Mike Skinner Is the Benefactor of Matt Crafton's Stupidity at Gateway

Horn FanSenior Writer ISeptember 13, 2009

MADISON, IL - SEPTEMBER 12: Mike Skinner driving the #5 PC Miler Navigator Toyota celebrates winning the Camping World truck race Copart 200 at the Gateway International Raceway September 12, 2009 in Madison, Illinois. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)

On Saturday afternoon, Mike Skinner would survive a wild and woolly green-white-checkers finish to the Copart 200 at Gateway International Raceway and win back-to-back races in the Truck series.

Skinner collected his 28th career win, third of the season for himself and his Randy Moss Motorsports team.

It would be an unexpected victory as Ron Hornaday Jr. dominated the race, leading 116 laps and most certainly would have won. If not for the sheer stupidity of Matt Crafton.

During Krista Voda's pre-race Set-Up Show it was announced that the Trucks next year will race at Gateway realigned with the Nationwide Series, and it was exciting news to hear.

During the race coverage, we'd learn that B/R's Brian Scott has a full-time offer to run in the Nationwide Series in 2010 with a undisclosed team.

He's currently deciding to take it or run another year in the Truck Series with his Xpress team and expect a announcement from him shortly.

Colin Braun in the No. 6 Con-Way Freight Ford started on the pole. It was his third pole of the season.

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Ron Hornaday Jr. in the No. 33 Longhorn Chevrolet started on the outside pole position and the sixth time this season he starts from the front row.

Johnny Sauter in the No. 13 Funsand/Rodney Atkins/Curb Records started third, Brian Scott in the No. 16 Albertson's Toyota started fourth, and T.J. Bell in the No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota started fifth.

At race time it was 79 degrees and partly cloudy. 36 trucks started the race with three teams going home, and the pit window was 65-75 laps.

Braun would take the green flag on Lap One, with Hornaday on his bumper but would be able to just stay ahead of him to lead the lap.

On Lap Two, he wouldn't be so lucky as Hornaday would pass Braun on the low-side coming out of two and pull away with the lead.

Bell and Scott made slight contact racing side by side for fourth, causing Scott to get out of the groove just kiss the wall with his truck.

It allowed Matt Crafton in the No. 88 Menards/NIBCO Chevrolet to pass them both for third on Lap Three.

Scott would continue to fall back, losing sixth to Mike Skinner in the No. 5 PC Miler Navigator Toyota on Lap Five.

Then on Lap Six, for the second time Scott would just kiss the wall after racing hard with Stacy Compton in the No. 60 SafeAuto Insurance Toyota and the two making contact.

Todd Bodine in the No. 60 Ventrillo would be able to make a three wide as the two made contact and took seventh.

The first caution comes out on Lap Eight, for debris and no Aaron's Lucky Dog was awarded under the caution.

On the Lap 13 restart, Hornaday would take the green flag, pull away by a couple of truck lengths on Braun in second.

But they never got out of turn two, before the second caution flag came out for Timothy Peters in the No. 17 Strutmasters.com Toyota sliding throught the grass after contact with Rick Crawford in the No. 14 Circle Bar/International Diesel Ford.

Peters didn't hit anything and had no damage but would pit under the caution for tires and to check the splitter. Crafton would also pit to readjust his splitter as it kept hitting the track and taking on tires.

On the Lap 16 restart, Hornaday took the green, pulled away by a couple of truck length on Braun and coming back to the stripe it was a seven truck length lead. 

Bell fifth, Bodine sixth, and Compton seventh are three-wide battling for those positions on Lap 18.

The end result was Bodine on Lap 19, would get loose, save it and get challenged by Scott on the outside for seventh.

But on the next lap, Bodine and Scott make slight contact. With Scott getting out of the groove and losing eighth to Crawford.

By Lap 22, Crafton has made it back to 15th after his pit stop and passes Ryan Sieg in the No. 39 S&W Services Chevrolet for 14th.

Hornaday would be leading by 0.529 seconds over Braun in second on Lap 24.

On Lap 25, the best racing was Sauter in third being challenged for the position by Skinner in fourth, but he'd hold his own and Skinner couldn't make a pass.

Speed let use know a interesting note on Skinner. He's driving the same chassis as last week at Iowa and his team worked all week changing it over to run at Gateway.

After 28 laps, the top five was; Hornaday leading by 0.782 seconds, Braun second, Sauter third, Skinner fourth and Compton fifth.

By Lap 33, Hornaday's lead had grown to 0.782 seconds over Braun in second and 1.5 seconds on Sauter in third.

On Lap 36, Crafton has made it back to 13th. The best racing was Scott in 10th and David Starr in the No. 24 Zachry Toyota in 11th battling for those position.

They would battle back and forth, side by side for the positions and it wasn't till Lap 38, that Starr finally made the pass stick for 10th.

The third caution flag came out on Lap 39, for Norm Benning in the No. 57 PellaMotors.com Chevrolet spinning and stalling on the access road.

On Lap 41, everyone pits for tires first, then come back a second time for fuel and adjustments.

Peters and Sieg make only one stop and take over the top two positions. Dexter Bean in the No. 73 Steger Lumber Co. Chevrolet was the Aaron's Lucky Dog winner under this caution.

Both Tayler Malsam in the No. 81 One-Eighty Toyota and Skinner along with several others lost a few positions due to a accordion effect of traffic stopping on pit road, due to slower trucks making pit stops as the faster ones were leaving after stopping.

On the Lap 46 restart, Peters takes the green and pulls away from Sieg by a couple of truck lengths. Braun, running third, would try to pass Sieg for second on the low-side but couldn't make it stick.

On Lap 47, Hornaday in fourth makes slight contact with Braun third, as both were stacked up behind Sieg in second.

Hornaday would get third from Braun and also would have Braun tap him back.

Which caused both to get passed by Bodine on Lap 48 who took over third, dropped Hornaday to fourth and Braun to fifth.

On Lap 49, Braun in fifth gets loose, gets challenged by Crafton for the position and falls back to sixth as Crafton passes him coming back to the stripe.

On Lap 51, Bodine would make the pass for second on Sieg on the low-side and Hornaday would follow him getting third from Sieg.

Sauter who was third prior to the last pit stop is now running 15th due to his truck falling off of the jack during his stop for tires.

On Lap 53, Bodine passes Peters for the lead on the low-side and Hornaday would follow him taking second from Peters on the low-side.

Bodine would have the lead, but had Hornaday all over his bumper and coming back to the stripe on Lap 55 Hornaday would pass him for the lead on the low-side.

On Lap 56, Braun would also get third as he passed Peters and Crafton would also pass Peters for fourth.

After 58 Laps, the top five was; Hornaday leading, Bodine second, Braun third, Crafton fourth and Peters fifth.

By Lap 62, Hornaday would open up his lead to 0.761 seconds on Bodine in second and Braun in third is 2.7 seconds back of the leader.

Starr would expectantly come to pit road on Lap 63, having a electrical problem with the kill switch wiring on his steering wheel and lost two laps on pit road due to the problem.

On Lap 68, Hornaday has opened up to a 1.103 second lead, the best racing was Bell and Scott battling it out for 14th.

A lap later Scott would cruise by Bell for the position on the low-side and take 14th.

By Lap 70, Hornaday had a 1.7-second lead over Bodine in second and Braun was three seconds back in third.

The fourth caution flag came out on Lap 77 for debris in the racing groove. Bean would again be the Aaron's Lucky Dog winner under this caution.

The leaders all pit making the first of two stops for four tires and come back in a second time for fuel.

After pit stops on Lap 79, the top five under caution was; Compton leading by taking two tires, Hornaday second, Bodine third, Braun fourth and Crafton fifth.

On The Lap 81 restart, Compton took the green with Hornaday on his bumper they barely got into turn one when the fifth caution comes out for a wreck on the restart.

Involved in the wreck were; Bell, James Buescher in the No. 10 International Maxx Force Diesel Ford, Brian Ickler in the No. 15 Graceway Pharmaceutical Toyota and Todd Kluever in the No. 8 Malcolmson Construction Chevrolet.

Chris Fontaine in the No. 84 Glenden Enterprises Chevrolet received the Aaron's Lucky Dog Award under this caution.

On the Lap 89 restart, Compton would take the green with Hornaday right on his bumper, but manage to stay just in front of him to lead the lap.

On Lap 91, Compton would slip a little coming out of turn two, that would be all Hornaday need as he passed for the lead on the low-side.

Both Bodine and Braun would pass Compton on Lap 92 for second and third respectively,

By Lap 92, Hornaday was leading by 0.711 seconds on Bodine and Crafton would pass Compton for fourth.

The best racing was Scott and Skinner battling it out for 10th and the last couple of laps they've been battling for the position.

Which saw Scott coming back to the stripe passing on Lap 94 making the pass on the high-side stick taking 10th from Skinner.

Another exciting moment was Compton and Aric Almirola in the No. 15 Miccosukee Resorts/Graceway Pharmaceutical Toyota would be battling for sixth.

They would make contact, but both saved it after getting loose and Crawford would make a three wide pass to take sixth from them.

On Lap 98, Hornaday leads by 0.877 seconds over Bodine in second. When the sixth caution comes out for Compton spinning and stopping in the front stretch grass.

It was the result of a three-wide pass involving Compton Almirola and Scott. Where Scott got loose on the bottom after passing Almirola, came up the track got into Compton and spun him out.

Ickler would be the Aaron's Lucky Dog winner under this caution.

On Lap 99, Crawford and Scott stay out, but everyone else pits making the first of two stops and means everyone should make it the rest of the way on fuel now.

On the Lap 101 restart, Crawford takes the green with Scott on his bumper, but couldn't make any sort of a pass on Crawford and Bodine would get third from Sieg at the line.

On Lap 102, Hornaday in fifth is all over Sieg's bumper in fourth, but coming out of turn two has Braun all over his bumper and Braun would get loose trying to tap Hornaday out of the way.

Braun would lose sixth to Crawford and it was pretty funny since all he got was air in his attempt to tap Hornaday.

The seventh caution flag came out on Lap 103, for another three wide wreck which involved Rick Carmichael in the No. 4 Monster Energy Drink Chevrolet. Mikey Kile in the Brad Keselowski Racing Chevrolet and Terry Cook in the No. 25 Cajun Industries Toyota.

Cook would get loose under Kile and Carmichael, come up the track sandwich Kile between his and Carmichael's truck, and then bounce Carmichael off the wall.

Fontaine was the Aaron's Lucky Dog winner under this caution.

After 104 Laps, the top five under caution was; Crawford leading, Scott second, Bodine third, Hornaday fourth and Crafton fifth.

On the Lap 107 restart, Crawford takes the green with Scott on his bumper, but coming out of turn two Crawford has a couple of truck length lead on Scott.

Crafton would make contact with Hornaday on the restart. It would get Crafton loose from it, didn't effect Hornaday and cause Braun in sixth to start challenging Crafton for the position.

The eighth caution flag comes out on Lap 109, for Braun who got loose racing Crafton hard for fifth, got pinched down on the low-side, got loose spun into the wall and collected Fontaine in the wreck. 

Skinner would get lucky race by the spinning Braun missing him by inches.

Under the caution on Lap 111, Braun has been on pit road multiple times making repairs to his damaged truck and for new tires.

On the Lap 113 restart, Crawford would take the green would get a bad start, lose the lead to Scott coming out of turn two. But coming into turn three, Scott would get passed by Bodine and lose the lead as they came to the stripe.

On Lap 114, Hornaday would make a three wide pass of Bodine and Scott and take the lead and start pulling away from the two.

Crafton almost made it a four wide pass, but thought better of it and wisely back out.

Hornaday would pull away from Bodine by half a dozen truck lengths on Lap 115. The best racing was Scott in third and Crafton in fourth battling it out for the position.

Three laps later Crafton would make the pass stick take third from Scott and Sauter would start to pressure Scott for fourth.

On Lap 117, Hornaday has opened up a 0.837 second on Bodine in second. The best racing is Scott fourth and Sauter fifth battling for the position.

Sauter would make a pass on the low-side stick on Lap 118, taking fourth from Scott.

After 119 laps, the top five was; Hornaday leading by a second, Bodine second, Crafton third, Sauter fourth and Scott fifth.

On Lap 126, Hornaday's lead had shrunk to 0.676 seconds over Bodine in second and Crafton is 1.025 seconds back in third.

Speed would let us know that Hornady collected the five bonus points for leading the most laps today to go with the five for leading and now has collected 105 bonus points this season so far. 

On Lap 129, Hornaday still leads, the best racing is between Braun and Compton battling it out for 11th.

On Lap 130, Hornaday still leads by half second on Bodine but Skinner in fifth, is the fast truck on the track with fresher tires and starts putting pressure on Sauter for fourth.

Compton and Braun are still going at it for 11th on Lap 131, just about every lap they are side by side and Braun can't make the pass stick on the low-side.

On Lap 133, Hornaday leads by 0.716 seconds on Bodine. Skinner is still the fastest truck right now in fifth and just 2.756 seconds back of Hornaday the leader.

After 135 Laps, the top five was; Hornaday leading by half a second, Bodine second, Crafton third, Sauter fourth and Skinner fifth.

On Lap 140, Hornaday has stretched his lead over Bodine back to 1.042 seconds. While Sauter in fourth starts to reel in Crafton in third and he's put half a second between himself and Skinner in fifth.

By Lap 143, Hornaday continues to increase his lead to 1.256 seconds over Bodine.

Should Hornaday hang on for the win, it'll be Kevin Harvick Inc. 20th win as a team and tie them on the all-time list with DEI and HMS.

On Lap 144, as Hornaday continues leading, the best racing was between Malsam and Braun who have been battling the last three laps for the 10th position.

Braun would finally make the pass stick on the low-side taking 10th from Malsam. His truck is decent but not what it was prior to wrecking.

On Lap 149, with Hornaday leading by 1.668 seconds over Bodine in second. The ninth caution flag waves for debris in the racing groove and it tighten the field back up for a shootout to the finish. 

Kile would get the Aaron's Lucky Dog winner on this caution and lucky for him that it happen with 10 to go and not a lap later. Since under 10 laps in the race, no free pass is awarded.

Now this is were it got ugly in the race as Matt "Mr. Stupidity" Crafton showed his true colors and became public enemy No. 1 with the truck fans.

On the Lap 152 restart, Hornaday would take the green and get a good restart on Bodine who just started badly.

But coming into turn one, Bodine has Crafton trying to get the inside and Bodine moves down to the bottom to block Crafton and gets dumped by him.

It brought out the 10th caution flag for the wreck, the ensuing spinning Bodine would collect both Braun with extensive damage to the driver side of his truck and Crawford also received minor damage but was able to continue.

With eight laps to go, NASCAR red-flagged the race rather than have Hornaday winning it under caution for the fans.

SpeedTV's Ray Dunlap did talk to Bodine in the garage area, just mentioned it was any fun being sandwiched between two Chevy's with 20 mph less horsepower and was just trying to get the best possible finish.

Regarding Crafton dumping him, he said knew it was coming, Crafton done it his whole career, and you can't fix someone is that stupid to spin someone going into a turn with the field coming.

My opinion on it while true Bodine blocked him, probably should have just given up the position but Crafton could have used the brain God gave him and we were lucky no one was hurt by his stupidity.

SpeedTV's Rick Allen from the booth did talk to Crafton, who basically didn't care what he did to Bodine and wasn't scared when they talked to him regarding Hornaday leading.

Me, I knew what was coming when the race restarted with four laps to go. I was surprised NASCAR officials didn't warn Crafton like they have done in the past this season to both Busch, Hornaday, and Harvick to name a few.

On the Lap 4 restart, Hornaday takes the green with Crafton on his bumper, going into turn one, Hornaday would move down has the room in front of Crafton when he gets dumped by Crafton.

This brings out the 11th caution flag of the day, Hornaday would bounce the rear of his truck off of the outside wall come of the wall collect Jason Young in the No. 07 ASI Limited/3BR Chevrolet and Kile, both would have damage but be able to finish the race.

While Hornaday's day was done, his No. 33 Longhorn rear end was basically gone all tore apart sitting in the infield grass.

This brought out the second five-minute red flag session. Really it was a pathetic show of sportsmanship by Crafton as this time it was so blatantly obvious what he did.

Reminded me of the Speed/Stenhouse deal in ARCA last year, if you can beat your adversary man to man, just wreck him and show what a loser you are.

If you've watched over the last couple of weeks as the season wind's down, you can tell from the look on Crafton's face that he's getting pissed off more and more with the talk about Hornaday and how is he going to beat him.

It's desperation time for him, nothing he does every race wise, equals what Hornaday does. In my opinion he's only second in the points, because of the stellar trucks from KHI and not on his talent.

It was pretty tense moment when SpeedTV showed the KHI Longhorn team walking behind Crafton's pit box but they showed who the Men were by not blinking going by the pit stall or creating more havoc by verbally or fighting with them.

Under the red flag the top five was; Crafton leading, Skinner second, Sauter third, Scott fourth, and Almirola fifth.

After a five-minute, 34-second delay the yellow came out and when the trucks started moving and NASCAR officials would black-flag Crafton.

They would bring him to pit road for a stop and go under caution but they should have just parked him. Penalize him more by hurting him point wise like he did to Hornaday.

The fans were standing and cheering NASCAR for the call made to Crafton, this moved him back to 13th and meant he would not win the race.

It would be a green-white-checkers finish, with Crafton's penalty the top five was now; Skinner leading, Sauter second, Scott third, Almirola fourth and Malsam fifth.

On the Lap 159 restart, Skinner would take the green make the same move Hornaday did with Crafton but to Sauter and without anyone being dumped.

Skinner would open up a couple truck length lead on Sauter come around take the white flag and Crafton has made it back to sixth.

Skinner came around got the checkers for his third win of the season, his 28th career win and beat Sauter by 0.285 seconds.

Skinner would get the checkers, salute the fans with a victory burnout and head to victory lane.

By the team's celebration they knew they were the benefactor of Crafton's stupidity.

Skinner had the following comments post race to say and after first thanking his sponsors, crew, and wife Angie.

"I don't believe it," Skinner said.

"I have to applaud NASCAR [for black-flagging Crafton]. You just can't wreck the leader to win the race."

"I've been on NASCAR about it. I've been on officials about it. I chose not to do it this year twice to Ron Hornaday. I raced him clean, and I think [Saturday] it came back and paid dividends for me. We had about a second-place truck."

Johhny Sauter finished second, collected his third top five finish in a row and his eighth Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors.

Brian Scott finished third, what a hard fought impressive finish by him after a rough start to the race and he picked up a position in the points.

Aric Almirola finished fourth, he ran another great race and collected his seventh straight top-10 finish.

Tayler Malsam finished fifth, collected another hard fought finish, battled his truck most of the race handling wise and got another great finish in his rookie season.

Six through 10th was; Matt Crafton, Timothy Peters, Stacy Compton, Ryan Sieg, and Rick Crawford.

Ron Hornaday Jr. would be scored in 17th place, six laps down to the leader, and lead 116 laps.

The points now have Hornaday still leading by 197 points over Crafton in second and 213 over Skinner in third.

The next race is: Sept. 19: The Heluva Good! 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway at 2:30PM the Set-Up Show and 3:00PM Race Time (Saturday).

In closing it will be an interesting week. Will NASCAR penalize Crafton further by docking him points and money and will their be any repercussion with KHI no longer providing Thorsport Racing trucks.

We'll have to wait and see. Should NASCAR review the video, listen to Speed's interview with Crafton.

Most definitely, I would be penalize Crafton points at least and probation till seasons end. Because he'll just do it again, he's proven it throughout his career.

The source for this article was my race notes, any mistakes were my own. The Skinner quotes are from racingone.com and used jayski.com as a resource to correctly place the caution flags and who got the Aaron's Lucky Dog Awards.