BRISTOL, Tenn – A spin with four laps to go in Wednesday night’s UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway proved to be the saving grace for Brad Keselowski Racing’s Ryan Blaney, who grabbed the lead on a green-white-checkered restart to win his first race of the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season.
Blaney recovered from an early race penalty for jumping a restart to find himself closing on leader Matt Crafton with five laps remaining. When Ty Dillon spun on Lap 196, it triggered the final caution of the night and the opportunity for Blaney to steal Crafton’s thunder. On the final restart, Crafton’s truck sputtered, failing to come up to speed, allowing Blaney to take off and seal his fourth career NCWTS victory.
“It feels really good,” Blaney said. “I’m proud of everyone on this No. 29 team. I’ve had a chance to drive this truck four times this year and we’ve come really, really close every single time and to finally get it to Victory Lane, my last start of the year for this truck, it really means a lot to get Chad (Kendrick, crew chief) and Brad (Keselowski, team owner) back to Victory Lane.
“To do that in that fashion coming from a lap down and being able to drive through the field like that says a lot about our race team and a lot about what as an organization we can do.”
Keystone Light Pole Award winner Kyle Busch’s slow start allowed outside pole-sitter Blaney to steal the lead early by the exit of Turn 1, controlling the field through the first caution on Lap 31 for a spin in Turn 2.
On the restart, Blaney roared away from the field, but a few laps later, NASCAR black-flagged him on Lap 37 for jumping the restart, forcing a pass-through penalty, giving the lead to Cole Custer.
Busch, who restarted fifth, methodically worked his way forward and attempted to take the lead away from the young NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winner, but Custer kept Busch at bay through the race’s second caution on Lap 79 for debris in Turn 1.
Busch and Johnny Sauter would trade the lead following the caution, before Custer returned to the top spot on lap 90.
A more than 1.5-second lead for Custer would be erased when Ray Black Jr. and Caleb Holman crashed in Turn 4 on lap 112.
With darkening skies overhead and the threat of rain approaching the World’s Fastest Half-Mile, a majority of the teams elected to stay out. Despite his best efforts, Crafton tried to snatch the lead away from the JR Motorsports driver, but to no avail.
Custer slowly saw Crafton become a diminishing factor in his rear-view mirror until he hit heavy lap traffic with 50 laps remaining. That’s when Spencer Gallagher spun in Turns 3 and 4, and Custer found himself trapped in the high-line and collided with Gallagher.
Heavy front-end damage sent the No. 00 Chevrolet to pit road for repairs, eliminating the NASCAR Next driver from competition. As the accident happened, Crafton slipped by on the inside and took the lead — which he held until the green-white-checkered restart that lost him the race.
While under yellow for the fourth time of the night, heavy rain began to fall, causing a red flag for 45 minutes, 50 seconds while the track was dried.
Next up for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is the Aug. 30 race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for the third-annual Chevrolet Silverado 250. Blaney is the defending champion.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race – UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP
1. (2) Ryan Blaney(i), Ford, 202, $46349.
2. (1) Kyle Busch(i), Toyota, 202, $31811.
3. (7) John H. Nemechek #, Chevrolet, 202, $25409.
4. (17) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 202, $19358.
5. (3) Brandon Jones #, Chevrolet, 202, $17800.
6. (4) Erik Jones #, Toyota, 202, $16114.
7. (6) Matt Crafton, Toyota, 202, $16948.
8. (19) Tyler Reddick, Ford, 202, $15892.
9. (12) Johnny Sauter, Toyota, 202, $15837.
10. (18) Dalton Sargeant, Toyota, 202, $14482.
11. (14) John Wes Townley, Chevrolet, 202, $15726.
12. (15) Timothy Peters, Toyota, 202, $15560.
13. (10) David Gilliland(i), Ford, 202, $13253.
14. (21) JJ Haley, Chevrolet, 202, $13198.
15. (11) Ben Kennedy, Toyota, 202, $15965.
16. (5) Cole Custer, Chevrolet, 202, $15282.
17. (24) Tyler Young, Chevrolet, 201, $15221.
18. (9) Cameron Hayley #, Toyota, 201, $15143.
19. (26) Travis Kvapil, Chevrolet, 199, $15088.
20. (22) Justin Jennings, Chevrolet, 199, $15532.
21. (20) Ray Black Jr. #, Chevrolet, 198, $14977.
22. (13) Spencer Gallagher #, Chevrolet, 195, $14949.
23. (23) Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 194, $12672.
24. (31) Norm Benning, Chevrolet, 190, $14894.
25. (29) Jennifer Jo Cobb, Chevrolet, 189, $13739.
26. (32) Wendell Chavous #, Chevrolet, 188, $13533.
27. (30) Korbin Forrister #, Chevrolet, 176, $12505.
28. (28) Ryan Ellis, Chevrolet, 176, $12258.
29. (25) Mason Mingus, Chevrolet, Brakes, 158, $12202.
30. (16) Daniel Suarez(i), Toyota, Overheating, 154, $11202.
31. (8) Caleb Holman, Chevrolet, Accident, 112, $10702.
32. (27) Tyler Tanner, Chevrolet, Brakes, 12, $9202.
Chris Knight – NASCAR Wire Service
Image: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images