Ryan Blaney wins at Bristol as Matt Crafton stumbles on late restart
Brad Keselowski Racing's Ryan Blaney earned his fourth-career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory in Wednesday night's UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway, but it certainly was not easy.
Things had been shaping up nicely for Blaney in the opening laps, as he jumped out to a large lead over the competition. However on the first restart of the night on Lap 39, Blaney got a great jump on the rest of the field. However, NASCAR issued the black flag to Blaney for jumping the restart, forcing to serve a pass-through penalty under green flag conditions.
The penalty dropped Blaney a lap down, but the Brad Keselowski Racing driver got the free pass on the second caution of the night. When the race restarted, Blaney charged his way through the field. When rain hit the track after 161 laps, Blaney had worked his way back to sixth.
After a 45-minute and 50-second red flag for rain, Matt Crafton was able to clear Brandon Jones on the restart with 25 laps to take the lead and drive away from the field.
As Crafton held onto the lead, Blaney's No. 29 Ford came to life as he worked his way to the front from the sixth spot. Blaney was able to clear John Hunter Nemechek for the second spot with six laps to go and was closing in on Crafton's back bumper when Ty Dillon spun to bring out the caution with four laps to go.
The incident set up the lone green-white-checkered restart with Crafton to the outside and Blaney to the inside. When the green flag flew, Blaney got a great jump as Crafton's truck slowed and dropped through the field out of fuel.
Driving away, Blaney was able to score his first Camping World Truck Series victory at Bristol, overcoming adversity throughout the event. The victory also came in Blaney's final start of the season in the No. 29 truck.
Kyle Busch finished second, followed by John Hunter Nemechek, Daniel Hemric and Brandon Jones.
After running out of fuel on the final restart, Crafton crossed the line seventh.
When Blaney was forced to pit road for the pass-through penalty on Lap 43, Cole Custer took the top spot in his No. 00 Chevrolet. Holding off charges from veterans such as Crafton and Busch, Custer was in command of the race and clicking off laps.
By Lap 160, the battle for the lead was heating up and in a moment's notice it all came to an end, for more reason than one.
Battling for the top spot on Lap 161, Cole Custer was racing on the high side of Crafton behind a string of slower trucks when Spencer Gallagher's No. 23 spun up ahead. While Crafton was able to sneak by on the bottom to take the lead, Custer had nowhere to go and drove hard into Gallagher.
Sustaining damage to the right front, Custer brought the truck to pit road under caution for repairs. As the team made repairs to the No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet, heavy rains hit the track.
Custer had the dominant truck on the night, starting in the fifth spot and taking the lead for the first time on Lap 38 when outside pole sitter Ryan Blaney was forced to pit road under green. Before the incident with Gallagher, Custer had led a 111 of the 166 laps completed.
When the checkered flag flew, Custer was 16th on the leaderboard.
With nine races left in the 2015 season, the points battle continues to tighten up with Tyler Reddick leading Crafton by only six points. Kyle Busch Motorsports' Erik Jones sits third, just seven points out of the lead.