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Becomes first driver to win back-to-back titles in Camping World Truck Series RELATED: Wallace Jr. wins Ford EcoBoost 200 HOMESTEAD, Fla. – After becoming the first driver to ever win consecutive NASCAR Camping World Truck Series titles, Matt Crafton could talk about making history. "Definitely an awesome feeling," Crafton said, after joining Ron Hornaday Jr ., Todd Bodine and Jack Sprague as the only drivers to win the NCWTS crown more than once. "To be on the list with those guys is unreal. To say that I've done it back-to-back and no one has done that, it's such a good, good feeling." But Crafton, sitting between crew chief (Carl) Junior Joiner and ThorSport Racing General Manager David Pepper, wasn't about to take all the credit. "To say I made history is definitely very, very cool. But it's all about the guys that are behind me. Without them, I'm just an average race car driver at best." Completing his 14th full season, Crafton, 38, has run his entire NCWTS career for Sandusky, Ohio-based ThorSport and owners Duke and Rhonda Thorson. "The very first time I sat down with Duke at the end of 2000 he told me going to run this like a business," Crafton recalled. "He said: 'We're going to make it better and better each year but I'm not going to outspend myself or go away in two or three years. I'm going to be an owner who will be around for the long haul. If you want to stick it out with me, we'll win races and win championships.' " Stick it out, Crafton did. He didn't win a race until 2008, finished no higher than fifth in the point standings until 2009 and didn't win two races in a season until this year when he triumphed at Martinsville and Texas. "That's what makes it so much sweeter to be where we are today," Crafton said. "We didn't have all the resources and all the tools that we have today. I'd say (Duke) has been a man of his word – as has Rhonda – since the day I met him." Crafton said that after winning his first title a year ago, he promised Joiner the team would lead more laps and win more races in 2014. "We led more laps and won two races," he said. "We had the capability to win more if we didn't have bad luck in the middle part of the season. It's a damn shame, because I feel we should have won at least five races, without a doubt." But Crafton is hardly complaining. "I think I'm the luckiest man on earth," he said. "I'm getting paid to do what I love. I'm getting paid to drive a race car." Crafton entered Friday's Ford EcoBoost 200 with a relatively comfortable 25-point lead on Ryan Blaney . He knew that a finish of 21st or better in the 36-truck field would get the job done. He finished ninth, good enough to finish 21 points ahead of Blaney, who persevered for a fifth-place finish despite finishing the race with vise-grips replacing his broken shifter. He also raced cautiously throughout the first half of the race, maintaining a low line to keep a safe distance from the wall while maintaining his spot within the top 10. Any hope Blaney had virtually disintegrated during the fourth caution period of the race. The 20-year-old, who had been running second for much of the early going, suffered that shifter problem and dropped all the way to 15th on the restart. "That was one of the worst trucks we've had all year," Blaney said. "I can't believe we (managed to) finish fifth. That was tough." Kyle Larson led 96 of the first 100 laps and ended up chasing Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Darrell Wallace Jr . to the finish line in the closing laps. Wallace, driving the No. 54 Tundra, was thrilled to finally "beat the boss." Kyle Busch Motorsports captured its third NCWTS owner's championship in five seasons (second consecutively). Erik Jones made 12 starts and Busch drove 10 races in the No. 51 Toyota Tundra, which edged ThorSport and Crafton for the owner’s title by 24 points. "It's a great milestone for us," said Busch, who is ineligible to race for the driver's championship because he is a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitor. "It's what we can race for. We've had a lot of people come to KBM to work who have stayed a long time. Some move on to other things. That's really what the Truck Series is all about: a proving ground and a growing series." Wallace's victory gave KBM 14 wins for the season and provided Toyota with 18 triumphs, tying Chevrolet’s 2010 mark for most wins in a single season. Ben Kennedy was named NCWTS Sunoco Rookie of the Year, despite settling for 17th in his No. 31 Chevrolet. "We weren't really all that great tonight," Kennedy said, "but it pays off for the whole season we put together. It's a testament to this team and how hard the guys at Turner Scott Motorsports worked. When we were on, we were really on – up there with the top dogs. When we were off, we struggled a little bit, but we worked hard and we worked together to make the most out of each position and each lap." Kennedy held off Tyler Reddick (sixth in his No. 19 Ford on Friday) for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, based in part on each team's 14 best finishes of the season. 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
Four-time Truck Series champion will be back in action at Las Vegas and Texas NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Ron Hornaday Jr. will return to competition later this year in a deal put together by sponsor Rheem and NTS Motorsports with technical support from Richard Childress Racing . In a release posted on its web site, Rheem said the Atlanta, Georgia, based company would sponsor an entry for Hornaday for two of the final seven races in the series –- the Sept. 27 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as well as the Oct. 31 event at Texas Motor Speedway . According to the company, Rheem "has been working to find the best available truck equipment, crew and technical expertise in an effort to return Hornaday to the truck series before the end of the 2014 season." Hornaday, with funding provided in part by Rheem, was fourth in points when Turner Scott Motorsports officials ceased operations for the No. 30 team earlier this month. He did not compete at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park , dropping to sixth in points, and is not in Saturday night's Lucas Oil 225 at Chicagoland Speedway . NTS currently fields two Truck Series teams with Brennan Newberry and Gray Gaulding as the primary drivers for those teams and the organization has also had Michael Annett, Austin Dillon , John King , Justin Lofton , Chase Pistone and Jason White drive trucks for them this year. It is expected that the Hornaday team will be in addition to those two teams. "Rheem is pleased to play a part in bringing Ron Hornaday back to where he belongs … racing trucks to win and bringing excitement and enjoyment to Camping World Truck Series fans," Ed Raniszeski, managing director for Rheem Motorsports, said. "None of this would have been possible without the solid support of NTS Motorsports and RCR. "We all welcome Ron back and can't wait to see him back in the saddle." Hornaday is a four-time series champion, winning Truck Series titles in 1996, '98, 2007 and '09. He has 51 career wins in the series. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: NASCAR Chase Grid games WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Loss of ride sidelined veteran for past three events Four-time series champion Ron Hornaday Jr ., idle for the last three races, will return to NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . Hornaday is scheduled to drive the No. 9 Chevrolet for NTS Motorsports in Saturday night's Rhino Linings 350 (10 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). The 56-year-old veteran drove the No. 9 for Joe Denette Motorsports in 2012, then continued in the truck the following year when Denette's team merged with truck owner Bob Newberry's to form NTS. Hornaday was forced to the sidelines after last month's race at Bristol Motor Speedway when Turner Scott Motorsports dialed back its operation from three full-time trucks to two. He returns to the series with a streak of three top-fives in his last four races. "I want to say thanks to Bob Newberry and Rheem for working together to give me this great opportunity to get back behind the wheel of a NCWTS Silverado," said Hornaday, who still ranks 10th in series standings despite missing three races. "I'm looking forward to racing in Las Vegas, as we have a lot of family and friends on the West Coast that will be there." Hornaday has a history of success at the 1.5-mile track outside Sin City. He prevailed at Vegas from the Keystone Light Pole in 2011 while driving for team owner Kevin Harvick , and he finished sixth after leading 23 laps his last time out at LVMS last season. Ryan McKinney will serve as crew chief for Hornaday's efforts this weekend. Four drivers -- Justin Lofton , Brennan Newberry , Chase Pistone and Jason White -- have taken turns behind the wheel of the NTS No. 9 this season. 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
Talladega has seen a number of surprising winners over the years