By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
DOVER, Del. – It took 16 tries, but Matt Crafton finally got his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Dover International Speedway.
Holding off hard-charging Daniel Suárez throughout a 27-lap green-flag run to the finish of Friday’s Dover 200 at the Monster Mile, the two-time series champion picked up his first win of the season and the 12th of his career, all but assuring himself a berth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase.
“We’ve gotten close and we’ve had very fast trucks – and this truck was very, very good today,” said Crafton, who has recorded all 12 of his career wins in No. 88 trucks fielded by ThorSport Racing. “It’s all about the guys behind me.
“This team never gives up because we weren’t very good in the last practice. We were 21st. Junior (Joiner, crew chief) and I sat down and talked for a while – and we talked again. I just showed up later and let him do his work. They worked on it all day – a little air pressure here and a little air pressure there and finally this thing was right on.”
And “right on” was good enough to keep Suárez at bay over the closing laps.
“It’s awesome,” Crafton said. “I’ve always wanted Miles (the Monster trophy).”
Suárez came home second in the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota, matching his career best. Christopher Bell ran third, followed by Johnny Sauter and Cole Custer, who overcame an early penalty for jumping the first restart of the race on lap 49 of 200 to finish fifth.
Suárez thought he had the fastest truck during the closing run but couldn’t get to Crafton’s bumper.
“When I was moving to the top, I thought I was making some ground, but the slow cars were on the top, so it was difficult for me to keep the momentum and stay there,” Suárez said. “I don’t know what I could have done different to try to complete the pass.
“But what I think was that the 51 truck was the fastest out there at the end of that run, but clean air is super important here, and that paid off really good for the 88 team.”
Though Michael Waltrip referred to Joiner as a “mastermind” on the FOX Sports television broadcast, Joiner was quick to deflect credit to his driver.
“We do it together, and we’re both masterminds at what we do, because we never stop,” Joiner said. “That’s what makes us a unit. We don’t ever, ever stop. He’ll text me or call me at midnight if he woke up and had an epiphany or something. The good thing is we’ll both take it in and do it together.”
Notes: Polesitter William Byron, last week’s winner at Kansas, led a race-high 80 laps but faded to 11th at the finish. Crafton was close behind, leading 76 laps… Friday was a mixed bag for ThorSport, which had two of trucks, driven by Ben Rhodes and Rico Abreu, wreck together on Lap 61… Crafton took over the series lead by two points over Timothy Peters, who finished 14th… In post-race inspection, Suárez ‘ No. 51 Toyota was found to be too low in the left rear. If any penalties are warranted, they will be announced next week.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race – JACOB Companies 200
1. (5) Matt Crafton, Toyota, 200.
2. (6) Daniel Suárez(i), Toyota, 200.
3. (9) Christopher Bell #, Toyota, 200.
4. (15) Johnny Sauter, Chevrolet, 200.
5. (7) Cole Custer #, Chevrolet, 200.
6. (21) Spencer Gallagher, Chevrolet, 200.
7. (16) Tyler Reddick, Ford, 200.
8. (18) Ryan Truex, Toyota, 200.
9. (8) Daniel Hemric, Ford, 200.
10. (22) Kaz Grala, Chevrolet, 200.
11. (1) William Byron #, Toyota, 200.
12. (3) Matt Tifft #, Toyota, 200.
13. (11) Ben Kennedy, Chevrolet, 200.
14. (17) Timothy Peters, Toyota, 200.
15. (19) John H Nemechek, Chevrolet, 200.
16. (14) Nick Drake, Chevrolet, 200.
17. (26) Austin Hill, Ford, 198.
18. (24) Jordan Anderson, Chevrolet, 198.
19. (4) Cameron Hayley, Toyota, 197.
20. (2) Brandon Jones(i), Chevrolet, 196.
21. (27) Tyler Young, Chevrolet, 196.
22. (13) Rico Abreu #, Toyota, 196.
23. (30) Travis Kvapil, Chevrolet, 195.
24. (29) Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, 194.
25. (31) CJ Faison, Chevrolet, 190.
26. (28) Bobby Pierce, Chevrolet, Accident, 176.
27. (12) Parker Kligerman, Ford, Rear Gear, 136.
28. (10) Ben Rhodes #, Toyota, 131.
29. (20) John Wes Townley, Chevrolet, Accident, 128.
30. (32) Jennifer Jo Cobb, Chevrolet, Brakes, 65.
31. (23) Brandon Brown, Chevrolet, Suspension, 56.
32. (25) Austin Wayne Self, Toyota, Engine, 41.
Image: Patrick Smith/Getty Images