Matt Crafton spins out into the grass but avoids any contact at Kansas Speedway in the late stages of the Toyota Tundra 250.
Matt Crafton , who races a dirt modified to hone his dirt-racing skills, charges late and holds off a dominant Stewart Friesen to take the checkered flag at Eldora Speedway.
Matt Crafton's streak of top-10 finishes at Iowa Speedway comes to an end as he takes a hard hit into the wall in the closing laps of the Camping World Truck Series race.
Matt Crafton does the dirt version of celebratory donuts at Eldora Speedway.
RELATED: Full race results MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Those who were delivering a post-mortem to Matt Crafton 's hopes for a third straight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title after last weekend's race at Talladega learned on Saturday that the lid on the coffin is far from nailed shut. Crafton survived five restarts in the final 50 laps of Saturday's Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway and won the race by .396 seconds over John Hunter Nemechek , who shoved third-place finisher Cameron Hayley out of the way after a restart with two laps left to secure the runner-up position. With his fifth victory of the season, his second at the .526-mile short track and the 10th of his career, Crafton chopped 13 points off the series lead of Erik Jones , who struggled throughout the afternoon and came home 10th. Crafton moved into second place in the standings, 10 points behind Jones with three races left in the season. Fifth-place finisher Tyler Reddick is third in points, 13 behind Jones. Crafton grabbed the lead from Nemechek after a restart on Lap 137 of 200 and held it the rest of the way. Polesitter Cole Custer , who ran fourth, led a race-high 96 laps but wasn't able to regain the top spot after suffering a pit road speeding penalty under caution on Lap 124. For Crafton , though, the race was a dramatic turnaround after a late wreck a week earlier at Talladega dropped him to 24th at the finish, third in the standings and seemingly out of touch with Jones. But the misfortune at NASCAR's longest oval turned on a dime at one of the sport's shortest. "We've had a very trying last two months, but to get back to Victory Lane is awesome," Crafton said. "These guys (his No. 88 ThorSport Toyota team) just never give up. We weren't that great on the short run, but like I said, I never give up on these guys. They keep fine-tuning and fine-tuning. "The second-to-last run, we just got really tight, for whatever reason, but (crew chief) Junior (Joiner) called an audible, made a little change there, and the thing was good. I just had to pace myself and save enough tires for the end of the race." Jones felt his Kyle Busch Motorsports team simply missed the setup for the race. "It was just a fight all day," said Jones, whose handling issues were compounded by a soft brake pedal. "We missed it a little bit as an organization. I think it showed we were off most of the day for the three trucks (including the Toyotas of 16th-place Daniel Suarez and 21st-place Gray Gaulding ). "We'll work on it and get it better." Ross Kenseth, son of 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Matt Kenseth , finished 17th in his Truck Series debut. Austin Cindric, son of Team Penske president Tim Cindric, had a strong top-10 run going in his maiden race in the series before running afoul of a three-wide wreck on the backstretch with eight laps left. After the crash, Cindric came home 25th, the last driver on the lead lap. The race featured 12 cautions, four short of the event record.
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings CONCORD, N.C. -- Matt Crafton had a lot to overcome on Saturday -- a 17th-place starting position and a difficult pit stall that cost him dearly in the early stages of Saturday's North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . But after 134 laps, Crafton was 5.748 seconds ahead of second-place Kyle Busch , winning the race and extending his series lead to 12 points over seventh-place finisher Timothy Peters . In fact, the two-time champion won consecutive races for the first time in his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career, going back-to-back in successive weeks at Dover and Charlotte. Even though it took Crafton more than half the race to get to the front, he sensed the quality of his ride from the drop of the green flag. "I literally did," Crafton said. "I was like, 'Wow!' This thing was unbelievable from the time we dropped the green. This thing went through (Turns) 1 and 2 -- well, the first original start, everybody got jumbled up and went through (Turns) 1 and 2 and then 3 and 4, and I'm like, 'This thing feels really good right here.' "Then we fell back to the 20s (after pit road issues) at that point and we started driving back through them and I was like, 'Oh, my goodness, these boys are in trouble today.' " The victory was the 13th of Crafton's career, but despite the wide margin of victory, his No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota didn't take the lead for the first time until Lap 80, when Crafton tracked down Peters and passed him for the top spot. After starting mid-pack, Crafton worked his way forward during the first run but had major issues on pit road, first sliding through his pit box and later getting blocked in his stall. The miscues forced Crafton to pass a gaggle of cars, but by Lap 78 he was fourth for a restart after Christopher Bell 's spin off Turn 4, and two laps later, Crafton had the lead. The advantage grew to more than 8.5 seconds before a cycle of green-flag pit stops for fuel trimmed Crafton's winning margin in the closing laps. Johnny Sauter did an extraordinary job of saving fuel and rolled home third behind Crafton and Busch. Tyler Reddick and Matt Tifft , the latter recently named to the 2016-17 NASCAR Next class, were fourth and fifth, respectively, both on fuel strategy. Spencer Gallagher , Peters, Bell, Daniel Hemric and polesitter William Byron completed the top 10. Busch led 27 laps in the early going but suffered a suspension part failure that caused the handling of his No. 18 Tundra to tighten up. Nor did it help that Busch's team was penalized for an uncontrolled tire during a pit stop on Lap 68, forcing the driver to restart at the rear of the field on Lap 71. "Once we got back in traffic, it just got super, super tight," said Busch, whose Kyle Busch Motorsports organization also owns the trucks driven by Bell, Byron and Daniel Suarez . "Something broke, and after that, it was just laying on the splitter."
A 2015 rewind and a 2016 preview for the top five finishers last season in the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series. Today: Matt Crafton , the third-place finisher in the truck series standings. Team: ThorSport Racing No. 88 Toyota. Wins: 6 (Atlanta, Kansas, Texas-1, Kentucky, Martinsville-2, Homestead) Strides: Victory Lane. Lots of times. The ThorSport No. 88 was nearly unstoppable on 1.5-mile tracks, scoring five of the team's six wins on intermediate tracks and helping Crafton more than double his career win total. Setbacks: Very few things on the team's minus side for 2015, but four finishes outside the top 20 hampered Crafton's progress and ended his stellar run of two consecutive Camping World Truck Series titles. Quoteworthy: "We had a phenomenal season. Six wins and 700 -- I think they said 780 laps we led. That's a pretty good season. We just had one column that was bad for us: DNFs. I made mistakes and everybody made mistakes. But I promise you one thing, it's going to make us stronger for 2016." What's next: The two-time champ turns 40 this summer and remains plenty hungry for more. After Johnny Sauter 's offseason departure, Crafton will have a 1-2 punch of young teammates to mentor -- returning ThorSport driver Cameron Hayley , 19, plus 18-year-old newcomer Ben Rhodes .
RELATED: Results " Standings " Chase Grid FORT WORTH, Texas -- You might say Johnny Sauter is on a roll. Then again, that might be an understatement. Passing Matt Crafton near the start/finish line with two laps left in Friday night’s Striping Technology 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway , Sauter pulled away to win his second straight race in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase. In the process, he deprived Crafton of a chance to clinch a spot in the Championship 4 finale, set for Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Crafton won a drag race to the stripe against Daniel Hemric to secure the runner-up spot, .836 seconds behind Sauter. "This is amazing," said Sauter, who started 16th in his No. 21 Chevrolet and won for the third time this season, the third time at Texas (having swept the 2012 races) and the 13th time in his career. " Matt was content to keep running the bottom, and I made a couple of runs on that restart (on Lap 130 of 147, after the third and final caution). "They got me great track position on the pit stop, and I just kept bottoming the splitter out on the short run, and I could just not fire off. ... Matt just kept running the bottom, and I was like, 'I'm going to the top.' And I was pretty successful on the top down in (Turns) 3 and 4 all night long -- just big momentum." About the only low point of Sauter's night was his post-race burnout -- but that was by design. "I've got to apologize to the fans for the burnout," Sauter said. "I know it was lame, but I've got to have this truck for Homestead." Crafton , a two-time series champion, overcame a scrape against the outside wall and a suspect battery to run second. "We were just off all night," Crafton said. "I got drove into the fence off Turn 2, and the right-rear tail is moved over quite a bit and we got really free up off the corner. I was trying to manage, and with about four (laps) to go I just got really free and I was like, 'Oh, boy.' "I was hoping that Johnny and the 19 (Hemric) raced each other a lot longer than they did." Polesitter Spencer Gallagher , Sauter's teammate at GMS Racing, led a race-high 88 laps but lost six positions on pit road before the final restart, thanks to a slow tire change on the right rear of his No. 23 Chevrolet. RELATED: Despite dominance, Gallagher comes up short Chase drivers Ben Kennedy and Timothy Peters finished 13th and 14th, respectively, and are currently below the Chase cut line. Peters is fifth in the standings, one point behind Crafton in fourth. Kennedy is sixth, 13 points behind Crafton heading to Phoenix, where the Chase field will be cut from six drivers to the final four next Friday. Sauter is the only driver guaranteed to race for the championship at Homestead. William Byron, who leads the series with six victories, finished sixth on Friday and held second place in the Chase standings. Christopher Bell came home 11th after late contact with the Toyota of Cameron Hayley and is third in points, but the gap between the second- and fifth-place Chase drivers is a mere five points. The only three cautions of the night resulted from the expiration of the caution clock, which runs in 20-minute increments from the drop of a green flag. The previous high number for caution clocks in a single race was two. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
RELATED: Race results " Grala earns first career win DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Matt Crafton 's position as a 17th-year veteran and two-time champion in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has afforded him the clout to hand out scrutiny about how his peers race. The late-race intensity that sent his No. 88 Toyota arcing skyward like paper in a gale, though, was met with a shrug and a grin. "That was just last-lap Daytona," Crafton said. Rookie Kaz Grala prevailed in Friday's Camping World Truck Series opener at Daytona International Speedway , somehow threading his way through chaos at the front of the pack to win the NextEra Energy Resources 250 . The event was bookended by wild crashes, one on Lap 2 and the last on the 100th and final trip around the 2.5-mile track. Crafton's wheels-up pirouette became the focal point of the last-lap fracas. The 40-year-old driver's ThorSport Racing entry emerged at the front of the pack shortly after the white flag dropped, helped by an aerodynamic assist from teammate Ben Rhodes . The pack wound up in a three-wide jumble as it headed to the backstretch for the final time, with Johnny Sauter , winner of the race's opening two stages, in the middle and Rhodes shuffled up top. Patience was long gone by then. Rhodes lost control as new teammate Grant Enfinger's bumper shoves amplified. Crafton was nearly clear of the fray, but Rhodes' truck clipped his right-rear fender to trigger the chain reaction. "I'm like, 'oh, this is not good,' " said Crafton , who wound up 14th in the 32-truck field. "Then you feel that light sensation and you know what's going to happen from there. … "I'm very happy that it only went over one time and landed back on its wheels, without a doubt. The race was just … it was crazy, just chaos all night and there was just stupidity all night to say the least. Some of this plate racing is crazy. I mean, they beat the rear bumper off some of these trucks. I don't know how they didn't wreck more, to be honest. A lot of people did a lot of great, great saves out there." Sauter was attempting to become the season opener's first back-to-back winner since Todd Bodine repeated in 2008-09. But his GMS Racing truck was snared in the late pileup, with Crafton's No. 88 appearing to land on the bed of Sauter's. "I elected to go three-wide and tried to make something happen, because who the hell wants to finish second, you know?" said Sauter, who was scored 15th. "In hindsight, there's a million different scenarios that go through your mind and I'll have a lot better grasp of it when I can sit home and watch it, study it and try not to make the same mistake next time." The final crash was especially costly to ThorSport, which had all four of its Toyotas added to the 12-truck crash tally. "I don't know what else to say because these guys have worked so hard," said Rhodes, credited with 12th place. "I've got such good teammates. It's unfortunate we were all caught up in it." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
RELATED: Results " Chase Grid MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- The potential for a topsy-turvy day in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase never quite ripened Saturday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway . But the relative calm still left a bag of mixed fortunes, a dose of hurt feelings and the customary bending of sheet metal. Only Johnny Sauter enjoyed smooth sailing in the Texas Roadhouse 200 on the way to his second victory of the season and an automatic berth in the Championship 4 finale Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway . The remaining five Chase drivers either held serve with top 10s (see Christopher Bell , Timothy Peters and William Byron) or salvaged midpack finishes after experiencing late-race adversity ( Matt Crafton and Ben Kennedy ).