Contact on pit road and a black flag cause Matt Crafton to drop back in the Fred's 250 powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega.
Defending series champion holds 19-point lead over teammate Equipped with a 19-point lead over his ThorSport teammate Johnny Sauter with five races left in the season, Matt Crafton seems well on his way to becoming the first repeat champion in the 20-year history of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series . Despite his lead and momentum from a trio of consecutive top-three finishes, the 38-year-old does not want to set his sights on his second driver points championship just yet. "I'm looking forward to the next thing we're going to do at Talladega. We get through that and then I'll start looking (toward Homestead)," Crafton said. "I'm not even going to worry about it to be honest. I'm going to go into each and every race to just go to win. If we get through Talladega, I'll feel a lot better at that point." Crafton has struggled at Talladega throughout his career. In eight starts at the 2.66-mile track, he claims an average finish of 15.5 -- almost four places lower than his career mark of 11.8. The driver most likely to catch him, Sauter, boasts a 7.0 average finish at Talladega and took the checkered flag in last year's race there. "I'm not even a little bit worried about 19 points," Crafton said. "It could be one point. I could be 19 points back. I'm not even worried about that to be totally honest. I'm worried about just going each and every week, do what we keep doing, do what we started doing at the beginning of the year, go there to win races and the points will come." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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Michael Waltrip Racing driver is on baby watch at Loudon MORE: Bowyers to welcome son: 'It's got a dingy' RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Clint Bowyer is on baby watch as his wife Lorra is expecting the couple's first child. Bowyer is at New Hampshire for this weekend's Sprint Cup Series race, the Sylvania 300 (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN) and was pra cticing in the his No. 15 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing in Friday's opening practice. Defending Camping World Truck Series champion and current series points leader Matt Crafton is on standby for Bowyer. @MRNRadio @ClintBowyer @dustinlong Crafton is technically on standby in case needed — K.C. (@KristineC15) September 19, 2014 Bowyer has a favorable history at the Magic Mile. He has two of his eight Sprint Cup wins at the track. It's a duty familiar to Crafton , as he was held on standby for Paul Menard as he and his wife were expecting the birth of a child at Las Vegas earlier this year. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Multiple drivers face different obstacles at Talladega TALLADEGA, Ala. -- "Ladies and gentlemen, congratulations -- you got your money's worth," Spencer Gallagher exclaimed after the finish of an action-packed fred's 250 powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega Superspeedway . The track threw its best at the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title contenders, with penalties, wrecks and debris shaking up the points standings several times throughout the 95 laps. It all started with points leader Matt Crafton . The No. 88 pitted under the race's first caution and as Crafton pulled out of his pit stall, the neon yellow Menards/Fishers Nuts Toyota got into the back of the No. 99 of Bryan Silas as he turned into his own stall, doing damage to both trucks and turning around the No. 99. An additional pit stop was required to fix the damage of the No. 88, after which Crafton battled visibility issues. "We definitely had a lot to overcome," Crafton said after the race. "We got our first pit stop, got tore up on pit road. Then after that, it was downhill. I had so much chatter on the radio. 'What do I do? Do I wait back here? I'm stuck back here.' " After making his way back into the top three, Crafton got an unwelcome push draft from the No. 8 of Joe Nemechek . The result was a black flag from NASCAR, which sent both cars to pit road to serve a pass-through penalty. "They're black-flagging us, and I don't get it," the No. 88 crew chief Carl Joiner said over the radio to a furious Crafton . "Tell Joe, 'Thanks a lot, you (expletive) idiot.' " Crafton's teammate Johnny Sauter didn't have an easier time at the restrictor-plate track. He ran over debris 20 laps into the race, and a punctured radiator caused the No. 98 to fall off the pace at Lap 25 without any warning. "Another kick in the (expletive)," Sauter said as his team worked in the garage. Sauter came to Talladega in second place in the standings, 19 points behind Crafton , with an anything-goes attitude, saying, "If it works out, great, if not, oh well. That's just the attitude you have to have." That attitude changed quickly. "Championship's over, and from here on out we can just race like hell," Sauter lamented from the garage. Even Ryan Blaney , who made his way into Sauter's second-place position in the points standings, 16 points behind Crafton , had to battle his way up the points standings. En route to his 19th top-five finish of his Truck Series career, the Brad Keselowski Racing driver earned a speeding penalty during green-flag pit stops on Lap 44, sending him a lap down after running at the front for 30 of the race's first 43 laps. "We gained about 10 (points) on Matt so that was good," Blaney said. "We had a great … truck. I made a mistake early and sped on pit road and that kind of put us back a little bit. But we got right back up to the front really fast." Darrell Wallace Jr. , hoping for his first champagne celebration in Victory Lane after turning 21 earlier in the month, started the race in 27th, but teamed up with eventual race-winner Timothy Peters early on to move into the top 10 by Lap 4. Wallace ended the day in third place in the standings, 28 points behind Crafton after a ninth-place finish, while Peters earned the title of biggest mover toward the top of the points standings, moving into fifth from seventh, cutting 18 points off his deficit. "Obviously we know that the championship might be out our reach, but who knows, maybe we could pull the Hornaday and win the rest 'em and be right back in it," Peters said. After picking the wrong line on a final restart, Crafton went home with a 14th-place finish. Thorsport Racing teammate Sauter was unable to get back onto the track, finishing 71 laps down in 31st. When the dust settled at one of NASCAR's most unpredictable tracks, however, Crafton lost only three points of his buffer at the top of the leaderboard. "At least we got out of here somewhat in decent shape," Crafton said. As his teammate knows, Talladega could have done much worse. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Veteran holds off Malsam, Gallagher for first win of 2014 season RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings TALLADEGA, Ala.—Holding off all challengers in a race that went four-wide on the final two laps, Timothy Peters won the fred's 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway . Peters arrived at the finish line .143 seconds ahead of second-place starter and finisher Tayler Malsam . Spencer Gallagher ran third, followed by Tyler Reddick and Ryan Blaney , who trimmed 14th-place finisher Matt Crafton ’s lead in the series standings to 16 points with four races left in the season. The victory was Peters' first of the season, his first at Talladega and the eighth of his career. After ducking onto the apron to ensure a strong flow to the fuel pickup in his No. 17 Toyota, Peters, who had charged forward from the 26th starting position, led the field to a green-white-checkered-flag finish on Lap 94 of 95, after Norm Benning 's spin in Turn 2 slowed the field for the sixth time. With a strong push from Malsam, Peters hugged the inside line into Turn 1 with Ryan Blaney to his outside. As the field spread out over the final two laps to three-wide and even four-wide, Peters doggedly held the lead and took the checkered flag with Malsam in his tow. "Chris Lambert, who spots for me, did a great job from the time the green flag fell till the checkered flag waved," Peters said. "It was system overload, telling me everything, how far apart they were in front of me, how close the guy behind me was, what run was coming on the outside coming to the checkered flag… "We were making our Toyota Tundra as wide as we could (on the final two laps), and so it feels really good to come across the start/finish line and kind of wipe missing the Daytona/Talladega sweep by (16) hundredths of a second (Peters finished second at Daytona by that margin earlier this year). "It just felt really good to go to Victory Lane." On the final restart, Blaney got a push from sixth-place finisher Erik Jones and thought he was in position for the win but acknowledged he didn't expect a third line to develop to his outside as quickly as it did. "I thought we were in the perfect spot, leading the outside line into Turn 2," Blaney said. But the side draft from the outside line separated Jones from Blaney and broke their momentum, dropping them out of contention for the win. A rare engine failure torpedoed Johnny Sauter 's championship hopes. Sauter's Toyota slowed on Lap 24 and coasted onto pit road. His resulting 31st-place finish left him fourth in the standings, 36 points behind Crafton , his ThorSport Racing teammate. "Whatever… the championship's over," a disconsolate Sauter said in the garage as his team worked on his Tundra. "From here on out, we can just race like hell." At a track legendary for wild action, Ben Kennedy sustained the hardest hit on Lap 65, when Joe Nemechek lost control of his truck and knocked Kennedy's Chevrolet into the outside wall. Nemechek's first concern was for Kennedy's safety. After learning he had walked away from the wreck, Nemechek radioed, "Put all of the blame for that one right square on my shoulders," indicating his Toyota had been sucked around in turbulent air. Note: Daniel Suarez finished 15th in his NCWTS debut. On Sunday, he races in his native Mexico in the NASCAR Toyota Mexico Series. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
After starting last, points leader frustrated with giving up lead late RELATED: Full race results LOUDON, N.H. -- Matt Crafton wasn't much for silver linings after a roundabout worst-to-first type of day, but a spirited rally from pre-race misfortune was the type of resilient performance that kept his bid for a repeat NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title on track. Crafton started dead last in the 30-truck field in Saturday's UNOH 175 , but turned in a stirring drive all the way to the lead before the last in a series of late-race restarts shuffled him to a third-place finish. He left with his lead in the series standings intact, adding two points for a seven-point edge over ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter , but the frustration in falling just short behind history-making 16-year-old race winner Cole Custer was evident in his succinct assessment of the race. "Started in the back, drove to the front, got beat at the end," Crafton said. It was a familiar sight to see Crafton playing with his daughter, Elladee, in the moments before the race, the 2-year-old toddler exploring the cockpit of his racer. It was quite unfamiliar to see his No. 88 Toyota so far back on the starting grid, the result of unapproved adjustments during Saturday morning's Keystone Light Pole Qualifying. Crafton's crew detected a loose battery plug and raised the hood during the opening round of knockout-style qualifying. Because of the violation, Crafton did not make a qualifying attempt. Starting at the rear of the field in such a short race loomed as a potentially devastating penalty, but instead wound up being a stroke of good fortune -- far better to catch the issue early rather than suffering mechanical gremlins during the 175-lap main event. "Actually, we were really lucky to find it in qualifying," said Carl "Junior" Joiner, Crafton's crew chief. "A little bad luck created some good luck." Said Crafton : "That definitely wasn't what we wanted, but at the same time it was very good that we found it when we did and not start the race in a dead end. We were very lucky there, but just super disappointed in the finish." Though Crafton wasn't able to show his speed in qualifying, he pounced at the drop of the green flag. By the end of the first lap, he had jumped from 30th to 19th place; just 20 laps in, he was up to the top 10. Crafton eventually found his way to the top five, then advanced over a flurry of late-race cautions to take the lead for the first time on Lap 152. He withstood the challenges for two late-race restarts, but not the final one as Custer -- in the lone front-running truck on four fresh tires -- and Darrell Wallace Jr . freight-trained past him with four laps left. "They led the most laps and sat on the pole, so he deserves a win," Joiner said of Custer's first career victory. "Hats off to those guys. I think our stuff was really good, man. I think we were probably the second-best truck if not the best, so we'll move on." While the dejection was clear in the No. 88 camp, the ability to take such a major comeback to nearly full fruition was an inspiring takeaway from a day that could've had a far worse outcome. With just 35 points spanning the top four spots in the standings, Crafton and Co. take the series lead to next weekend's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with six more races to try to close out championship No. 2. "I think if we don't get a yellow there (at the end), we're over there in Victory Lane right now, but that didn't happen and it's still a good, solid points day," Joiner said. "That's what these guys need to do. We've been strong, and I think we're about to hit stride. We've really stepped on some stuff and we're picking up our game. Just needed Lady Luck on our side, and I think maybe today, we had it." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Crafton holds a five-point lead over ThorSport teammate Johnny Sauter Matt Crafton found himself back in familiar territory following his second-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday night. The 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion reclaimed the top spot in the standings where he holds a five-point lead over ThorSport teammate Johnny Sauter . He can further distance himself from the field with a strong showing in Saturday's UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (1 p.m., FOX Sports 1) where the NCWTS returns after a two-year hiatus. With so many young drivers on the circuit, the 38-year-old has the advantage of having 11 previous starts on the 1.058-mile oval and boasts two top-fives and six top-10s there. "The (shorter) tracks are what I grew up on so I'm looking forward to the Truck Series getting back to Loudon," Crafton said. "It's been (three) years since the trucks have raced there, but I've had some good runs there in the past; we even got our first pole there in 2005." If he can stay out front, Crafton will become the first back-to-back champion and the fourth multi-title winner since the series began in 1995. At the moment, Crafton doesn't even have the points race on his mind, claiming he is only focused on winning events until the final race at Homestead. "Homestead is going to be when we are going to worry about (the points race)," Crafton said. "We are going to go to each and every race trying to win." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule