Matt Crafton Ends Winless Drought At Eldora

Matt Crafton was able to end his winless drought at Eldora Speedway on Wednesday night. It has been over a year since the No. 88 team has won a race. It all started with qualifying, however.

Crafton won the second heat race, which put him on the outside pole. Alongside him was dirt track veteran, Stewart Friesen, who won the first heat race.

Forty laps made up Stage 1, while 50 laps made up the second stage and 60 laps wound up the final stage.

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When Stage 1 began, it was action packed early as favorite Bobby Pierce spun out on the backstretch, involving JJ Yeley and Chris Windom.

On lap 18, the second caution was brought out again as Sheldon Creed went around and caused a huge pile up in Turn 3. Numerous drivers were involved including Norm Benning, Pierce, Harrison Burton, Johnny Sauter, Ben Rhodes, Rico Abreu, Ryan Truex and Austin Cindric.

Shortly after the restart on lap 32, a caution came out for Christopher Bell and Kaz Grala, who collided with each other off Turn 2. Grala, with heavy damage, was done for the night. As for Bell, he had major right side damage but was able to get back into the race.

After several caution laps, NASCAR decided to end the first stage under caution, thus giving Matt Crafton the win in Stage 1.

As Stage 2 took off on lap 40, it was a bit quieter but still, action packed. Just two laps after the restart, a spin by Rhodes, Korbin Forrister and Max Johnston brought out the fourth caution.

Before the end of Stage 2, there were two more cautions involving Creed on lap 67 and on lap 84 for Ray Ciccarelli spinning on the frontstretch after contact with Creed.  Stewart Friesen went on to win Stage 2.

After pitting for a flat tire, Friesen was able to retain the lead on the restart with 59 laps to go as the third and final stage began. Bell took the lead a lap later and held on until 37 to go, where Friesen retook the lead. However, the pace was slowed again, as Ty Dillon had a flat right front tire go down with 33 to go.

A few laps after a restart with 25 to go, Bell pitted for a flat tire and once more, another caution was brought for Ciccarelli.

Crafton was able to take the lead with 16 to go and held on from there to end his winless drought dating back to June of 2016 at Charlotte.

“My first dirt win,” Crafton said. “A lot of fun. In the second part of the race, we darn right just stunk. It was my fault, we over-tightened it on the first run, we were pretty good. I thought we were a little bit too free, so we just tightened up and went back to the way we started the race. At the end, I had to either tear up the right side  off or take it to victory lane.”

Friesen, Chase Briscoe, Grant Enfinger and John Hunter Nemechek rounded out the top five. Johnny Sauter’s points lead is now down to seven points over second place Bell.

This was Crafton’s 13th career Truck Series win and his first of the 2017 season.

Crafton led twice for 24 laps.

There were four leaders among 15 lead changes, as well as, 10 cautions for 59 laps.

Next Up: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series head east for Pocono International Raceway on Saturday, July 29.


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