish in order to have a shot at the win.
It’s safe to say that Joiner Jr. delivered.
“We always joke about it, you know?” Joiner Jr. said. “Going out and racing like men and racing with what you have with no practice – just straight off the trailer. I don’t think we ever thought it would happen, and it happened today.
“You’ve got to be careful what you wish for. I was a little nervous going in as there was so many variables.”
With his win in Thursday night’s race, Crafton slightly extended his points lead to 20 points over Reddick and to 27 points over second-place finisher Erik Jones.
Jones, the driver of the No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota, led the most laps of the night for the third race in a row with a tally of 55 circuits led.
“Our Tundra was pretty good,” Jones said. “We didn’t start off exactly where we needed, we started off pretty free and it kind of tightened up and it got to a point where the sun went down and I was pretty comfortable with it. We didn’t quite have the speed that Matt had, but we got in the clean air a couple times and we were able to hold him off behind us taking the air away from him.
“Matt got a good push on the restart and cleared us. He got the right push at the right time – that’s how it’s going to go sometimes. I wish we could have had another restart to at least have a shot, but it was a good night overall.”
Prior to Kennedy’s accident that sent his car sliding along the catch fence, eight other caution flags flew – the first being a competition caution on Lap 22.
Spencer Gallagher and Brandon Brown brought out the second and third cautions of the night with their respective spins on Lap 28 and Lap 45 while a debris caution caused the fourth caution of the night on Lap 103.
An accident between Daniel Hemric and Caleb Holman in Turn 2 on Lap 127 and a solo accident by Christopher Bell in Turn 4 on Lap 134 brought out the respective fifth and sixth cautions of the race.
The final caution before Kennedy’s incident also brought out the red flag for three-and-a-half minutes on Lap 141 following an accident between Gallagher and Townley.
Kennedy himself walked away from his Lap 145 accident that also involved Gilliland and Townley.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be in action next on Wednesday, July 22nd, in the 1-800-CarCash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway.
Top-10 Finishers of the UNOH 225
- 88 – Matt Crafton – Toyota – ThorSport Racing
- 4 – Erik Jones# – Toyota – Kyle Busch Motorsports
- 29 – Ryan Blaney(i) – Ford – Brad Keselowski Racing
- 51 – Daniel Suarez(i) – Toyota – Kyle Busch Motorsports
- 17 – Timothy Peters – Toyota – Red Horse Racing
- 19 – Tyler Reddick – Ford – Brad Keselowski Racing
- 92 – David Gilliland(i) – Ford – RBR Enterprises
- 05 – John Wes Townley – Chevrolet – Athenian Motorsports
- 13 – Cameron Hayley# – Toyota – ThorSport Racing
- 33 – Brandon Jones# – Chevrolet GMS Racing
Top-10 in the Drivers Standings after Round 10 of 23
- 88 – Matt Crafton – ThorSport Racing – 417 | Leader
- 19 – Tyler Reddick – Brad Keselowski Racing – 397 | -20
- 4 – Erik Jones# – Kyle Busch Motorsports – 390 | -27
- 98 – Johnny Sauter – ThorSport Racing – 359 | -58
- 05 – John Wes Townley – Athenian Motorsports – 330 | -87
- 17 – Timothy Peters – Red Horse Racing – 322 | -95
- 13 – Cameron Hayley# – ThorSport Racing – 315 | -102
- 23 – Spencer Gallagher# – GMS Racing – 308 | -109
- 14 – Daniel Hemric# – NTS Motorsports – 308 | -109
- 11 – Ben Kennedy – Red Horse Racing – 297 | -120
# = Rookie, (i) = Ineligible for NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points.
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PHOTO CREDIT: Sarah Crabill/Getty Images