In a Nutshell: Kyle Busch took the checkered flag 0.338 seconds ahead of Brad Keselowski to win Friday night’s EnjoyIllinois.com 225 at Chicagoland Speedway. Busch led six times for a race-high 52 laps en route to his fourth victory in eight starts. Ryan Blaney, Matt Crafton and Ty Dillon rounded out the top 5.
Who Should Have Won: This race could have gone either way since Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski both showed their strengths throughout the night. The pair engaged in an impressive side-by-side battle for the lead for several laps, swapping the top spot multiple times. Busch and Keselowski combined to lead 102 of 150 laps.
Did you miss the race? In this section of Tracking the Trucks, you’ll find the major storylines that went on all in one place.
Crafton Continues to Prove Championship Determination
After losing ground in the championship battle for the last few weeks, Matt Crafton came into Chicagoland Speedway looking to reassert himself and show everyone that he’s not going down without a fight. Though he struggled early on, the No. 88 team worked hard throughout the race, making adjustments and helping improve the handling of the truck. Those changes worked as Crafton found himself inside the top 5 as the laps wound down. He posted a solid fourth-place result and gained just a couple points back in the championship standings. And despite the solid finish, Crafton knows he’s capable of more.
“I’m not happy with just finishing in the top-10, for sure — not with the guys I’ve got working around me. I’d be happy with finishing in the top-five, but definitely still not satisfied — without a doubt (because) I know this team, we can put some Ws (wins) in the left column,” Crafton said. “This team I’ve got never, ever thinks about giving up,” Crafton said. “So at the end of the day we’ve got to race smart for right now. But, if there’s three (races) to go, two to go — and we have that points (lead) — you’re going to see a different Matt Crafton.”
As the weeks go on, Crafton looks more and more invincible in this championship battle, and though he’d lost some points to James Buescher in the previous weeks, a solid top-5 finish is a good reminder that Crafton could be the guy to beat this year. I’m willing to say that if the driver of the No. 88 Toyota can come out of Talladega Superspeedway next month with his lead intact, he’s the one that will come out on top when the checkered flag flies over Homestead in November.
- Brennan Newberry’s No. 24 Chevrolet was on the track, but he wasn’t driving on Friday night. Having been hospitalized for an intestinal infection brought on by food poisoning, NTS Motorsports tapped Austin Dillon to fill in. Dillon practiced the truck and qualified in tenth for the race. Newberry was released from the hospital in time to watch the race in which Dillon brought home a solid seventh-place finish. I’ve seen a few people make statements indicating that Newberry shouldn’t be racing since Dillon was able to run well for much of the night and finish inside the top 10, but what those people forget is that Newberry is a rookie, while Dillon has nearly four years worth of racing in NASCAR. Only time will tell if the young driver has what it takes to continue to work his way up the ladder, but that time is definitely not now.
- Without making a whole lot of noise on the track for much of the night, John Wes Townley scored a career-best sixth-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway. Though he started 16th, the driver of the No. 7 Zaxby’s Toyota worked his way inside the top 10 before the halfway mark and stayed there for the remainder of the race. His previous best finish was seventh at Michigan earlier this year.
- With just a handful of races remaining in the EnjoyIllinois.com 225, Brendan Gaughan looked poised to post his first top-5 finish since Eldora Speedway in July, but it wasn’t meant to be for the No. 62 Richard Childress Racing team. Suffering from overheating issues, Gaughan was forced to give up the fourth spot to head down pit road twice in hopes of fixing the problem to finish the final ten laps
Truck Rookie Report
2013 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Ryan Blaney (No. 29)
Jeb Burton (No. 4)
Brennan Newberry (No. 14)
German Quiroga, Jr. (No. 77)
Ryan Truex (No. 30)
Darrell Wallace, Jr. (No. 54)
No. of Rookies in the Race: 9 (add Ben Kennedy, Jimmy Weller, Justin Jennings, Danny Efland and JJ Yeley)
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 2; Ryan Blaney, finished third; Jeb Burton, finished ninth
Rookie of the Race: Ryan Blaney
“I am very proud of these BKR guys, my Cooper Standard Ford was super fast, but just didn’t have enough for the leaders during the final run. We continue to bring awesome stuff to the track and it will pay off soon for these guys who work so hard to get me up front each race. I can’t wait to get to Vegas and give it another shot on that mile-and-a-half in a couple of weeks.” Ryan Blaney, finished third
“We just can’t catch a break. We had the best truck tonight and I really thought we could finish the night with a visit to victory lane. We really needed luck in the pits tonight and unfortunately, things didn’t go our way. I’m still proud of my team. We didn’t go down without a fight. We raced and we raced hard.” Jeb Burton, finished ninth
“I would like to thank everyone at Turner Scott Motorsports for working so hard and giving me a great truck tonight. I had so much fun out there battling and learning my way around Chicagoland. We battled with a tight truck in Turns 3 and 4, but my guys made great adjustments all night and I think it really helped us on the long run. I will go back and talk to my crew chief Chris Carrier and continue to learn. I am looking forward to making my next Truck Series start.” Ben Kennedy, finished 16th
Each week we’ll take a look at the championship picture and find out which drivers were affected the most by the racing on track.
Biggest Winner: Last week, Ryan Blaney got busted by NASCAR for slowing on the track during a caution and lost his track position when he was dropped back to tenth. But this week, he recovered, running inside the top 5 for most of the race before settling into a solid third-place finish. That was enough to move him up two spots in the standings to fifth, just 12 points behind fellow rookie Jeb Burton.
Biggest Loser: After qualifying 18th, Timothy Peters made some impressive moves through traffic, but on lap 101, Peters slid up the track into Ryan Sieg. The contact turned the No. 17 Toyota head-on into the outside wall, wrecking the front end with terminal damage. Peters was relegated to a 27th-place finish and dropped two spots in the standings to seventh. He now sits 97 markers behind the leader and 15 outside the top 5.
Points Update: Matt Crafton still holds onto the top spot, now 41 markers ahead of James Buescher. Ty Dillon remains in third, 59 points out of the lead. Rookies Jeb Burton and Ryan Blaney round out the top 5. Miguel Paludo remains sixth, just one marker behind Blaney, and Timothy Peters, who dropped two positions sits seventh. Johnny Sauter, Darrell Wallace, Jr. and Brendan Gaughan round out the top 10.
“We didn’t have the speed on the short run, but on the long runs, we had a really, really good truck. It’s been fun. It’s a great win for this team. This team really deserves. (Crew chief) Rudy (Fugle) and the guys have worked really hard. We tried some things in practice today. A couple worked, so maybe we can take those to a few other places later this year.” Kyle Busch
“What a heck of a run we had tonight in the Draw-Tite Ford F-150. I could not be happier with my team for all the effort they showed tonight. We are running very strong and continue to make positive improvements race to race. This team deserves to be in victory lane and I know it will happen for them soon.” Brad Keselowski, finished second
“I’m glad we could bring home a fifth-place finish tonight. We battled a tight-handling condition all night. It was a lot worse on long green flag runs, but the Bass Pro Shops team never gave up. I hope we can continue this momentum and turn these top fives into wins before the season ends.” Ty Dillon, finished fifth
Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series takes a weekend off before heading to Las Vegas Motor Speedway Saturday, September 28th. Last season, Nelson Piquet, Jr. made a last-lap pass on Matt Crafton to score his second win of the year. The Smith’s 350 will be televised on live FOX Sports 1 beginning at 8:30 PM ET; it can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiriusXM Channel 90.
©2000 - 2008 Beth Lunkenheimer and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!