Matt Crafton Ends Winless Streak At Eldoraby Hunter Thomas July 20, 2017
ROSSBURG, Ohio – Matt Crafton ended a 27-race winless streak on Wednesday night after he held off Stewart Friesen in the Eldora Dirt Derby 150 at Eldora Speedway.
The last time that the two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion won a race dates all the way back to Charlotte Motor Speedway in May of last year. Prior to Wednesday, Crafton had only captured two top-five finishes in 10 races this season. Crafton won his heat race on Wednesday, and he led 24 laps in the main event en route to his first win of the season. The 41-year-old driver of the ThorSport Racing No. 88 IdealDoor/Menards Toyota will now compete in the Playoffs.
“This definitely wasn’t the one that I thought was going to put us in the playoffs without a doubt,” Crafton said. “I was looking to come in here and have a top five – a good solid top-five run. Yesterday was just good, it was really good, so we kept tuning on it and first run it was really good. Second run we tightened it up too much and Junior (Joiner, crew chief) was mad and throwing one of the Juniors, so we came in and made some adjustments and I made some adjustments out there on the race track. Kept searching and finally found something at the end.”
Stewart Friesen finished second in the No. 52 Halmar International Chevroelt. The runner-up finish on Wednesday was the Canadian native’s first top-five finish in the series. He had 14 starts prior to Wednesday, and he entered the weekend coming off a 12th-place finish at Kentucky Speedway. Friesen won his heat race and led a race high of 93 laps in the main event.
Chase Briscoe, Gran Enfinger and John Hunter Nemechek rounded out the top-five. Completing the top-10 was last chance qualifying race winner Bobby Pierce, Noah Gragson, Justin Haley, Christopher Bell and Austin Cindric.
Throughout the 150-lap race, there were seven lead changes among four drivers.
There were also 10 cautions for 59 laps. While many drivers found Eldora Speedway to be challenging, few people thought that Christopher Bell would struggle. On lap 37, the veteran dirt racer spun all by his self in Turn 2, and with nowhere to go, Kaz Grala ran into the side of Bell’s Toyota. The accident ended Grala’s night, but Bell fought back for a solid ninth-place finish.
“First off, I got to say I ruined it for my guys man,” Bell said. “They gave me a great Tundra. I really felt like we had the truck to win there, but unfortunately I made a mistake early on that cost us. My guys worked really hard to get us going again and then we got going really good and the truck seemed like it was driving good enough – we had a lot of speed, just miscalculated there on the spin. The lap before I had a lot of grip up in the cushion and it held me really good, so I tried to make speed up there and was just a little bit too low in the slick and spun out. The flat tire really killed us.”
Johnny Sauter currently leads the series standings by seven points over Bell.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will visit Pocono Raceway on Saturday, July 29 for the Overton’s 150. Live coverage of the race will broadcast on FOX and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 1 p.m. ET.
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