Matt Crafton Returns to Victory Lane With Kansas Truck Win

(KANSAS CITY, KS - JULY 25, 2020 - RIS) Matt Crafton, defending NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series champion, returned to Victory Lane today after a three-year absence, winning the e.p.t. 200 race over rookie Christian Eckes.

Ty Majeski got into Ankrum early in the race, bashing in the left front fender on Majeski's truck, then to add insult to the injury, the first jack across the wall didn't work, sending the jack man back for a replacement.

Christian Eckes had the lead until lap seven, when Zane Smith moved into the lead. An errant black plastic bag caught on Eckes' hood pin, flapping in the wind until it ripped off.

Travis Pastrana, in his return to the truck series, had a cut right rear tire, dropping the X-Games champion to last in the field going into the end of the first stage. Zane Smith led Brett Moffitt to the green and white checkered flag by nearly a second to take his second stage 'win' of the 2020 season. On pit road, Austin Hill and Ben Rhodes both took only two tires, with Rhodes first out. Matt Crafton and Zane Smith were the next pair to the restart with Hill edging out Rhodes for the lead as second through fourth raced side by side for second place, letting Hill move ahead until Smith grabbed the lead from last night's winner.

Bryan Dauzat's solo spin brought out the first caution of the race, followed some laps later by the end of stage two with Smith at the front when the green and white checkered flag flew.

Travis Pastrana spun on the front straight a dozen laps into the final stage led to a restart spin by Cory Roper and Derek Kraus on the back straight as Kraus got loose and Roper spun in avoidance.

Another restart multi-truck crash saw the red flag displayed for cleanup, with Sauter, Majeski, Decker, Rohrbaugh, Cobb, Greenfield, Creed and Gray all involved in one way or another. The crashing started when Tanner Gray pushed Clay Greenfield at the entry to Turn One in a crowded pack. 

Just forty laps from the end saw a pair of GMS trucks crash, with Tyler Ankrum ending against the outside wall after Zane Smith tapped Brett Moffitt with Moffitt collecting Ankrum.

At the restart, with 32 laps left, Austin Hill took the lead away from Sheldon Creed, with Creed sweeping around Hill but ran out of traction and hit the outside wall just before Raphael Lessard's shredding left rear tire and spin caused still another caution.

Crafton and Hill led the pack with Crafton dropping behind Hillas Sheldon Creed's truck tapped the fourth turn wall, the bed cover panel popped loose and caused a further caution. 

At the restart, Eckes gave Crafton a push into the lead ahead of Austin Hill but Derek Kraus moved around Hill shortly, with Hill's truck seemingly not as good as earlier in the race as Grant Enfinger also passed , dropping Hill to fifth, then Ben Rhodes moved around Hill to take fifth place ahead of last night's winner.

The final laps of the race came down to a case of 'age and treachery vs. youth and exuberance' as the three-time champion Crafton worked to stay ahead of Christian Eckes with Crafton holding off the rookie challenger by 

"It was very very sweet" said Crafton after taking the checkered flag from an official at Start/Finish after the race.

"I won't sugar coat it, we were absolutely terrible yesterday," said Eckes. "13th is not representative of how good this team is or how good I am. We talked a lot about it last night. Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) made some really good changes. We started okay today. We weren't perfect yet and that last run, actually after that pit stop, we got pretty good. I just got a little bit tight, which was the opposite of what we were fighting all day. Definitely feels good. Obviously, I wish we could have won there and I have a little bit of work to do to get through traffic. Struggled with the same thing last week. Have a little work to do, but at the same time, really proud of my team to rebound the way we did."

"Today was a dogfight for us, to say the least," commented Friday winner Austin Hill. "We started off way, way too loose. I could not attack my entry and center off. I was so loose; I could not touch the throttle.

"Every caution we threw everything we can at it to tighten this truck up. We got it better throughout each run. We just kept slowly working at it, and we made some big enough adjustments that on the short run we could really fire off good, get some track position."

Unofficial Results, e.p.t. 200 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Race, Kansas Speedway

Fin, Str, Driver, Truck, Laps, St1, St2, Tms Led, Laps Led, Playoff Pts, Pts, Status
1) 12, Matt Crafton, No. 88 Ford, 134, 3, 2, 2, 23, 5, 57, Running
2) 3, Christian Eckes #, No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Toyota, 134, 4, 9, 1, 6, , 44, Running
3) 13, Grant Enfinger, No. 98 Farm Paint Curb Records Ford, 134, , , , , , 34, Running
4) 18, Tanner Gray #, No. 15 Ford/Ford Performance Ford, 134, , , 1, 3, , 33, Running
5) 9, Ben Rhodes, No. 99 Tenda Heal Ford, 134, , , 1, 1, , 32, Running
6) 15, Austin Hill, No. 16 United Rentals Toyota, 134, , 7, 3, 19, , 35, Running
7) 11, Derek Kraus #, No. 19 ENEOS Toyota, 134, 10, 5, , , , 37, Running
8) 2, Brandon Jones(i), No. 51 Delta Faucet/Menards Toyota, 134, 5, , , , , 0, Running
9) 10, Zane Smith #, No. 21 MRC Construction Chevrolet, 134, 1, 1, 2, 50, 2, 48, Running
10) 1, Chase Purdy, No. 24 BAMABUGGIES.com Chevrolet, 134, 7, 8, , , , 34, Running
11) 16, Raphael Lessard #, No. 4 Mobil 1 Toyota, 134, 9, , , , , 28, Running
12) 4, Brennan Poole(i), No. 30 RememberEveryoneDeployed.org Toyota, 134, 6, , , , , 0, Running
13) 17, Austin Wayne Self, No. 22 GO TEXAN/AM Technical Solutions Chevrolet, 134, , , , , , 24, Running
14) 29, Spencer Davis #, No. 11 Polar Bear Coolers Toyota, 134, , , , , , 23, Running
15) 30, Jordan Anderson, No. 3 Bommarito.com/BG Services Chevrolet, 134, , , , , , 22, Running
16) 19, Tyler Hill, No. 56 Hill Motorsports Chevrolet, 134, , , , , , 21, Running
17) 22, Tate Fogleman #, No. 02 Solid Rock Carriers Chevrolet, 134, , , , , , 20, Running
18) 23, Spencer Boyd, No. 20 Steelesafe Shelters Chevrolet, 134, , , , , , 19, Running
19) 25, Ryan Huff, No. 00 556 Body Ops Toyota, 133, , , , , , 18, Running
20) 6, Todd Gilliland, No. 38 Speedco Ford, 133, 8, 10, , , , 21, Running
21) 26, Robby Lyons II(i), No. 97 Sunwest Construction Chevrolet, 133, , , , , , 0, Running
22) 34, Travis Pastrana, No. 40 Plan B Sales Chevrolet, 132, , , , , , 15, Running
23) 37, Kevin Donahue, No. 33 First Responder Racing Toyota, 130, , , , , , 14, Running
24) 32, Ray Ciccarelli, No. 49 CMI Motorsports Chevrolet, 130, , , , , , 13, Running
25) 35, Norm Benning, No. 6 H & H Transport Chevrolet, 129, , , , , , 12, Running
26) 8, Sheldon Creed, No. 2 Chevy Accessories Chevrolet, 118, , 4, 2, 18, , 18, DVP
27) 14, Brett Moffitt, No. 23 Destiny Homes Chevrolet, 94, 2, 3, 2, 11, , 27, Accident
28) 33, Tyler Ankrum, No. 26 Liuna! Chevrolet, 92, , 6, , , , 14, Accident
29) 24, Codie Rohrbaugh, No. 9 Grant County Mulch Chevrolet, 91, , , , , , 8, DVP
30) 5, Ty Majeski #, No. 45 Studio 45 Tavern Chevrolet, 90, , , , , , 7, DVP
31) 28, Clay Greenfield, No. 68 Rackley Roofing Toyota, 90, , , , , , 6, DVP
32) 31, Jennifer Jo Cobb, No. 10 Fastener Supply Company Chevrolet, 87, , , , , , 5, DVP
33) 7, Johnny Sauter, No. 13 Vivitar Ford, 83, , , , , , 5, Accident
34) 27, Stewart Friesen, No. 52 Halmar Racing To Beat Hunger Toyota, 82, , , 1, 3, , 5, Accident
35) 21, Natalie Decker, No. 44 Ruedebusch Development Chevrolet, 82, , , , , , 5, Accident
36) 20, Cory Roper, No. 04 CarQuest Ford, 77, , , , , , 5, Accident
37) 36, Bryan Dauzat, No. 28 FDNY Racing/American Genomics Chevrolet, 61, , , , , , 5, Electrical
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie, (DVP) Damaged Vehicle Policy
Race Length: 134 laps, 201. miles
Time of Race: 1 hr, 58 min, 13 sec
Average Speed: 102.016 mph
Margin of Victory: 0.324 second

Stage 1 Top 10: 21, 23, 88, 18, 51, 30, 24, 38, 4, 19
Stage 2 Top 10: 21, 88, 23, 2, 19, 26, 16, 24, 18, 38

Race Comments: Matt Crafton won the e.p.t. 200 at Kansas Speedway, his 15th victory in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.

Prior to the start, the following vehicle(s) dropped to the rear of the field under penalty for the reasons indicated: Nos. 2, 3, 11, 52 (backup trucks), No. 45 (transmission change), Nos. 00, 33, 40, 56 (driver change).

Caution Flags: 9 for 38 laps;
Laps: 32-36 (Stage 1 Conclusion [97]);
44-46 (No. 28 Spin Turn 2 [68]);
62-67 (Stage 2 Conclusion [45]);
74-77 (No. 40 Spin Turn 4 [11]);
79-82 (No. 04, 19 Incident Backstretch [9]);
84-87 (No. 9, 10, 11, 13, 15, 33, 40, 44, 45, 52, 68, 97 Incident Front stretch [Red Flag: 00:05:07] [None]);
95-99 (No. 21, 23, 26 Incident Front stretch [00]);
105-107 (No. 4 Spin Turn 1 [00]);
109-112 (No. 2 Incident Turn 4 [40]).

Lead Changes: 15 among 9 drivers;
C. Purdy 0;
C. Eckes # 1-6;
Z. Smith # 7-33;
A. Hill 34-35;
B. Rhodes 36;
A. Hill 37-40;
Z. Smith # 41-63;
S. Friesen 64-66;
M. Crafton 67;
B. Moffitt 68-71;
S. Creed 72-77;
B. Moffitt 78-84;
T. Gray No. 85-87;
S. Creed 88-99;
A. Hill 100-112;
M. Crafton 113-134.

Cometic Gasket Stage 1 Winner: Zane Smith, No. 21

Cometic Gasket Stage 2 Winner: Zane Smith, No. 21

Mobil 1 Driver of the Race: Matt Crafton, No. 88

Sunoco Rookie of the Race Award: Christian Eckes, No. 18

John Davison

Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.

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Volume 2020, Issue 7, Posted 5:14 PM, 07.25.2020