After a marathon weekend of five practice sessions and a beautiful full moon in the sky, the Camping World Truck Series was set and ready for the inaugural Lucas Oil 200 at Iowa Speedway.
The green flag flew at about 9:10 local time, with polesitter Mike Skinner leading the field. It was Skinner's first pole of the year.
Second place in the points Matt Crafton, though, wasted little time, taking the lead from Skinner as they headed into turn three. Caution came out on lap four when the No. 92 truck of John Jackson spun out in turn four.
Crafton would lead the field to the green on lap six, but upon the restart the No. 08 Chevrolet of Jamie Dick made contact with the wall.
He and polesitter Skinner would battle after the restart on lap 11, while further back in the pack Johnny Sauter, Aric Almirola and Tayler Malsam battled for a top five spot. Meanwhile, Skinner was able to retake the lead from Crafton.
Sauter, who finally made it out of the three way battle for fifth, continued making progress, passing T.J. Bell for third place on lap 45. The No. 13 Chevrolet of Sauter started sixth.
Past the 50 lap mark of the event, Crafton made another run at Skinner's lead, and the pair battled side by side by NASCAR officials threw the caution, this time for debris. By the time both pit stops were done, Skinner had maintained his lead while Crafton fell back to fifth. T.J. Bell, Colin Braun and Ron Hornaday made up the other top five spots.
Skinner led the trucks to the restart on lap 64, and by the lead lap both Sauter and Crafton were challenging the No. 33 of Hornaday for this fourth position. After a three wide battle between them, in which the leaders were able to pull away, Hornaday maintained the spot.
Austin Dillon, the grandson of Richard Childress, and his No. 3 Bad Boy Mowers Chevrolet found trouble after getting loose in turn two. It would be the fourth caution of the night, and see Todd Bodine back on the lead lap.
Once again Skinner led the field to the green on lap 81, leading uncontested while Hornaday and Bell battled for second, Hornaday ultimately taking the spot on lap 84.
On lap 110, Stacy Compton and David Starr brought out the night's fifth caution after making contact in turn blank. Compton was able to continue after the spin, but Starr made heavy contact with the wall. He was treated and released from the infield care center. Mario Gosselin was the lucky dog.
It was a perfect scenario for the leaders, who entered their fuel window. Two laps after the caution the leaders came down pit road, first for tires and the following time for fuel. Getting their truck full of fuel, Almirola beat the field off pit road leading Skinner, Braun, Cook and Hornaday. Crafton came out in the sixth spot.
Upon the restart with 84 to go, Skinner went side by side with Almirola. Behind them, Hornaday and Cook battled for third, with Hornaday putting a slide mode on the blank truck to take the spot.
Skinner was able to take the lead as he and Almirola continued their side by side battle across the start finish line.
Brian Scott, who continues to drive with a broken right wrist, battled a race long ill handling truck, barely hit the wall on lap 121.
Big trouble on lap 126 brought out the sixth caution. Battling for 16th place, Bodine and Jason White collided, spinning into the infield. Bodine escaped with minimal damage to his front end, while White's Dodge lost a right front and was forced to the garage.
The green flag flew on lap blank, Hornaday immediately passing and slamming the door on fourth place Braun, setting his sights on the leaders. Further back in the pack his teammate Ricky Carmichael battled to maintain his 11th position over Tayler Malsam.
Despite bringing out an earlier caution in the night, Austin Dillon worked his way up to 14th with 60 laps remaining. Up front, Skinner continued pacing the field, holding a second lead over second place Aric Almirola.
With 50 laps remaining the field began to settle down as Skinner expanded his lead over Almirola to 2.8 seconds.
Johnny Sauter and T.J. Bell battled side by side for sixth and seventh while the leaders maintained their positions ahead.
Eighteen laps remained when Skinner had expanded his lead to well over four seconds over Almirola, as the leaders began to battle lap traffic. The No. 6 Conway Ford of Braun caught Hornaday two laps later, running all across his back bumper, stalking the No. 33 for fourth. Braun passed him with ten laps to go.
With just nine laps remaining, the one thing Skinner did not want to see occurred-- a caution, completely erasing his over five second lead.
Just four laps remained when the green flag came out, Skinner instantly jumping out to a two, then three truck length lead. The driver of the No. 5 then told his team he thought he was out of fuel, but continued on and expanded his lead.
A great side by side battle for third saw Braun hold off Hornaday, but it was Mike Skinner winning for the seventh time in an inaugural race. It was his second victory of the season.
"I've been about ready to throw up most of the day," crew chief Eric Phillips said. "It's not very often you have as good a truck as we had tonight."
This Tundra, man...(this team did) such a fantastic job. It was just awesome," Skinner said before thanking his sponsors. "It's awesome.
"The motor died coming off of four, I don't know if it was a pick up thing or vapor lock thing or what. But it just quit. But this thing was so fast threw the corners it didn't matter what it did on the straightaway."
With the victory, Skinner gained 25 points on leader Hornaday but remains 281 points behind. Eight races remain before the season ends at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Next Saturday it'll be an afternoon brawl as the Camping World Truck Series races into Gateway International Raceway for the Copart 200, where points leader Ron Hornaday dominated last season. Be sure to catch all the action at 2 p.m. on SPEED.