Wallace And Crafton Are Winners At Homestead

Ford EcoBoost 200 winner Darrell Wallace lets out a victory cheer upon receiving winner’s trophy. [Joe Jennings Photo]

Homestead, Fla. – Darrell “Bubba” Wallace and Matt Crafton were winners in the Ford EcoBoost 200 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday evening. The race marked the ending of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and the thrilling finish had the crowd on its feet throughout the 134-lap race on the 1.5-mile oval.

Barging to the front in the late going, Wallace led 28 of the final 32 laps to claim his fourth victory of the season in NCWTS action. To gain the win in the ToyotaCare Toyota fielded by Kyle Busch Motorsports, Wallace had to stave off the relentless charges of fast-qualifier Kyle Larson, Timothy Peters, Busch and Ryan Blaney.

The five drivers ran side-by-side and in tight formation, hounding the leader as the race neared its conclusion. At the checkered flag, Wallace held a .293-second margin over Larson, who gave it his all after dominating the opening 101 laps.

An errant pit stop may well have cost Larson the race. The rising star said he thought about making a banzai move at end similar to the one used on him at Phoenix by Ryan Newman, but elected not to do so.

Peters took third with Busch fourth and Blaney fifth. Blaney’s shift lever broke off during the race, and after his crew provided him with a vice-grip, he installed it, allowing him to shift exiting the pits.

Said the jubilant victor, “I watched film from last year, and from that I came up with a game plan for myself, came down here and tested. I felt happy with what we found out; we were missing a little bit. I told my guys we needed some changes and next thing you know, we were running up there. They never gave up on me and we stuck together. We didn’t have a shot at the title, but we wanted this race and we had to work for it. And we beat the boss. I had a lot of fun. This is our sweetest victory.”

Crafton motored to an eighth-place finish in a Toyota, giving him the NCWTS championship for the second year in a row. He became the first driver in series history to score consecutive-year championships, and he is the 13th different driver to win a NCWTS championship.

His point margin over runner-up Blaney was 21.

Said the champion, “Awesome (championship). To say I made history is definitely very, very cool, but it’s all about the guys that are behind me. Without them, I’m just an average race car driver at best. It’s all about the truck that these guys put underneath me each and every week. This Menards Toyota Tundra has been really — it’s been unbelievable to drive every week this year. I wanted to race so much harder tonight. I kept asking, I was just waiting for them to say that there were like 20 trucks running at that point and then I could go. When it was five (laps) to go and I had asked again how many trucks were still in and there were 22 on the lead lap and I said I couldn’t take any chances. I know I could have gone further forward, but I said it is what it is.”

Crafton finished the season with two wins, 13 top-five’s, 17 top 10s and an average finish of 7.0.

His Toyota Tundra is fielded by ThorSport Racing, which is owned by Duke and Rhonda Thorson.

Busch’s team captured the owner championship for the third time with Busch and upstart Erik Jones behind the wheel.

“It is a great milestone and a great accomplishment for us, as it is what we race for,” Busch said. “It wouldn’t be possible to do so without our partners Toyota and ToyotaCare. It is a true testament to all the hard work and dedication of our crew chief Eric Phillips, who does a phenomenal job at KBM as a leader. There are no greater moments than this one.”

Share Button