Matt Crafton extended his lead in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings with his third win of the season on Friday night. The two-time and defending CWTS champion conquered the field at Texas Motor Speedway en route to a stellar performance in the WinStar World Casino 400.
NASCAR Trucks' Twitter account congratulated the winner and acknowledged his "dominant performance":
VP of Media Relations for Texas Motor Speedway Mike Zizzo added perspective to Crafton's win:
Crafton had to hold off a late and spirited charge from Daniel Suarez, but he ultimately got it done. It was the second straight runner-up performance for Suarez, who also finished second behind Tyler Reddick at the Lucas Oil 200 on May 29.
Reddick came into the race just 11 points behind Crafton in the standings, but his 11th-place finish in Texas widened the gap.
Here's a look at the updated standings:
|NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series Standings|
|5||John Wes Townley||227||-78|
You can see the full standings at NASCAR.com.
The Furious Finish
Crafton's win wound up being delayed by the fifth caution flag of the race when Daniel Hemric's No. 14 truck spun out on the 160th lap. Fox Sports 1's official Twitter account captured the mishap:
The restart gave a small window for Suarez and others to steal away the win from Crafton. However, like a determined champion, Crafton was able to turn away the final push from the contenders to secure the victory.
Crafton led 77 laps of a race that featured an event-record 19 lead changes, per Zizzo:
When the race was over, Crafton talked about the restarts and his relentless pursuit for perfection. Per John Sturbin of NASCAR Wire Service, Crafton said: "The restarts were hairy. We got a pretty good start on that last one and ran side-by-side-by-side. We're happy for sure, but not satisfied."
That's why he's a two-time champion.
The Other Contenders
With another strong performance from Suarez, the 23-year-old from Mexico is making an impact in the world of NASCAR Trucks, despite not having enough appearances to qualify for points in the standings. With his last two showings, it's hard not to wonder where he might be if he spent more time in this series rather than in Xfinity. Popular Speed noted Suarez and John Wes Townley's efforts:
Reddick remains the most formidable challenger to Crafton's quest for a three-peat, despite the disappointing finish in Friday night's race. He's still just 25 points behind, and he actually widened his lead over Erik Jones, who finished 15th.
The next race on the schedule is the American Ethanol presents the Drivin' for Linemen 200 from Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois. Crafton has never won at this venue in five appearances and has just one top-five finish, per Racing-Reference.
We'll see if he remains mediocre in Madison or if he can crank out another win.