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Crafton successfully navigated a late-race round of green-flag pit stops and easily held off Kyle Busch to win Saturday’s rain-delayed N.C. Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway – his second consecutive victory in the NASCAR Truck Series.
The two-time Truck series champion has now earned 13 wins in his career. He is the first two-time winner in the series this season and has already all-but locked in a berth in the championship Chase.
Johnny Sauter finished third, Tyler Reddick was fourth and Matt Tifft ended up fifth. Crafton continues to lead the series standings, holding a 12-point lead over Timothy Peters, who finished seventh.
Crafton said he knew his No. 88 Toyota could contend for the win but he stumbled on his first two pit stops, leaving him fighting for track position much of the race.
“It just kept going and it kept going and I’m like, ‘My goodness, this thing is good.’ Then we ran that long run and we came in and I slid through the pit box,” Crafton said.
“I had to go all the way back I think to 19th again and drove back through them again. This truck was unbelievable on short run and long run.”
Daniel Suarez took the lead late in the race as he attempted to stretch his fuel mileage to the finish, but he eventually ran out of fuel and was forced to pit. Crafton inherited the lead with four of 134 laps remaining.
Crafton said it felt good to come out on top of Busch, the reigning Sprint Cup Series champion.
“He’s won a lot of races here (six) and anybody who can beat Kyle Busch in one of these Truck races, you’re doing something. And I definitely know that we beat him today.”
Busch appeared to have a truck capable of contending for the win but he was sent to the rear of the field following a mid-race pit stop when his pit crew was penalized for an uncontrolled tire.
Busch restarted 27th after the penalty and made up all but one of the positions by the finish.
“Once I got back in traffic, it just got super, super tight like it was laying on the splitter,” Busch said. “I don’t if something came out of place, or what.
“I’m proud of effort. We’ve got some work to do on this one to get it where we want to be. We’ve got to go back and do our homework.”
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