NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points leader Timothy Peters started on pole position for Saturday night's floodlit race at the 0.875-mile Iowa Speedway, but he was quickly caught up in a fierce duel with James Buescher and in the end only a good final restart enabled him to outrace Ron Hornaday for the chequered flag and his first win of 2012.
"This was definitely a milestone in my career," said Peters. "I feel like, because I've never sat on the pole and never led like we did to win the race."
Peters secured the lead at the start but the race was quickly under yellow on lap 6 for an spin at turn 2 involving Brennan Newberry, and at the restart James Buescher surged into the lead and held it for the next 40 laps before Peters was able to get back on top shortly before the second caution of the night on lap 51 for Paulie Harraka's exit from the race with a blown tyre sent everyone onto pit road for the first time of the night. Another caution followed soon afterwards for a fairly harmless spin when Jason Leffler got loose in the #18 in turn 4 on lap 63 while trying to navigate under Joey Coulter.
Peters was able to keep the lead at the restart, but six laps later Buescher was pushing hard and would not be denied, taking to the front where he would be stubbornly difficult to shift for the next 58 laps, giving him the points for most laps led in the race with a final tally of 91 laps at the front during the race.
But just when it looked like Buescher was locked into victory lane, disaster struck and a blown tyre put the #31 into the wall on lap 136. That put Peters back in front, but a fifth caution for oil on the track from David Starr's smoking #81 on lap 165 enabled Ron Hornaday Jr. to get the jump on Peters at the restart and claim the lead, and Peters didn't seem to have enough left to do anything about it.
"He just came out of nowhere," said Peters of the sudden emergence of Hornday's threat. "He's always good on restarts."
Hornaday also controlled the next restart which followed a caution for Ryan Sieg spinning around on lap 176 which also caught out Todd Bodine with just 20 laps to run in the race. But Peters got a second bite at the cherry a few laps later when the seventh caution of the night came out, after repeated collisions between Cale Gale and Dakoda Armstrong ended up with Gale going into the wall between turns 3 and 4 on lap 183.
This time it was Peters who nailed the restart while Hornaday spun his tyres slightly: "He got a pretty good jump on me," Hornaday said later. "I spun 'em pretty bad ... He got me." That was all Peters needed to get the lead, and with no more cautions arising in the final ten laps he was able to stay in front of Hornaday and claim his entrance pass into victory lane.
"We just launched really well and got a really good restart, and beat him to the corner for a good start into turn 1," said Peters. "He couldn't get by - I was sitting there praying that the caution wouldn't come out!"
The Red Horse Racing driver acknowledged that Buescher's misfortune had been an important strike of luck for him mid-race: "I felt like that he and I did have the stronger trucks. It was going to be decided by him or I, so in the end I'm glad I'm sitting here!" laughed Peters.
Hornaday held on to second place ahead of Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter, and admitted that he and his crew hadn't quite nailed the truck set-up as much as they needed to if they were to beat Peters: "We made it tight. It was just not good enough," he said.
Peters win means he extends his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship lead to 12pts over Justin Lofton who finished in fourth place at Iowa on a night where the Cup and Nationwide regulars were all absent in competition over in New Hampshire. Series rookie Ty Dillon has fallen just behind Peters and Lofton after finishing in seventh at Iowa.
Full race results plus times from qualifying and practice
available, along with championship standings