Matt Crafton pulls away, wins Truck Series race at Atlanta

2 Comments

Back-to-back defending Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton chalked up a convincing victory tonight at Atlanta Motor Speedway, leading a race-high 85 laps to win the Hyundai Construction Equipment 200.

Crafton quickly moved from 15th on the grid and took the lead from Erik Jones at Lap 45 of 130. From there on, the ThorSport Racing driver dominated to claim his sixth career Truck Series triumph, his fourth on a 1.5-mile oval (Charlotte 2008, Kansas 2013, Texas-1 2014), and his first Atlanta win in his 14th start there.

“I was really, really disappointed in qualifying, but we didn’t have a whole lot of single lap speed by itself,” Crafton told Fox Sports 1 in Victory Lane. “But I knew once they dropped the green and this thing took off – I ran three laps and said, ‘We’ve got something for these boys, they’re in trouble today.'”

Ty Dillon followed up his third-place Xfinity Series effort earlier on Saturday with a second-place finish in the Truck race. Pole sitter Ben Kennedy only led the first lap, but turned in a solid third-place finish to bounce back from a crash in last weekend’s season opener at Daytona.

Daniel Suarez collected a second consecutive Top-10 finish in the Trucks with a run to fourth place, while Tyler Reddick came home fifth to retain his Truck Series championship lead by two points over Crafton.

Erik Jones led 37 laps tonight, but slid through his pit stall not once but twice during stops and finished an unrepresentative seventh. Also having a rough night was Sprint Cup star Brad Keselowski, who finished one lap down in 15th. Keselowski was penalized in the pits early on (driving through too many stalls) and was two laps down at one point in the race.

The Trucks now take a one-month break before returning to action on March 28 at the half-mile Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Atlanta
Unofficial Results

1. Matt Crafton … 130 laps … Running
2. Ty Dillon … 130 laps … Running
3. Ben Kennedy … 130 laps … Running
4. Daniel Suarez … 130 laps … Running
5. Tyler Reddick … 130 laps … Running
6. Johnny Sauter … 130 laps … Running
7. Erik Jones … 130 laps … Running
8. James Buescher … 129 laps … Running
9. Timothy Peters … 129 laps … Running
10. Joe Nemechek … 129 laps … Running
11. Ryan Sieg … 129 laps … Running
12. John Wes Townley … 129 laps … Running
13. Spencer Gallagher … 129 laps … Running
14. Cameron Hayley … 129 laps … Running
15. Brad Keselowski … 129 laps … Running
16. Justin Boston … 129 laps … Running
17. Caleb Holman … 127 laps … Running
18. Garrett Smithley … 126 laps … Running
19. Daniel Hemric … 126 laps … Running
20. Korbin Forrister … 125 laps … Running
21. Bryan Silas … 123 laps … Running
22. Tyler Young … 123 laps … Running
23. Jordan Anderson … 123 laps … Running
24. Wendell Chavous … 120 laps … Running
25. Ray Black Jr. … 119 laps … Running
26. Jennifer Jo Cobb … 118 laps … Running
27. Morgan Shepherd … 118 laps … Running
28. Mason Mingus … 110 laps … Accident
29. Brandon Brown … 91 laps … Oil Line
30. Cody Ware … 48 laps … Accident
31. Norm Benning … 12 laps … Rear Gear

Time of race: One hour, 25 minutes, 22 seconds
Margin of victory: 8.752 seconds
Average speed: 140.711 mph
Cautions: Three for 13 laps
Lead Changes: Six among 5 drivers
Laps Led: Crafton 85, Jones 37, Keselowski 6, Kennedy 1, Suarez 1.