Timothy Peters survives wild day to win ‘Dega truck race
Timothy Peters used a last-lap shove from Tayler Malsam to power ahead of Ryan Blaney and win Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Malsam crossed the finish line second, followed by Spencer Gallagher, pole winner Tyler Reddick and Brad Keselowski Racing teammate Blaney.
Ultimately, it was Malsam’s push that gave Peters just what he needed to get out front, and then Peters did everything within his power to stay there with the field breathing down his neck on the final half a lap.
"He definitely gave us a really good push, and I can’t thank him enough," Peters said. "You never expect (a push), but he’s wanting to win and get the best finish possible that he can, too. Ryan was side-drafting as much as he could. You never know. You try to make your Tundra as wide as you can, and it paid off today."
Peters scored his eighth career truck win, first at Talladega and first of the season by holding off the field in a green-white-checkered finish set up when Norm Benning’s truck slowed on the backstretch with four laps to go.
After pushing Peters into the lead, Malsam tried to mount a charge on the final lap, but couldn’t muster up the momentum.
"I was committed to the 17 (Peters), Malsam said. "I was going to push him as far as I could and hope to get a good run on the frontstretch."
Blaney tied with Peters for most laps led on the day with 31 but was forced to serve a pass-through penalty with 47 laps to go after getting caught speeding while entering pit road.
Falling off the lead lap, the third-generation driver returned to the lead lap 10 laps later courtesy of the free pass when the caution waved for Milka Duno’s slowing truck.
From there, Blaney began moving back to the front, and when the time came for the final restart, he was on the front row alongside Peters.
VIDEO: Camping World Truck Series points leader Matt Crafton is hit on pit road
"I thought we were going to have a great shot at the win coming off Turn 2 with Erik Jones pushing me there," Blaney said. "We had a great truck and I made a mistake early speeding on pit road, and we got back up there fast. Not a bad day for us."
Reddick also overcame his share of adversity, having been penalized twice for speeding while entering pit road.
"The driver just made a lot of dumb decisions and mistakes on pit road," Reddick said. "Fourth-place ain’t bad, considering everything that went wrong."
As is typical of races at Talladega, there was no shortage of excitement, wild wrecks and disappointed drivers.
After 10 laps of uninterrupted green-flag racing at the start, trouble erupted on Lap 11 with a multi-vehicle wreck set in motion when German Quiroga bounced off Erik Jones and came down the track right in the middle of the pack, collecting four-time series champion Ron Hornaday, Mason Mingus and Ryan Sieg.
Mingus got the worst of it, his truck careening off the wall and both its front wheels coming off the ground before the vehicle came a stop.
Under the ensuing caution, points leader and reigning series champion Matt Crafton suffered a major setback when his No. 88 Toyota incurred significant right-front damage from a collision with Bryan Silas while trying to exit the pits.
Crafton made three additional pit stops under the yellow to repair the damage and remained on the lead lap, but never fully recovered. He was later hit with a pass-through penalty for push drafting.
VIDEO: Ben Kennedy wrecks into wall hard at Talladega
Johnny Sauter — Crafton’s Thorsport Racing teammate who entered Talladega second in the standings and 19 points out of the lead — endured an even rougher outing.
Looking to possibly capitalize on his teammate’s misfortune, Sauter slowed on Lap 25 as smoke billowed out the back of the No. 98 Toyota.
The culprit — a blown engine — left with Sauter with a 31-place finish and his first engine-related DNF since Kentucky Speedway in 2011.
"It didn’t feel like it blew up," Sauter said. "Whatever. The championship’s over and from here on out we can just race like hell."
Crafton leaves Talladega with a 16-point lead over Blaney, who moved into second place in the standings with Sauter’s misfortune.
Darrell Wallace Jr. is third, 28 points out of first, with Sauter 36 points back in fourth. Peters is now fifth, 77 points behind Crafton.
Ben Kennedy, the great-grandson of NASCAR founder William H.G. "Big Bill" France and nephew of NASCAR chairman Brian France, looked to be headed for a solid finish when Joe Nemechek’s truck broke loose coming to the start/finish line with 29 laps to go. After slamming the wall hard on the driver’s side, both of Kennedy’s right-side wheels came completely off the ground before the truck came to rest on all four wheels.
Nemechek took the blame for the wreck while Kennedy, a series rookie, was uninjured but disappointed.
"It’s just a bummer," he said. "I don’t know. I really don’t have much to say."
Four races remain on the 2014 Camping World Truck Series schedule, and all four will air live on FOX Sports 1.
VIDEO: German Quiroga triggers five-truck wreck early at Talladega