The Frontstretch: Tracking the Trucks: Ford EcoBoost 200 by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Monday November 18, 2013

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Tracking the Trucks: Ford EcoBoost 200

Beth Lunkenheimer · Monday November 18, 2013


In a Nutshell: Kyle Busch took the checkered flag 0.081 seconds ahead of Ryan Blaney to win the Ford EcoBoost 200 Friday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway. After trading the lead multiple times, the driver of the No. 51 Toyota officially took the top spot for the final time (lead changes counted at the start/finish line) with 32 laps remaining en route to his 35th career Truck Series victory. Jeb Burton, Brendan Gaughan and Ron Hornaday, Jr. rounded out the top five.

Who Should Have Won: Depending on which part of the race you watched, there were a number of drivers that looked like they had the truck to beat. Ryan Blaney likely had the strongest truck, especially early in the event when he pulled out to nearly five seconds ahead of the field. But as the race wore on, the battles for the lead became closer and closer, with several drivers swapping the lead during fantastic side-by-side battles. In the end, it was Busch who bested the competition after two rookies — Ryan Blaney and Jeb Burton — smacked the outside wall trying to catch him.

News & Notes:

Crafton Clinches Championship

It was no secret when the green flag flew that Matt Crafton had clinched the 2013 championship, and having the championship wrapped up probably allowed for better coverage of the rest of the race. However, there was still one more championship the No. 88 team wanted to bring home — the owners’ title. Heading into Homestead with a 23-point advantage over the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51, it wouldn’t have taken much for ThorSport to bring home both titles.

But after a rather impressive race with several side-by-side battles for position, Crafton’s No. 88 Menard’s Toyota suffered damage in the first of three green-white-checkered attempts. Despite having tried to repair the truck as much as possible, Crafton struggled just to bring his crippled truck home, falling to an eventual 21st-place finish, his worst of the season.

“I thought we had a shot at winning the race — we just had a bad pit stop, got hung back there, and got in a wreck,” Crafton said. “It’s so disgusting. But all in all, I’m the Camping World Truck Series champion. Nobody can take that away, right?

Kyle Busch, who was piloting the KBM No. 51 on Friday night, won the race and brought his self-owned truck into a tie with the ThorSport No. 88. The resulting tie-breaker based on wins gave KBM the edge.

“It means a lot to Kyle Busch Motorsports and it means a lot to myself and my wife [team co-owner Samantha Busch], but most importantly, every one of our employees — everyone at the shop, everyone back at home, everyone here with us tonight,” Busch said. “This is so much fun to come out here and race for one, but to win races for two and contend for owner’s championships. It’s big for us.”

Five drivers — Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Chad Hackenbracht, Denny Hamlin and Scott Bloomquist — combined to help the organization bring home its second owners’ championship in three years.

Reddick to Pilot BKR No. 19 in 2014

Brad Keselowski Racing announced Saturday morning that the organization had signed Tyler Reddick to pilot the No. 19 Ford beginning next year. Reddick will compete in at least 15 events during the 2014 season before moving to a full-time schedule in 2015.

“Tyler caught my eye at the Rockingham NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race in November of 2012. I continued to follow his progress and he definitely made a positive impression on me and our competition staff at BKR,” team owner Brad Keselowski said. “We’re pleased to be able to bring Tyler into the program that, with the support of the BBR Music Group, Ford, and long-time BKR partners Cequent and Cooper Standard, has a very solid foundation to compete for wins and championships in the coming seasons. We look forward to helping develop Tyler into a championship-caliber driver and ultimately seeing him progress within NASCAR.”

Reddick began racing at the age of four in Outlaw Karts and has since competed in mini sprints, 410 sprint cars, super late models, the Late Model Dirt Series, K&N Pro Series, and other NASCAR development series.

“I’m thrilled to be joining Brad and BKR in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series,” Reddick said. “As Brad is one of the young champion superstars in the sport today, I am confident I can learn a lot from him not just from a driving and competition standpoint, but also how to build a team around me and engage with sponsors and the media at the NASCAR level. I have no doubt that this is going to be a tremendous experience as I look to progress within the sport.”

Quick Hits

- Matt Crafton became the 13th Truck Series champion in his 13th full-time season. He was also the first driver in the history of the series to complete every single lap of competition. Travis Kvapil completed all but one in his 2003 championship season. This championship is crew chief Carl Joiner’s first; his previous best finish was sixth last season with Crafton.

- ThorSport Racing has fielded at least one truck in 409 races, including a stretch of 391 consecutive starts beginning at Walt Disney World Speedway in January 1998. Both are series records. Duke and Rhonda Thorson fielded their first truck for Terry Cook at the Milwaukee Mile in July, 1996

- You have to wonder if Bob Newberry might be wishing he’d let Ron Hornaday, Jr. finish out the season behind the wheel of the No. 9 Chevrolet. Nelson Piquet, Jr., who ran a one-off with NTS Motorsports on Friday night, complained of potential engine troubles early before he got caught up in the fifth caution when Spencer Gallagher spun right in front of him. The damage proved terminal and Piquet was forced to settle for a 31st-place finish. Meanwhile, Hornaday brought home a fifth-place result behind the wheel of the No. 34 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Chevrolet fielded by Turner Scott Motorsports.

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: 12 (add Spencer Gallagher, Ben Kennedy, D.J. Kennington, Mason Mingus, Frank Kimmel, B.J. McLeod and Jimmy Weller)

No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 3; Ryan Blaney, finished second; Jeb Burton, finished third; German Quiroga, finished seventh

Rookie of the Race: Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney also won the Rookie of the Year honors, becoming the youngest driver in the history of the series to win the award.

Final 2013 Standings

Position Driver Points Behind
1 Matt Crafton 804
2 Ty Dillon 764 -40
3 James Buescher 761 -43
4 Johnny Sauter 732 -72
5 Jeb Burton 731 -73
6 Ryan Blaney 726 -78
7 Brendan Gaughan 717 -87
8 Darrell Wallace, Jr. 704 -100
9 Miguel Paludo 697 -107
10 Timothy Peters 683 -121


I knew those guys behind us were creeping up, creeping up with those fresh tires. We worked hard all season long and everyone on this Kyle Busch Motorsports team deserves all the credit. They work so hard every week, all year long — we’ve had a lot of the same employees, but we’ve had a lot of new employees. The 51 team with Erik Jones winning last week — he gave us the saving grace to come into this week and have a chance and I can’t say enough about him. Chad Hackenbracht for being on board with us this year and doing the results that he did and of course there’s one other one I’m missing — (Scott) Bloomquist, he was there too at the dirt race. It’s just a testament to this team and what they’re made of and everyone from Toyota Care, Toyota, TRD (Toyota Racing Development) — everyone makes this possible for us. We hope to do it again next year.” Race Winner Kyle Busch

“Overall a strong showing and season for my Cooper Standard team. I wish I didn’t get into the wall, because we had something for the No. 51 tonight. We’ve come a long way all year, and I’m thrilled to be a part of Brad Keselowski’s organization. I am looking forward to working with these guys in the off-season to build on where we left off for 2014.” Ryan Blaney

“That felt good. That was one of the most fun races I’ve ever been in. It felt so good to be competitive and fight for the lead. My team gave me an awesome truck to work with tonight and I couldn’t let our season end on a mediocre note. I’ve got the hardest working group of guys out there and I couldn’t be more grateful for everything they’ve done for me, as well as my sponsor, Arrowhead. We’ve exceeded every goal I set for our team at the beginning of the year. I can’t wait to get back in this truck next year with more experience and compete for that championship. I think we’re already ready for Daytona after tonight.” Jeb Burton, finished third

“This was a disappointing finish for the South Point Hotel & Casino team. We had a truck that could have won the race, but Kyle (Busch) beat us on the final three restarts and then Ryan (Blaney) tried to push me at the end, but almost wrecked me so I had to settle for a fourth-place result. My team worked hard today and all season, just wish we could have gotten a win for them tonight.” Brendan Gaughan

Up Next: Before the off-season officially gets under way, drivers will head to Loews Miami Beach Hotel for the combined Nationwide and Truck series banquet on Monday evening. It will air on a tape delay on Monday, Nov. 24 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
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©2000 - 2008 Beth Lunkenheimer and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

11/18/2013 09:38 AM

Really exciting season with a really deserving champion at the end. Can’t wait for 2014. Go Crafton!

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