Red Horse Racing's Timothy Peters secured his first win of the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, taking the lead at the final restart to clinch voctory at Talladega Speedway on Saturday afternoon after early dominant leader Matt Crafton fell foul of a series of setbacks toward the end of the 98-lap Fred's 250 event.
Full NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race results from Talladega Superspeedway.
Its' the first time that Peters has been to victory lane since last year's Talladega event, making him only the third driver in series history to win consecutive races at the venue following in the footsteps of Todd Bodine (2007, 2008) and Kyle Busch (2009, 2010).. In total, it's Peters' ninth victory in 203 Truck outings.
He had started the race from pole position for the first time in 2015 having earlier posted a final round qualifying lap of 53.706s (178.304mph) putting him 0.072s ahead of Athenian Motorsports' John Wes Townley who joined him on the front row of the grid for the green flag. Peters was able to retain the lead once the race got underway and was still out in front when the caution flags came out on lap 13 for John Hunter Nemechek spun out on the frontstretch in the SWM-NEMCO Motorsports #8.
The yellows meant an early round of pit stops which put Peter's team mate Ben Kennedy at the head of the field followed by Peters, Townley and Venturini Motorsports' Matt Tifft, but it was ThorSport Racing's Matt Crafton who managed to make short work of them all at the restart and go to the front on lap 20. Clearly the class of the field at this stage, Crafton was able to stay out in front for all but four of the next 43 laps, the exception occurring during the next round of pit stops under caution for Terry Jones hitting the inside wall off turn 4 on lap 37 when Crafton was beaten off pit road by Peters only to quickly recover the lead again once the race went back to green once more.
It was looking very promising indeed for the reigning champion, but then Crafton's fortunes changed dramatically in the final third of the race. He was forced to surrender the lead on lap 66 and drop to the back of the field in order to take care of debris on his front grille that was sending his engine temperature soaring. This setback was compounded a few laps later when he ran out of gas before he could make his final scheduled pit stop, and the team then had difficulty firing tup the #88 once he finally made it onto pit road for refuelling.
Crafton was given a little help by a new caution on lap 82 for Clay Greenfield stalling on the track which at least closed up the field, but this merely ended up putting him in a dangerous part of the neighbourhood for the restart and he duly made contact with Stanton Barrett in turn 1 to bring out the fourth caution of the day. Barrett got the worst of it and ended up in the wall, but Crafton didn't escape unscathed either and had to pit for repairs before the next restart attempt on lap 89: and then came the capper to compleye Crafton's rapidly deteriorating day as he ended up involved in one of Talladega's 'big ones', a multi-car wreck that involved ten cars in total and forced race control to red flag the race for a 14 minute clean-up. As well as Crafton, that accident had also removed Kennedy from contention for the race win as well as Tyler Tanner and Travis Kvapil, while Tifft, Nemecheck, Timmy Hill, Chad Boat, Johnny Sauter and Tyler Reddick had also got involved to a lesser degree.
With Crafton now no longer in the running for victory, the lead of the race had passed in turn from Erik Jones to Peters and then to Brian Keselowski, racing for the first time in the Truck Series for his younger brother's team Brad Keselowski Racing, sitting in for regular driver Austin Theriault who is still recovering from a back injury suffered in big accident during the recent event at Las Vegas. For a spell it looked like the elder Keselowski was on course to win on his series début, but just before the restart on lap 94 the #29 ran out of gas and limped back to pit road.
Just before the ten-car wreck, GMS Racing's Brandon Jones had been propelled to the front thanks to a push from Kyle Busch Motorsport's Christopher Bell - something not technically allowed under Truck Series rules at Talladega but the fault and therefore the penalty for the offence lay with Bell while Jones was allowed to keep the lead for the single green-white-chequered restart finish attempt now allowed at superspeedways. Peters was ideally placed to pounce and take charge, and even before he took the white flag to mark the start of the final lap it was Jones' team mate Spencer Gallagher who spun out to trigger a new caution and ensure that the race would end under yellow with Peters clinching the win from Jones, and Billy Boat Motorsports's Mason Mingus pipping Erik Jones to third.
Fourth place was still good enough to allow Erik Jones to remain control of the championship standings by 18 points from BKR's Tyler Reddick who ended up crossing the line in fifth place ahead of Cameron Hayley, Johnny Sauter, Chris Fontaine, Chad Boat and Tyler Young rounding out the top ten. Crafton's miserable day finished with a 24th place finish meaning he drops to third place in the championship battle and is now 23 points away from the leader.
Only four rounds remain in this year's Truck Series championship, the first of which is the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday, October 31.
Full race results, plus qualifying and practice speeds and updated Camping World Truck Series championship standings.
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