Timothy Peters led every one of the 204 laps of the UNOH 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at the half mile Bristol Motor Speedway, but still had to survive a series of late race restarts in order to finally claim the chequered flag ahead of his Red Horse Racing team mate Parker Kligerman.
"What an awesome feeling," said Peters in victory lane, thanking his crew for all their hard work. "We're working really hard, all the guys in the shop. The sky's the limit right now."
Peters had jumped polesitter Cale Gale for the lead as soon as the green flag came out, at the start of what proved to be an unbroken run of 81 caution-free laps - the most seen to date in 15 Truck events at Bristol. Gale initially maintained second place but eventually was replaced by Brad Keselowski, while other drivers including Kligerman and Brendan Gaughan were struggling with loose cars as the drivers had to contend with the cooling track as the evening drew following practice and qualifying sessions in the daytime.
The first caution came out for Chris Jones hitting the wall in turn 4 on lap 82, and there was a second caution for Jeff Agnew just minutes after the restart. There would be six cautions in all, with Miguel Paludo spinning in turn 4 on lap 148 but able to continue, Todd Bodine more emphatically out of the running on lap 159 after crashing in turn 3 and Jake Crum's day coming to an end on lap 187.
Peters weathered all of those incidents and restarts while still maintaining the lead, and not even pit stops could depose him from the front. However, it was the last caution of the day that would have the biggest effect on key figures in the field.
After having a good day at the office, Cale Gale blotted his copybook at the end of proceedings by spinning on the backstretch on lap 194 to bring out the final caution of the day, and the lengthy clean up of the #33 pushed the race into a green-white-chequered overtime finish four laps longer than the planned race distance. That proved disastrous for a number of leading trucks who were already on the limit fuel-wise: Brad Keselowski and Ty Dillon ran dry at the restart while running in third and fourth place and ended up in 25th and 21st position respectively as a result.
"I should have had a good three or four laps of fuel left," said Keselowski, clearly puzzled by running dry when he did. "I don't know. Something happened, and we'll have to go back and figure out what it was."
Nothing was stopping Peters from crossing the finish line in first place, however. "Boy, was she flawless tonight," said Peters about the #17 truck. "What an amazing performance. This thing was phenomenal from lap one."
Kligerman was disappointed not to have put his one late race opportunity to steal the victory to best use: "I wish I would have had a better restart than that. I wanted to get a good restart and we got a good jump but then he just pulled away."
That finish meant that the points deadlock between Peters and Dillon at the top of the championship standings coming out of last week's race at Michigan has now been comprehensively broken. Peters leads by 17pts with James Buescher now in second place front of Dillon, who drops down to third.
Nelson Piquet Jr. followed up his maiden series win last weekend with a slightly lacklustre 18th place finish at Bristol, showing that he still has a little to learn on short ovals despite his breakthrough success with wins in Truck, Nationwide and K&N Pro Series East so far in 2012.
It's the first race at Bristol Motor Speedway since the track was changed to grind down the top groove of the progressive banking in order to make the racing closer. How that change will impact this weekend's Nationwide and Sprint Cup events remains to be seen.
Full race results, qualifying and practice times
and Truck Series championship standings
are all available.