Crafton Delivers Texas-Sized Beatdown
FORT WORTH, Texas – Matt Crafton put on a dominant performance to capture the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino and Resort 400 Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway.
Crafton was the class of the field Friday night at the 1.5-mile oval, but a caution flag on lap 104 set up a long run to the finish that brought fuel mileage into play. The entire field pitted for tires and fuel under the caution period, with Crafton getting off pit road first ahead of Ryan Blaney and Ron Hornaday Jr.
The field returned to racing on lap 110 and Hornaday made an impressive three-wide move on the inside down the backstretch to sneak by both Crafton and Blaney to take the race lead.
“Hornaday, he never ceases to amaze me,” Crafton said. “I thought, ‘I think I can get by the 29 (Blaney),’ then I heard three wide and I looked down and it was that black and red truck of Hornaday.”
Hornaday didn’t keep the lead for long as Crafton moved back by in turn three two laps later to reclaim the top spot. Once out front Crafton checked out from Hornaday and company, but as the laps clicked off it became obvious that most teams would need a splash of gas in order to make it to the checkered flag. Crafton, with a sizeable advantage, was told by his crew to slow down considerably with about 15 laps left in order to save fuel.
The first truck to pit was Erik Jones, who came down pit road with 12 laps left. Soon others followed, with third-place Blaney pitting with nine to go and second-place Hornaday following a lap later. Crafton, however, stayed on track and continued to slow his pace down in order to save fuel.
In the end the strategy worked out perfectly for Crafton, who cruised to the checkered flag 13.302 seconds ahead of his closest pursuer.
“My God, that is hard to just save when you have such a fast truck,” said Crafton, who led a career-high 118 laps Friday night. “These guys were just unbelievable. This Menards/Slim Jim Toyota Tundra was just really, really good. I could go anywhere I wanted to however I wanted to. The guys were just awesome on pit road tonight.”
The victory is Crafton’s second of the season. This is the first time in Crafton’s lengthy NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career that he has won two races in a single season.
Justin Lofton, making his second Truck Series start of the year for NTS Motorsports, started from the pole and was able to save enough fuel to finish the race in second position.
“Once I got out of the pit box Jeff (Hensley, crew chief) started saying save fuel, save fuel,” Lofton said. “That was exactly what we did. Shoot, the last 10 laps we were probably 50 percent throttle just running behind everyone I could.”
Joe Nemechek scored a third-place finish for his small underdog team. He was followed by Blaney in fourth and John Wes Townley in fifth.