Matt Crafton Wins Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Matt Crafton overtook Daniel Suarez on the 59th lap of the Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 and never looked back. Crafton, last year's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, cruised the final 71 laps to claim his sixth career victory.
Crafton was one of five different leaders in the 130-lap race and pulled away from the field down the stretch in a 74-lap green-flag run, the longest stretch in a Camping World Truck Series race at Atlanta, to finish off the win.
"Whew. This Menards Toyota Tundra was fast, fast," said Crafton. "I was really, really disappointed in qualifying. It didn't have a whole lot of single-lap speed by itself, but I knew once they dropped the green flag and this thing took off and we ran three laps, I'm like, 'we've got something for these boys, they're in trouble today.'"
A favorite track for Crafton, the significance of a trip to Victory Lane at Atlanta Motor Speedway was not lost on his crew chief, Carl Joiner Jr.
"A couple of weeks ago, I said, 'we won Texas, we won Martinsville, Daytona's great and all, but there's so much prestige here,'" said Joiner Jr. "I mean, as a little kid watching the Atlanta Journal 500 on Sundays with my dad, I'm just so pumped. I'm so proud of these guys. We're in Victory Lane in Atlanta and we put it on 'em."
Ty Dillon, the last to win a trucks race at Atlanta, finished a distant second, 8.752 seconds behind Crafton.
Ben Kennedy was the eventual pole sitter and ran a consistent race to finish third. He led just the race's first lap but ran near the front all day after a disappointing opening season race last week. Daniel Suarez finished fourth, and Tyler Reddick, last week's Camping World Truck Series winner in Daytona rounded out the top-5.
"It feels like a win, especially after last week," said Kennedy, who was caught up in a pileup last week in Daytona and recorded a DNF. "I love Atlanta."
Brad Keselowski originally was declared the pole winner in Saturday morning's qualifying, but later it was determined he didn't actually start his Round 3 lap in time and was slotted 10th in the lineup.
Keselowski jumped up to fourth within the first seven laps and grabbed second coming out of a caution just a few laps later.
Soon after, he wrested the lead from Jones but stayed at the front for just six laps. Keselowski's position began to drop precipitously and he had to pit for new tires. That, combined with the timing of another caution, left him off the lead lap and Keselowski never recovered to finish 15th.
Atlanta Motor Speedway's NASCAR weekend wraps up Sunday with the Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 with a green flag start at 1 p.m.