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NASCAR Cup: Matt Crafton returns to victory lane at Kansas

KANSAS CITY, KANSAS – JULY 25: Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series e.p.t 200 at Kansas Speedway on July 25, 2020 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Reigning NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series champion Matt Crafton claimed his first series win since 2017 and his first on asphalt since 206 on Saturday when the took the checkered flag in the E.P.T. 200, the second of a two-race doubleheader weekend at Kansas Speedway.

“It’s very, very sweet. Not a lot of give up in these guys,” Crafton said. “The 18 (Christian Eckes) had a little bit of speed; he was making me nervous right there. I drove it in too deep a couple times, slid the nose. I’d slide the nose, and he’d make up ground.”

Christian Eckes finished second, and Grant Enfinger was third. Tanner Gray posted his first-career top-five finish, fourth, and Crafton and Enfinger’s teammate Ben Rhodes rounded out the top-five to give ThorSport Racing three trucks inside the top-five of the finishing order.

After the yellow flag waved only once for an on-track incident in the first 60 laps of the 134-lap race, for a Bryan Dauzat spin on lap 43, the yellow flag waved six times in the final 74-lap stage.

The last of those cautions came on lap 108 for Sheldon Creed. When the race restarted on lap 113, Crafton took the lead from Austin Hill and Eckes moved into second, and the two drivers ran first and second the remaining distance.

“I thought I got a little tight, but I got a hole in the nose and just got tight behind him (Crafton),” Eckes said. “Overall, just what a comeback for our Safelite Tundra team. We sucked yesterday. I can’t sugar coat it; we were terrible. Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) and the guys worked really, really hard last night and this morning to get it better. We still started the race a little bit off, but the truck came to us and was perfect at the end. I just got a little tight behind him. I was good in one corner and not the other. Just need to get back to the lab and get a little better, I guess.”

The largest crash among the attrition-filled second half of the race came on a lap 83 restart. The seven-truck wreck included, among others, Stewart Friesen and a fourth ThorSport driver, Johnny Sauter.

Zane Smith dominated the first half of the race. Forty-seven of his race-high 50-laps led came in the first 60 laps and included stage wins on laps 30 and 60. After Eckes took the lead on the opening laps and ran up front for the first six laps, Smith took his first lead on lap seven and led the remainder of the opening stage.

After the first stage, Rhodes and Hill were up front to restart for the second stage after two-tire piet stops. Hill led the first green-flag laps of the stage before Smith reassumed the lead on lap 41 and, again, ran up front for the remainder of stage two.

Friesen restarted up front for the final stage after taking no tires on a pit stop, but when the race returned to green, he fell back through the field, and Moffitt took the lead and Creed the second position.

Moffitt and Creed battled back and forth for the lead, with Creed taking the position just before the rash of late-race cautions began with a Travis Pastrana spin on lap 73.

Creed, Moffitt, Tanner Gray and Hill all led laps through varying pit strategies and restarts until Crafton, ultimately, took his race-winning lead.

Hill finished sixth, Derek Kraus was seventh, Brandon Jones eighth, Smith ninth, and pole sitter Chase Purdy rounded out the top-10.

Below, is the complete finishing order of the E.P.T. 200 at Kansas Speedway:

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Posted by on July 25, 2020. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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