Matt Crafton Wins WinStar Casino and Resort 400

Matt Crafton chalks up a win at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday night. Photo Courtesy: CTX Photography
Matt Crafton chalks up a win at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday night. Photo Courtesy: CTX Photography

By Will Martin

Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway meant a return of the Indy Car Races to Fort Worth. It also meant a first time experience for enjoying truck racing under the lights spring style.

It seemed everyone was in agreement that Kyle Busch wasn’t missed (he was in the Poconos).

It wouldn’t be race night without a little bit of hijinks from Eddie Gossage. Dressed up as the prefect of discipline Eddie took time to honor a student who was racing on this night.

Erik Jones from Swartz Creek Community College was given the full treatment before this race.

Prior to the race there was also a moving video tribute to the memory of that cold morning in Normandy France 70 years ago as a military plane procession flew overhead and you heard part of Ronald Reagan’s speech from 1984.

The WinStar Casino and Resort 400 went off without a hitch. No cautions until Lap 35 was reached. Only 23 laps were under caution in the race.

For a good part of the evening it was a three player race between Matt Crafton (88), Ryan Blaney (29), and Ron Hornaday (30).

Matt Crafton would get the Nascar Camping World Truck Series win for Slim Jim/Menards Toyota and owner Rhonda Thorson as Crew Chief Chief Carl Joiner and team opted to be daring and not go for a pit stop the final 61 laps of the race.

A race that Matt led for 118 of the 167 laps. In ending a string of 26 races without a victory at TMS Crafton also had a career best in laps led in a race.

The margin of victory June 6th was 13.302 seconds (a new track record) which bested the previous margin of 11.817 by Dennis Setzer in 2004. Pole sitter Justin Lofton finished 2nd with longtime driver Joe Nemechek finishing 3rd.

After three runner up finishes at Texas Motor Speedway Crafton was happy to finally getting the win.

“The main thing that I asked them (my pit crew) was ‘can we make it?’ and they said ‘yeah’ and then we got such a big lead and I think that’s what helped us so much in that I was able to conserve fuel toward the end. They’d slow me down for five laps and then tell me to speed it up for five laps. I’m going to tell you…that is one of the toughest things to do to a race car driver is to tell him to slow down and win a race. Without a doubt we had the fastest truck here tonight’. Matt Crafton said after the race.

This marked the first time Matt Crafton has won multiple races in a season. His other victory came at Martinsville. It was also his 4th top ten finish in 2014. With the victory Crafton now enjoys an 11 point lead over Johnny Sauter in the points race (232-221). Ron Hornaday sits 3rd at 209 points.

Next race for the truck series takes them to Gateway Motorsports Park in St. Louis, Mo.