Cale Gale battled Kyle Busch on a green-white-checker restart in the Ford EcoBoost 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday and was able to get the nose of his truck out in front of that of Busch’s No. 18 to claim his first-career series win by a scant margin of 0.014 seconds in the series season finale.
“I can tell you right now, coming out of turn four, that’s not my racing style,” Gale said of the contact he made with Busch on the final lap en route to win. The emotional victor went on to explain that he didn’t know when he’d have the same kind of opportunity (to win) again, so he had to take advantage of it.
Busch was relegated to the runner-up spot after leading several laps late in the race.
“It just doesn’t matter,” a dejected Busch said of the physicality of his late-race duel with Gale.
Joey Coulter finished third in the No. 22 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. With the top-three finish, Coulter was able to move from fourth to third in points to end the year in the top-three.
Parker Kligerman started on the pole and led the first five laps before he was passed Nelson Piquet Jr. Piquet remained up front for until Busch beat him off pit road during a caution that came out on lap 35 to restart in the lead position. Busch held on to the lead until he was passed by Kyle Larson on lap 51.
Larson, in only his fourth-career Truck Series race, was able to stay up front until the race field cycled through green-flag pit stops with about 48 laps to go in the race’s scheduled 134-lap distance.When the cycle completed, Larson was back out front, but he lost the top spot when the yellow flag waved for the third time in the race with about 30 laps to go.
Johnny Sauter got off pit road first by taking only two tires. When the race went back to green, Busch moved into the lead by getting by Sauter while Larson lost several spots.
Larson then began his move back toward the front. With three laps to go, Larson was racing the No. 3 of championship contender Ty Dillon when their two trucks made contact, sending Dillon into the wall, just as he had moved to within one point of points leader James Buescher, as they ran on the race track.
“It’s tough that I got into a point contender there, but I’m racing for a win, too,” Larson said of the incident. “I don’t know if it was my fault. It was just hard racing.”
Dillon wound up finishing the race 25th and dropping to fourth in the season-ending points standings, losing third spot with which he entered the weekend to Coulter. Buescher claimed the series championship afdter finishing the race 13th.
“I hate it had to come down to us hitting the wall,” Dillon said.
The Larson-Dillon incident resulted in a red flag for track cleanup and a two-lap, green-white-checker sprint to the finish. Busch and Gale lined up on the front row for the two-lap dash to the win. The two raced side-by-side for the lead in the final laps, making contact several times. The finish was close enough that Gale didn’t know for sure that he’d won until his crew infomred him over the radio that he was the winner.
Brazilians Piquet. and Miguel Paludo finished fourth and fifth. Sauter was sixth, Kligerman was seventh, and Timothy Peters held on to finish second in points with an eighth-place race finish. Justin Lofton was ninth and Ross Chastain was 10th.
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