Matt Crafton wins Truck race at Charlotte
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."
The Rundown: Charlotte driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings Breaking down the full field for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway : 1. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . A historic win. Truex set so many records, we can't list them all. So we'll settle for this one: He led a Sprint Cup -record 588 miles. Oh, and his 392 laps led ... taken alone, they would rank 121st all time in series history. Grade: AAA+ (and that might be a tad low) 2. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Another second-place finish for Harvick (47th of his career). One more and he ties Lee Petty for 10th all time. Grade: A 3. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson sniffed the lead after the final restart, but Superman said no. Instead, Johnson will be the answer to the trivia question: Who led the second-most laps (five) of the 2016 Coca-Cola 600 ? Sort of like: Who was the second-leading scorer the night Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game? And, no, I don't know. Grade: A 4. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin picked up 5 seconds on leader Martin Truex Jr . on the night's second pit stop ... and still lost by 6.4 seconds. That'll happen in a 600-mile race. Grade: A 5. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski and Kevin Harvick raced so close to each other for the first half of the race, you'd have thought a big ol' magnet in one of the cars was keeping them side by side. Grade: A 6. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch increased his series-leading top-10 finishes to 11 and also moved up a spot to second in the standings behind Kevin Harvick . Grade: A 7. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Disaster came knocking on a green-flag pit stop late in the first half of the race when Austin Dillon fired out of his pit stall and went way wide into Kenseth. Fortunately the impact was minimal. Grade: A 8. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott was running eighth when he was hit with a speeding penalty on the first pit stop; 373 laps later he finished eighth. Nice job. Grade: A 9. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Not that Logano would have been able to run down Martin Truex Jr ., but any chance at the win went away during green-flag pit stops around Lap 254 when a crew member was over the wall too soon. After serving the penalty, Logano was 21st, one lap down, which effectively ended his night. The team battled back, but that's a mistake that can't be made, especially with your driver running so well in such a big race. Grade: D 10. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman was penalized for speeding on pit road during the third caution but battled back to post his fourth top 10 of the season and move up a spot to 16th in the standings. Grade: B 11. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle posted his best finish of the season but couldn't end his drought of top-10 finishes. His previous top 10 was last September at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when he finished fourth. Grade: B 12. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon started 28th and needed all 400 laps to claw his way up. Grade: B 13. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson made a lot of noise early and was running fourth at the halfway point before fading. Grade: B 14. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Junior was on pit road when the final yellow flag came out, and he took the wave-around to return to the lead lap ... albeit a little deeper in the field for the final restart with 56 laps to go. He was never vying for a win, but that cost him a higher finish. Grade: B 15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse was the lucky dog on the final caution, enabling him to score his sixth finish in the teens (13th through 16th) in the past seven races. Grade: B 16. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger's 19.3 average running position was highest among drivers finishing in the top 20 and his 10 laps in the top 15 were the lowest. Grade: C 17. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard's 11th-place-finish at Dover coupled with his 17th Sunday gave him his second-best back-to-back finishes of the season, behind his 15th-8th at Auto Club and Martinsville. Grade: C 18. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards was a fixture in the top 10 and running third when he was hit with two green-flag pit-road speeding penalties. The first came when he was too fast entering the pits on Lap 298. The second came when he was too fast entering pit road to do his pass-through penalty, which required him to do a stop-and-go on the next lap. That put a fork in any chance for a decent finish: Grade: D 19. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray's average running position was 19.1, and that's exactly where he finished. Grade: C 20. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Not a bad finish considering Blaney was hit with his first pit-road speeding penalty of the season on the competition caution, had to return to pit road because of a loose wheel during the third caution and had his right rear tire go down with three laps to go. Grade: C 21. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Danica's consistent: Sunday's finish was her eighth in the 20s this season. Grade: C 22. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne's right front tire went down early putting him two laps back, and he spent the rest of the night slowly making up ground. Grade: C 23. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Bowyer was never a factor and saw his string of top-20 finishes end at three. Grade: C 24. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart qualified 21st but rolled off the grid 39th when NASCAR caught a crew member making an unauthorized change to the car on pit road before the race. A pit-road penalty for speeding during the third caution didn't help things, either. Grade: D 25. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Since getting his first top 10 of the season at Bristol, Bayne has had a top-10 finish every other race. If the pattern holds, he'll get his first top 10 at Pocono next week. Grade: C 26. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola finished outside the top 10 for the 14th consecutive race, the fourth-longest such streak of his Cup career. Grade: C 27. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Of the season's 13 races, Cassill has finished 25th, 26th, 27th or 28th six times. Grade: C 28. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Smith posted his second-best finish in his past eight races. Grade: C 29. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Scott finished in the top 30 for the fourth race in a row. Grade: C- 30. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears' finish is his worst in the 600 since a 33rd-place finish in the rain-shortened 2009 race while driving for Richard Childress Racing . Grade: D 31. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Ragan finished seven laps back but was running at the finish; he had DNFs in both Charlotte races last year. Grade: D 32. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . Although he finished 32nd, DiBenedetto was running at the finish, unlike in two of the previous three races. Grade: D 33. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch was running 10th and flirting with a top-10 finish when he cut a tire with seven laps to go and smacked the outside wall hard. Instead, he finished with his second straight DNF. Grade: B- 34. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . McDowell posted his worst finish of the season. Grade: D 35. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Whitt was running at the finish, nine laps back. Grade: D 36. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett finished 10 laps back. Grade: F 37. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Buescher could not build on his career-best 18th-place finish at Dover. Grade: F 38. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Wise finished 13 laps back but was running at the finish for the fourth time in the past five races. Grade: F 39. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing . Earnhardt's finish was a season low. Grade: F 40. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson completed 200 laps before clutch issues ended his night. Grade: F
Who will go the distance at Charlotte?
NASCAR.com's Jonathan Merryman and Chris Rice talk about the challenges of 600 miles at Charlotte Motor Speedway and who they think will be able to go the distance in the Coca-Cola 600.
North Carolina Education Lottery 200 lineup
Kyle Busch will lead off the start of the North Carolina Education Lottery 200
As sun sets at Charlotte, so does Junior's speed
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings CONCORD, N.C. -- In a race punctuated by long, green-flag runs, Dale Earnhardt Jr . went from 25th to 10th in the opening 60 laps of Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . While most of those in the top 10 were holding their own, Earnhardt and Kyle Larson ( Chip Ganassi Racing ) were on the move. Larson had started 24th and cracked the top 10 after only 40 laps on the 1.5-mile track. Earnhardt's No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet climbed as high as seventh early. But as daylight turned to darkness and the track temperature cooled, Earnhardt's fortunes also waned. "We made a ton of changes all night trying to help the car," Earnhardt, 14th at the finish, said. "We were stuck there around 11th and couldn't move forward. " The way it took off at the start of the race I thought it showed a lot of promise. There were times in the race when we ran top-five laps but track position hurt us, the track cooled off and everybody was running the bottom. It was just hard to pass." Restart opportunities were few -- the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' longest race at 600 miles was slowed only four times by caution flags. The final yellow, for debris on the backstretch, fell with only 60 laps remaining and Earnhardt already on pit road. By taking the wave-around, he was able to remain on the lead lap, but not allowed to pit under the yellow. "When they don't throw the debris cautions, we're going to have a lot of green flag (stops)," he said. "We got caught on pit road when one of those debris cautions came out late in the race and it bit us. "There wasn't any debris out on the track (for much of the race) so there wasn't any use in throwing the yellow; they didn't and we ran green." With three second-place finishes in the first eight races, Earnhardt had been as high as sixth in points. But recent weeks haven't been as kind to the team. Sunday's result was his seventh outside the top 10 and he's winless through the season's first 13 stops. He'll head to Pocono Raceway next weekend 13th in points. "We were doing OK, running about 10th , 11th all night," he said. "When the race started, the car was great and we moved all the way up to seventh. "I was really happy with the car, but when it got cool the top (groove) went away. The track cooled off, the bottom gripped up and that's where everybody ran."
Staff picks for Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte
Kasey Kahne : The Coca-Cola 600 is such a different animal that rewards mental acuity, pure tenacity and physical fitness. Kasey Kahne has those qualities and won NASCAR's endurance event three times, and with two top-five finishes already this season, this is where he breaks out of his 59-race winless rut. -- Kathy Sheldon Joey Logano : It'll be a clean Charlotte sweep for Sliced Bread, who got his mojo back during the Sprint All-Star Race. Last week's $1 million win probably felt spectacular -- the feeling may be equal Sunday night when Logano celebrates his biggest NASCAR victory to date. -- Brad Norman Carl Edwards : He's the defending race winner and has posted five straight top 10s at Charlotte. Kevin Harvick is the only other driver who can say that, but the No. 19 pit crew gives him the edge -- by a footlong Subway sandwich at the finish. -- George Winkler Kevin Harvick : This one's an easy pick for me. There's a reason why Harvick sits atop the standings and that's exactly where he'll stay after cruising to another Coca-Cola 600 win. -- Maggie MacKenzie Joey Logano : The most recent Charlotte winner, Logano's No. 22 Ford seems ready for 600 miles of action, as he topped two of the three rounds of qualifying, scoring a second-place starting position. With a fast car and plenty of momentum after his All-Star win, look for the Team Penske driver to punch his ticket to the Chase Sunday with his first '16 victory. -- Jessica Ruffin Martin Truex Jr . : Forget about what has gone wrong late in races for the No. 78 team, Truex has consistently been one of the best on the intermediate tracks this season. The Furniture Row Racing driver will cash in on his pole run and strong pit spot for his first win of 2016. -- RJ Kraft Joey Logano : Becomes first driver to sweep All-Star race and Coca-Cola 600 since Kurt Busch in 2010. Logano drives the No. 22 Ford for team owner Roger Penske, Busch's team owner in '10. -- Kenny Bruce
Truex jokes about Johnson's brief pass for the lead
Martin Truex Jr. jokes about letting Jimmie Johnson pass him for the lead for "being a good sport" in the Coca-Cola 600. It was the only time during the race that Martin Truex Jr. was passed under the green flag.
Truex snaps streak, dominates to win the Coca-Cola 600
Martin Truex Jr. dominates at Charlotte Motor Speedway leading a NASCAR record 392 of 400 laps to win the Coca-Cola 600.
Larson on falling short: 'I'm used to it by now'
Kyle Larson talks after a coming up short of a victory in the Hisense 4K TV 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The Climb: Who will conquer 600 miles?
NASCAR.com's Jonathan Merryman and Chris Rice give you their picks on who they think will win the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.