ThorSport Racing’s Matt Crafton capped a double-header day, surviving a number of late-race restarts to win his fourth career Camping World Truck Series race and first at Martinsville Speedway.
"I didn’t think we were going to get it there on those first two runs," Crafton said. "That’s just the way these guys never give up. We made a track bar adjustment, another track bar adjustment, air pressure adjustment, and then we finally got that thing going."
Crafton’s journey to victory lane was not without it’s tense moments, however. A number of late-race cautions stacked the field up multiple times, giving the competition many opportunities to not only get around Crafton, but to possibly use the bump-and-run to get by. Luckily, for Crafton, he was able to pull away and let the chaos work itself out behind him.
"Those guys raced me clean," the defending series champion said. "Peters was back there at the end, Bubba (Darrell Wallace Jr.) was back there and could have moved me, but I can’t thank every one of these guys enough."
Wallace Jr. brought the No. 54 Toyota home second, followed by rookie Ben Kennedy in third, Johnny Sauter in fourth, and Ryan Blaney rounding out the top 5.
While Timothy Peters was the class of the field for much of the day, the handling of his No. 17 Red Horse Racing Toyota went away in the closing laps. With Peters slipping, Crafton was able to capitalize with 38 laps to go and take the top spot with Wallace Jr. in hot pursuit.
As the laps clicked away and the tension heated up, tempers ran short and sheet metal was bent. In typical short-track fashion, beating and banging led to tempers on the track.
A caution for debris stacked the field up for a restart on Lap 232. While Crafton and Peters looked to battle it out for the lead, the No. 77 of German Quiroga got into the back of Ron Hornaday’s No. 30 Chevrolet. The incident ruined a promising run for Hornaday, but also brought about another late-race restart.
Taking the green flag on Lap 237, the action picked back up with plenty of action throughout the field. With only seven laps left until the scheduled end of the race, Gray Gaulding was spun off Turn 2 by fellow youngster Cole Custer. The pair have a feud brewing from the NASCAR K&N Series, and neither driver gave an inch.
While Gaulding’s strong run was ruined, he would go on to finish 19th, the incident set up the first attempt at a green-white-checkered restart.
Taking the green flag, Crafton was able to pull ahead of Peters for the lead. Behind them, Erik Jones’ No. 51 Toyota was turned by the No. 98 Toyota of Johnny Sauter to bring out yet another caution. Since Crafton had yet to take the white flag, NASCAR lined the field up again for the second attempt at a green-white-checkered restart.
On the final restart of the day, Crafton was once again able to jump out to the lead as Wallace Jr. took the second spot from Peters. Pushed to the high side, Peters’ No. 17 was shoved into the outside wall by his teammate Quiroga. The No. 77 of Quiroga came down the track and got into John Wes Townley’s No. 5 Toyota, sending it hard into the inside wall.
Missing out on a win in front of his hometown crowd, Peters was not happy with his Red Horse Racing teammate and showed his displeasure after the race.
The teammates will have plenty of time to work out their issues, as the next Camping World Truck Series race is scheduled for May 9 at Kansas Speedway.