Matt Crafton made personal and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series history on Friday night with his dominating performance and win at Texas Motor Speedway in the WinStar World Casino and Resort 400. It was his second win of the season, marking his first year of Truck Series competition with multiple wins.
Crafton’s 118 laps led were the most he’d led in any previous truck race and dwarfed the total number he’d led in all of his previous starts at TMS, combined (46). Also, his win margin of 13.302 seconds over race runner-up Justin Lofton was the largest in Camping World Truck Series history at Texas Motor Speedway.
“I really thought we’d have a caution (late in the race) the way everyone was slipping and sliding,” Lofton said. “We were too far on track position to contend with Matt.”
With the win, Crafton reassumed the championship points lead he lost to Timothy Peters the previous week at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Heading into Texas, Crafton was tied with teammate Johnny Sauter for second, one point behind Peters.
But, unlike Crafton, Peters had problems on his Texas visit. A tire issue early in the race put him off the pace and sent him down pit road, putting him multiple laps down. Later on, he slipped in fluid put down by the blown engine of his Red Horse Racing teammate, German Quiroga. As a result, Peters wrecked and retired from the race.
Although Crafton was a dominant force, running up front throughout the race, he and his No. 88 ThorSport Racing team rolled the dice on fuel mileage late in the race, opting to run the final 58 green-flag laps on a single tank of fuel while many others headed for pit road in the final 20 laps. In fuel conservation mode, Crafton ran well off the pace in the closing laps, but saved enough fuel to get to the end, running out of gas while doing a celebratory burnout.
“I didn’t know we were as close as we were,” Crafton said. “That’s one of the hardest things to do — trying to tell a race car driver to slow down.”
A few other drivers also gambled on fuel and stayed out for top-five finishes. Second-place finisher Lofton was among them. Joe Nemechek and John Wes Townley also stayed out and finished third and fifth. Fourth-place finisher Ryan Blaney was the highest finisher among those who pitted under green late in the race.
“We made a good call (to stay out),” Nemechek said. “We knew when that last caution came out, we were close on fuel.”
Ron Hornaday finished sixth, Sauter was seventh, Bryan Silas finished eighth, Joey Coulter ninth, and Darrell Wallace Jr. rounded out the top-10.