NCWTS: Matt Crafton Tames the Monster Mile

Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Matt Crafton grabbed the checkered flag for the 12th time of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career, and won his first race at Dover International Speedway.

The win didn’t come easy for the California native, who had to fight off a hungry Daniel Suarez, but Suarez would come up short and finish second for the fourth time in his Truck Series career.

Qualifying was cancelled for this afternoon’s race, so the field was set by practice speeds, which allowed William Byron to lead the field to the green alongside Brandon Jones. Byron’s momentum was on the upswing following a third-place finish at Martinsville, and his first career win at Kansas last Friday.

Byron led the first 80 laps of the race before a caution came out for CJ Faison’s slowing truck. Byron led most of the field down pit road, except for the No. 05 of John Wes Townley. Townley decided to stay out in hopes of gaining track position, and clean air on the restart. The Brad Keselowski Racing trucks of Tyler Reddick and Daniel Hemric’s two-tire call had them beat Crafton and Byron off the pit lane.

Townley quickly surrendered the lead to Reddick on the restart, and began to fall back. Reddick, on the other hand, held on to the lead with only two fresh right-side tires for 39 laps before Crafton muscled his way around the defending race winner.

Despite being quicker than Crafton and getting a few restarts to try and work his way around the No. 88, Daniel Suarez couldn’t find complete the pass on Crafton, who was hugging the inside yellow line. This forced Suarez to try and make the move around him on the outside, but it couldn’t be done, and Crafton would hold on for the win.

For Crafton, the win came at a track he thought he would never win at.

“It’s awesome,” Crafton said in victory lane. “I’ve always wanted Miles. We’ve come close – we’ve gotten second – we’ve had very fast trucks. This Menard’s Toyota Tundra was very, very good today.”

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride – Daniel Suarez finished second for the fourth time in his Truck Series career, and sixth overall in NASCAR’s top-three series. The Monterrey, Mexico driver has been knocking on the door of his first win, but just can’t seem to get there.

“I was trying to drive the wheels off of this thing to try to complete the pass,” Suarez said after the race. “I feel like we were a little faster than the 88, but clean air is a big difference here.”

Suarez’s Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Christopher Bell finished third followed by Daytona winner Johnny Sauter and Cole Custer who was penalized early in the race for a restart violation.

Spencer Gallagher tied his best finish of the season in sixth, while Tyler Reddick, Ryan Truex, Daniel Hemric and Kaz Grala finished out the top-10. For Reddick, it was his first top-10 of the year, and Grala scored the first top-10 of his career in only his second start.

William Byron finished 11th after a pit road penalty late on the race on his final pit stop. The 18-year-old led the first 80 laps of the race, but would come up short in the end.

Crafton’s win supposedly locks him into the eight-driver Chase new to the Trucks this year, but three other drivers eligible for Truck Series points have also won this year, so his win today might not make him a lock for the Chase quite yet.

About Tyson Lautenschlager 552 Articles
A 22-year-old from Ontario, Canada, Tyson Lautenschlager is a Humber College journalism graduate. He is currently the managing editor of OnPitRoad and a chase producer at CTV News Channel in Toronto.