Race runner-up Matt Crafton said Joey Logano barreled into turn one on the last restart “like he was shot out of a cannon.”
Ducking to the inside with the accelerator mashed was the move Logano, the Coors Light Pole Award winner, had to make to vault from third to first and win Saturday’s Kroger 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway in an event that went eight circuits past its posted distance of 250 laps.
Logano led 150 laps in winning the first Camping World Truck Series race of his career and becoming the 26th driver to take a checkered flag in each of NASCAR’s top-three national touring series.
After Crafton led the field to green on lap 257, Logano and third-place finisher Erik Jones made a sandwich of Crafton’s No. 88 Toyota, and Logano squeezed his No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford through the first two corners into the lead. With a car set up for short runs, Logano was untouchable the rest of the way and arrived at the finish line with a .431-second advantage over the two-time defending series champion.
“I just had a great restart,” Logano said of the winning move. “The tires worked out well. I prepped them good down the back straightaway and made sure I had them clean enough. I got a good jump, a fourth-gear grab there, drove it in there and hope I got past him—and it was able to stick down there…
“It’s cool to say I’ve won in all three series now. It’s kind of special.”
Logano is the first driver to put a Ford truck in Victory Lane since Ricky Craven in 2005.
Crafton caused the caution that sent the race to overtime when he bumped Cole Custer’s No. 00 Chevrolet off turn four and sent him spinning on lap 248. Crafton’s tap was retaliation for an aggressive move on Custer’s part on lap 246, where Custer drove hard into turn one, knocked both Crafton and Logano out-of-the-way and took a short-lived lead.
But Crafton soon caught Custer and moved him out-of-the-way. With Custer’s Chevrolet sitting in the middle of the frontstretch, forcing NASCAR to call the ninth caution of the race, setting up the green-white-checkered-flag finish.
“I drove in too hard and couldn’t stop, and I hit ‘em a little too hard,” Custer said of the move that gave him the lead for two laps. “It worked, so I knew he (Crafton) was going to come back and nudge me a little bit. I was giving it everything I had to try and stay up there.”
In vain, as it turned out. Driving a truck fielded by JR Motorsports, Custer finished 16th after overcoming two pit road speeding penalties.
Crafton led 100 laps in his second-place effort and took the series lead from Tyler Reddick, who ran fifth. Reddick trails Crafton by two points through three events this season.
Johnny Sauter came home fourth, followed by Reddick, Daniel Suarez, James Buescher, John Wes Townley, Matt Tifft and Justin Boston.
Next up for NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series is Kansas Speedway on May 8th.