Crafton uses all 13 gallons to claim Texas victory

June 7, 2014 No Comments
Getty Images

Getty Images

 

Fuel was running low, but so were the laps.

Last year’s champion, Matt Craton was leading the race, and all of the closest competitors and former lap leaders were falling further and further behind. That’s because the previous leaders of the race, Ryan Blaney, Darrell Wallace Jr, and Ron Hornaday were all heading for pit road to fill their tanks to make sure that they would have enough to make it to the checkered flag.

“They said it was going to be close on fuel,” Matt Crafton said to Fox sports reporters after the race. “But damn, that was really close on fuel for us.”

While others pitted to get a few extra sips of Sunoco racing fuel for their trucks, Crafton stayed out on the track, at first laying down laps that rivaled the faster qualifying laps that were put on the board earlier in the day. As the final 22 laps continued to click off, Crafton eventually started to slow his pace to preserve the precious fuel that was in a tank that was rapidly going dry.

Five laps to go and Crafton’s lead was at over 10 seconds, he had 7.5 miles to go, on a tank of gas that, at best, was supposed to run out in two laps.

Three laps to go and Crafton’s day-glow yellow car streaked across the start/finish line if he saved enough he might just make it to the finish line, if not he’d sliently glide to a stop somewhere on the track. Either way, the decision had been made, there was no turning back now, Crafton and crew had made their choice to stay on the track.

The white flag flew indicating one lap to go, Crafton’s pace had slowed down and he was half-throttling his truck down the straightaways and letting the momentum carry him through the turns. Crafton’s lead was at 14 seconds, and he had gone an un-thought-of 64 laps on one tank of fuel.

Crafton crossed the finish line first, having somehow found a way to save enough fuel to make it to the end. The gamble had paid off, and for Crafton and crew, a sense of redemption fell over them.

“These guys are working hard,” said Carl Joiner Jr., the crew chief for Crafton, who chose to keep him out on the track for 65 laps. “Last week hurt a bit, but everyone has been working hard.”

Last weekend at Dover, Crafton’s race came to an abrupt end when his truck got out from under him and ended pinned up against the outside wall along the backstretch.

“This truck could go where ever I wanted it to, whenever I wanted it to,” Crafton said. “We had some awesome racing tonight, Goodyear brought us a great tire to use tonight.”

Crafton led the most laps on the night, as he led four times for 118 laps. He made the final pass for the lead with 40 laps to go when he went on the outside of Ron Hornaday to take the final lead of the night. All night long the racing was tough, as just about every lap featured at least one race for position.

Beside a battle with Hornaday for the lead, Crafton had to battle Ryan Blaneyfor the lead from the beginning. Both Blaney and Hornaday surrendered their chance for one last battle for the lead when they pitted with under ten laps to go.

Crafton took the points lead, and also, with the win Friday night, gathered his first multi-race win season of the year. The win also extended the points lead for Crafton.

The next race will come on Saturday June 14 from Gateway Motorsports Park, as the series makes a brief two week break from the other two NASCAR series.

WinStar World Casino 400 results:

1. Matt Crafton

2. Justin Lofton

3. Joe Nemechek

4. Ryan Blaney

5. John Wes Townley

6. Ron Hornaday Jr.

7. Johnny Sauter

8. Bryan Silas

9. Joey Coulter

10. Darrell Wallace Jr.

11. Erik Jones

12. Jeb Burton

13. Tayler Malsam

14. Ben Kennedy

15. Tyler Young

16. Brennan Newberry

17. Jimmy Weller

18. T.J. Bell

19. Mason Mingus

20. Jennifer Jo Cobb

21. Tyler Reddick

22. Norm Benning

23. German Quiroga

24. Timothy Peters

25. BJ McLeod

26. Justin Jennings

27.  Ryan Ellis

 

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