Crafton Ends Drought with Victory at Eldora

Crafton Earns First Career Dirt Victory at Eldora

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Matt Crafton was able to take the lead from Stewart Friesen late in the race to secure his first victory of the season and first victory since Charlotte last season. Crafton wasn’t by far the dominant truck but found what worked late in the going and was able to earn his first victory on dirt.

“My first dirt win – a lot of fun,” Crafton told Fox after the race. “In the second part of that race we down-right just stunk. It was my fault. We over-tightened it a little bit in the first run. It got free and we just went back to the way we started the race. I knew I was getting beat down low. Finally at the end, I said, ‘Well, we may have to tear the right- side off to get the win.’ I started doing it and this truck became a rocket ship.”

Friessen dominated the race after starting from the pole, Crafton started second to Friesen after winning Heat No. 2. Friesen dominated leading 93 of the races 150 laps, He lost the lead with 17 laps to go and had to battle with Chase Briscoe to earn his career best second place finish. Grant Enfinger finished fourth while John Hunter Nemechek continued his strong season with a fifth place finish.

“Congrats to Matt, he’s been doing his homework on the dirt and it paid off,” said Friesen. “We didn’t come here to run second that’s for damn sure, but I’m proud of these guys they worked hard to get this truck dialed in. We had a great truck, he just got rolling on the top, it cleaned up, I was so committed to the bottom and go there in the middle and he just found a line and got us. It burns.”

Race Recap 

Friesen led the field to green with Crafton not far behind. Friesen would set sail and look to be the dominant truck of the night with not many people stepping up to the dirt ringer.

Sheldon Creed spun on Lap 19, Ben Rhodes came sliding into the No. 20 which then triggered a multi-truck crash involving Johnny Sauter, Harrison Burton, Bobby Pierce, Norm Benning, and Rico Abreu along with a few others. That caution would be merged with the competition caution that was planned at lap 20 to allow officials to check on the condition of the track. Track conditions were quite muddy when the race began which caused the issues that many drivers further back pitted to relieve.

Christopher Bell, a former race winner in this event, appeared to have  his run for a second victory at Eldora come to an end at Lap 35 when he spun on his own. As Bell came back down the track, Kaz Grala couldn’t stop and he plowed into the right side of the No. 4 JBL Toyota Tundra causing significant damage. Grala’s night would be over early which would be a huge disappointment after running inside the Top-10 all day long.

Crafton was able to pull off the first stage victory of the evening. Friesen would finish second while John H. Nemechek finished third, with Briscoe and Ty Dillon rounding out the top-five.

Creed made contact with Ray Ciccarelli which caused the No. 10 of Ciccarelli to spin causing a caution at lap 85. This bunched up the field for one last restart for the conclusion of stage two.

Friesen was able to hold off a hard charging Ty Dillon in a one-lap shootout to collect the first stage victory of his career. Nemechek finished third, Bell came back from his wreck in stage 1 to finish fourth, and Austin Cindric rounded out the Top-10. A flat tire forced Friesen to start the final stage from the back but it wouldn’t phase the driver, who worked his way up through the field.

Surprisingly Rudy Fugle and the boys got Christopher Bell’s truck in the lead to start the final stage. Without a doubt one of the best performances we’ve seen in the NCWTS this season, Bell would go on to lead 21 laps before Friesen made his move back into the front spot. The caution would come out at lap 120 for Dillon who was slow on the track, Friesen would restart as the race leader.

The race would be slowed by two more cautions involving the No. 10 of Ciccarelli but Friesen wouldn’t lose the lead until lap 134 which would tally the eighth lead change of the night and it would be the final as Crafton set sail to earn his 14th career victory in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

With the eleventh race of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the books, the series heads to Pocono for the Overton’s 150. With the victory, Crafton punches his ticket to the playoffs joining Christopher Bell, Nemechek, Johnny Sauter, and Kaz Grala. With five races remaining until the cut off for the playoffs, Briscoe is the only driver who is has a substantial lead, but still doesn’t sit comfortable while drivers like Enfinger, Rhodes, Truex, Gragson, Cindric, and Haley all really need victories in the next five races.

 

About Christian Koelle 229 Articles
An Ooltewah, TN native, Christian has been writing since July of 2015. In 2017, Christian transitioned from his own blog to a few different websites, joining OnPitRoad in February. In 2005 Christian attended his first race as a fan at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. He’s been around racing his entire life and enjoys being at the track more than anything. He made his media debut at Bristol in 2015. His favorite tracks are Iowa Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway and Phoenix. He enjoys talking about racing with just about anyone and makes occasional appearances on numerous radio shows across the country. In his time attending races he’s attended almost ninety races among the six racing series. Along with NASCAR, He loves Minor and Major League Baseball. He’s a Minnesota Twins and Chattanooga Lookouts. He also enjoys watching Iowa State Cyclones college football.