Matt Crafton wins wreck-shortened race after Ben Kennedy’s truck slams catch fence at Kentucky


Matt Crafton was declared the winner of Thursday night’s UNOH 225 Camping World Truck Series race after NASCAR officials called the race five laps early due to a wreck involving fellow driver Ben Kennedy that damaged the catch fencing at Kentucky Speedway.

Kennedy, great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., and son of International Speedway Corp. CEO Lesa France Kennedy, was jockeying for position when he made contact with the trucks of David Gilliland and John Wes Townley.

Kennedy bounced off both trucks and hit the wall head-on, then climbed the retaining wall and SAFER barrier, slid along the top of it for several hundred feet and almost flipped before returning to the racing surface and finally coming to a stop.

The catch fence suffered significant damage. With an Xfinity Series scheduled for Friday and the Sprint Cup Series race on Saturday – coupled with the expected length of time it would have taken to repair the damage – NASCAR officials called the race five laps from its scheduled 150-lap length.

This is the second race in five nights where the catch fence prevented a vehicle from going into the stands. Austin Dillon’s car went airborne in Sunday night’s race at Daytona and heavily damaged the catch fencing on the final lap of the Coke Zero 400.

It was Crafton’s fourth win of the season and ninth of his career.

Erik Jones finished second, followed by Ryan Blaney, Daniel Suarez and Timothy Peters.

MORE: Results from UNOH 225 Camping World Truck Series race at Kentucky

MORE: Matt Crafton remains atop Camping World Truck Series standings after Kentucky

How Crafton won: On the final restart of the race on Lap 140, Erik Jones had the lead, but Crafton got a tremendous push from behind by Ryan Blaney that allowed Crafton to pull ahead of Jones and stayed there. “I have to thank Ryan Blaney,” Crafton said. “He was all about that restart. I know we had the best truck when we got track position. This truck was really, really good. That push was pretty amazing that Blaney gave me, without a doubt.”

Who else had a good race: Erik Jones was hoping to take the same truck he won with last month at Iowa to victory lane at Kentucky, but couldn’t keep Matt Crafton from getting past him on the final restart. Jones led the most laps (55), while Crafton led 44. … Had the Ben Kennedy wreck not occurred, third-place finisher Blaney might have been able to challenge Crafton in the closing laps. … Once again, Daniel Suarez came close to his first NASCAR win, but he couldn’t make up enough ground on the final restart to mount a challenge to Crafton.

Who had a bad race: In only his second career Truck race, Christopher Bell was running in the top 10 before losing it and wrecking with 18 laps left in the race. … The same thing happened to Spencer Gallagher, who wrecked with 10 laps remaining. … And then there was Kennedy and his wreck with five laps to go.

Notable: John Hunter Nemechek, who just turned 18 last month, made his first career start on a 1.5-mile track in any series and finished 11th. Nemechek ran an excellent race and was on-target to a potential top-five finish before he got into the wall with six laps to go that brought out the final caution. … The driver leading the race with 10 laps to go had won 15 of the last 17 races at Kentucky Speedway, but not this time, as Jones was passed by Crafton.

Quote of the day: “I’m fine. Thank the good Lord for keeping me safe and everything NASCAR does to keep these trucks safe. If I had a wreck this bad years ago, I don’t know if I would have gotten out of my truck on my own power like that.” – Ben Kennedy, who was uninjured after his wreck and ride along the retaining wall and into the catch fence.

What’s next: The Truck Series returns to the dirt at Eldora (Ohio) Speedway on July 22 for the 1-800-CARCASH Mud Summer Classic.

Follow @JerryBonkowski


COTA Xfinity starting lineup: AJ Allmendinger takes pole


AJ Allmendinger, who won this race a year ago, will start on the pole for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Circuit of the Americas.

Allmendinger earned the pole with a lap of 92.173 mph Friday on the 20-turn, 3.41-mile road course.

MORE: COTA Xfinity starting lineup

He will be joined on the front row Sammy Smith (91.827 mph).
Ty Gibbs (91.665) will start third. Sheldon Creed (91.652) qualified fourth. Parker Kligerman (91.195) will start fifth.

Cup driver William Byron will start ninth. Byron’s time was disallowed for cutting the esses. Cole Custer, who will start 10th, didn’t make a lap in the final round of qualifying.

Cup driver Aric Almirola (91.269) qualified 13th. Truck Series racer Carson Hocevar (90.669) will start 17th. Alex Labbe (90.476) will start 23rd. He’s filling in for Josh Williams, who is serving a one-race suspension for parking his car at the start/finish line of last weekend’s race at Atlanta.

COTA Truck starting lineup: Ross Chastain wins pole


Ross Chastain will start on the pole for Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas.

Chastain earned the top starting spot in Friday’s qualifying with a lap of 91.877 mph. He’ll be joined on the front row by Kyle Busch (91.490 mph).

More: COTA Truck starting lineup

Ty Majeski qualified third with a lap of 91.225 mph. Rookie Nick Sanchez (90.993) will start fourth, and Christian Eckes (90.937) will complete the top five.

Alex Bowman failed to make the race. Bowman had a flat right front on his qualifying lap.

Tyler Reddick leads Cup practice at COTA


Tyler Reddick posted the fastest lap in Friday’s Cup practice at Circuit of the Americas.

Reddick, who won two road course races last season, topped the field in his 23XI Racing Toyota with a lap of 92.989 mph. Kyle Larson was next, posting a lap of 92.618 mph around the 3.41-mile road course.

MORE: COTA Cup practice results

Ross Chastain, who won this race a year ago, was third on the speed chart in practice with a lap of 92.520 mph. He was followed by Kyle Busch (92.498 mph) and Daniel Suarez (92.461 mph).

Jordan Taylor, subbing for the injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports, was 10th on the speed chart in practice after a lap of 92.404 mph.

Former world champion Jenson Button, driving for Rick Ware Racing, was 28th in practice with a lap of 91.759 mph. Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen, driving the Project 91 car for Trackhouse Racing, was 32nd in practice after a lap of 91.413 mph.

Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, driving in his first race for Legacy Motor Club since the Daytona 500, was 36th in practice after a lap of 91.072 mph. IndyCar driver Conor Daly was last among the 39 cars in practice with a lap of 90.095 mph.

Cup qualifying is Saturday. The series races Sunday.


Saturday COTA Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather


Austin Hill, the dominant driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series through the early weeks of the season, will be looking for his first Xfinity road course win Saturday.

Hill has won three of the season’s first five races, scoring victories at Daytona, Las Vegas and Atlanta.

Hill has been close in previous road course runs. He has a second at COTA, a third at Portland, a fourth at Road America and a ninth at Indianapolis.

MORE: Dr. Diandra takes a look at top Cup road course drivers

Kyle Busch and AJ Allmendinger own wins in the previous Xfinity races at COTA.

Allmendinger and three other Cup Series regulars — Aric Almirola, William Byron and Ty Gibbs — are scheduled to race in the Xfinity event.

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Circuit of the Americas

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 5:08 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled at 5:19 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 2 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Jordan Thiessen of Pit Boss Grills at 5 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by recording artist Payton Keller at 5:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 46 laps (156 miles) on the 3.41-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 14. Stage 2 ends at Lap 30.

TV/RADIO: FS1 will broadcast the race at 5 p.m. … NASCAR RaceDay airs at 4 p.m. on FS1. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. and can be heard at …SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mainly sunny. Temperature of 82 at race time. No chance of rain.

LAST TIME: AJ Allmendinger won last March’s Xfinity race at COTA. Austin Hill was two seconds behind in second place. Cole Custer finished third.