Sunday, April 21, 2013

Crafton wins World Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway

Kansas Speedway saw yet another new winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as Matt Crafton became the 13th different winner in the 13th running of the SFP 250 Saturday.  The race marked the first time the trucks had run on the new surface since the track was repaved in 2012.

Crafton, who leads all active Truck Series drivers in both races and laps run at Kansas Speedway, attributed his first win here, which is also his first win since Iowa in 2011 and his fifth top 10 finish at the track, to teamwork and the “wholesale change” the team made between yesterday’s practice and today’s race.

“Just believing in each other, and like I said, making all the right changes,” Crafton said. “I have more starts here, but this is the first time that I’ve raced on this asphalt.  And this is definitely a different Kansas than it has been in the past for sure.”

Crafton said, late in the race, his truck “stuck” in the higher groove during the 25-lap green flag run to the end, and he felt comfortable racing around Joey Coulter for the lead in the closing laps.

“About half-way through the race, people started moving up, and you started getting the second groove,” Crafton said.  “It wasn’t easy to run side-by-side, but you could run somewhat side-by-side.  That’s what was really cool about it.”    

Coulter finished second, giving him his second top 10 finish in three races at Kansas Speedway.

“I was thinking, it was going to work out a little bit better,” said Coulter, about finishing second to Crafton.  “These trucks, they punch such a big hole in the air that sometimes being a little bit farther back is a better place to be with a couple laps to go.  It kind of just ended up being the same thing—I could get to him, but that five feet that I needed to get next to him, it was hard to get.  I felt like both of our trucks were really good.  I was a little bit tight behind him, but overall was just real happy with where we ended up.  It was a good points day for us.”

Coulter called the repave one of the “smoothest” he’s raced on, making for “fun” and “fast” racing.

“The new pavement, there’s so much grip,” Coulter.  “You can race anywhere on the racetrack. You’re fighting for inches on the racetrack.”

Ryan Blaney finished third, making him the highest finishing rookie in his first start at Kansas Speedway. Blaney emphasized the importance of starting toward the front.  

“We had a good truck all day,” Blaney said.  “It was just really all about track position.  If you could start within the first six or seven, then you just hoped your line moved, whichever line you were in. It was a track position race, and it really widened out there at the end.”

The race saw 11 cautions for 52 laps, and an incident involving Todd Bodine, Bryan Silas and Brennan Newberry brought out the red flag for just under 13 minutes.

Despite cautions, the drivers swapped the lead for a record-setting day.  The race had 10 different leaders, tying the series record at the track, and 18 lead changes, which set a new series record for the track.

Crafton moved up a position in points and now trails Johnny Sauter, the current points leader, by 12 point in the 2013 standings.  Sauter finished fifth in today’s race, and the two drivers have won three of the season’s four races between them.

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