In A Nutshell: Rick Crawford won the fifth race of his career and his first since last September at New Hampshire Friday night at O’Reilly Raceway Park. With 32 laps remaining, Crawford was victorious in a four truck battle for the lead that squeezed Mike Bliss up into the wall and put the 14 truck out front to stay. Two cautions in the last 15 laps of the race put Dennis Setzer and Ron Hornaday in position to make a run for the lead, but fortunately for Crawford, he nailed both restarts and went on to finish 10 car lengths ahead of Setzer. Ron Hornaday, David Starr and Mike Bliss rounded out the Top 5.
Who Should Have Won: Crawford. Crawford started 3rd and remained in the Top 5 for the majority of the night. Leading laps for the first time in his career at ORP, none of the other contenders had anything to touch Crawford and the 14 truck during the race’s final segment.
Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend
1) Should Erin Crocker have been given the “Lucky Dog” pass after bringing out the caution early in the race?
NASCAR’s “Lucky Dog” rule has a clause that says if a driver brings out a caution, he/she is not eligible to receive the Lucky Dog that time around. That wasn’t the case Friday night, when contact with leader David Ragan sent Crocker up the track and into the outside wall. With minor damage on the right side after scraping the wall and a little left front damage, Crocker was allowed to pass the field and start up front as the lucky dog recipient. The problem is, that goes against NASCAR’s rule. The Lucky Dog simply is not supposed to be the person that caused the caution…Erin Crocker included.
2) How did Matt Crafton not get hit in the smoke on the track?
Matt Crafton was racing in the middle of a three-wide pack when he was forced to back off after running out of room in the middle. When he tried to move back inside, the lapped truck of Robert Turner and Jack Sprague got into the back of Crafton, sending him spinning in front of nearly 20 trucks. The number 88 Chevy nearly collected Ted Musgrave as it spun down the track, and with the amount of smoke left after the spin, it’s amazing everyone made it through with no damage. Crafton later battled back into the Top 5, but faded late and had to settle for a 20th place finish.
3) Can Rick Crawford pull off an upset and win the championship?
Prior to Friday night’s race, Crawford and his team had moved their number 14 truck from 14th to 4th in points in just 9 weeks. With a win Friday night, Crawford moved up another spot into third, only 5 points behind second place Johnny Benson. Just a few weeks back, we were talking about Benson and his back-to-back wins which propelled him solidly into the Top 5. Now, it looks like Rick Crawford’s team is unstoppable. As long as Todd Bodine continues to run consistently, Crawford doesn’t have much of a chance, but if Bodine starts to struggle, never count out the 14 team.
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:
Never in the history of Craftsman Truck Series racing at O’Reilly Raceway Park has a driver won from a starting position outside the Top 5. Crawford continued that tradition Friday night from his third starting spot.
Friday night broke another Craftsman Truck Series record with 11 cautions. Even with all the yellow flags, though, only four drivers did not finish the race Friday night, and 22 trucks finished on the lead lap.
As for the seasonlong standings, Todd Bodine still holds the points lead, now 182 points over Johnny Benson. David Reutimann dropped from 2nd back to 4th after a wreck on Friday night, while six drivers in the Top 10 gained a points position, sending Jack Sprague back 11th afer a 28th place finish. 31 trucks are still “mathematically eligible” to win the championship, but realistically, the top four are the only trucks with a good chance of moving into the lead.
“You know, I tell you what…I’ve been listening to Carl Edwards after he wins some races. Nah, I ain’t gonna do a backflip. I’m on social security, so I can’t do a backflip. Nah, I’m just kidding. I feel younger than ever. When Carl Edwards says ‘Hey, that was a blast,’ I know exactly what he means right now. Congratulations to Dennis and Ron for running a great race behind me. This Circle Bar Truck Corral race team…great job. Couldn’t have asked for more. You know what this race is for? This race is for everybody that’s turned a wrench or given Rick Crawford a dollar.” Rick Crawford on his win
“There was absolutely nothing wrong with how this team was running the first part of this season. But sometimes, you need to stir the pot up and make some changes, and that’s just what we did. We moved Randy Goss over, and he called a great race from the pit box here tonight. It was nice to be up front and be a factor here tonight, and it’s hopefully a sign of things to come the rest of the season.” Dennis Setzer on team moves
Up Next: The Craftsman Trucks Series rolls in Nashville, Tennessee next weekend. Mike Skinner holds the qualifying record (set in 2005), and David Reutimann is the defending race winner. Television coverage starts Saturday night at 5:00 pm EST on SPEED, and you can also catch the race on your local MRN affiliate.
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