Matt Crafton, who has won NASCAR’s last two Truck Series championships, bulled his way into contention for No. 3 Saturday with a victory in the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway.
Crafton led 63 laps to beat Mooresville’s John Hunter Nemehek to the checkered flag. It was the fifth victory of the season for Crafton, who went from third to second to second in the standings, 10 points beind leader Erik Jones.
There were 12 cautions for 69 laps in a race that had three rookies – Nemechek, Cameron Hayley (third) and Brandon Jones (seventh) finish in the top 10.
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Cole Custer, who led a race-high 96 laps, incurred a speeding penalty on pit road on Lap 126. That took him to the rear of the field and out of contention, helping Crafton to the front.
Three who mattered
Matt Crafton: Two-time Truck champion wins fifth race of the season, moves to within 10 points of lead.
Erik Jones: Points leader wasn’t much of a factor after starting fourth. Sees lead in standings shrink by eight points to 10 over Crafton.
John Hunter Nemechek: Mooresville driver – and recent Davidson Day grad – finishes second. Might have done better but faulty restart late in the race cost him.
▪ Tough luck for Custer, 16, who might have had the strongest car in the field. He started from the pole and led for nearly half the race until that mistake on pit road cost him.
▪ Nemechek and Hayley had a few run-ins, with Hayley warning Nemechek he can expect payback soon. Nemechek said after the race he wasn’t worried about that.
▪ Ross Kenseth, son of Cup driver Matt Kenseth, finished 17th in his Truck series debut. Austin Cindric, who replaced Austin Theriault in Brad Keselowski’s truck, was 25th in his series debut.
They said it
“I felt like we should have won the last two races. We finally finished one off.” – Crafton.
Where: Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Texas
When: 8:30 p.m., Friday
TV: Fox Sports One
Radio: Motor Racing Network