NASCAR’s very first night race at Kansas Speedway was held Friday night in the Camping World Truck Series, a race that will never be remembered as boring or uneventful. No less than nine cautions slowed the field for a total of 40 laps, just three short of the track record for the Camping World Truck Series with Kyle Busch eventually pulling through as the winner.
The SFP 250 was only the third race in 11 weeks for the Camping World Truck Series, which may have added to the antsy atmosphere in the garage. A track with less grip than normal, a new tire compound, and a host of inexperienced drivers in the field, perhaps a garage full of bent sheet metal and aggravated drivers should have been expected.
With 13 trucks involved in nine different accidents, it begged the question … why so many cautions? Was it the new night race? The inexperience? Or something else?
“I think the wrecks you saw tonight was just everybody not being ready for what these things feel like aero-wise,” Busch. “They’re different than what last year’s body felt. I think this was a rude awakening for everyone and it’s gonna be like that going into Charlotte too.”
“It’s unfortunate,” he continued. “You always want to try and make improvements to the vehicles and try and help them be better aerodynamically in traffic and what-not. But the trucks are definitely not any better than they used to be. In fact, I think they might be worse and I think that’s why you saw so many guys not quite ready for what ‘evilness’ they had in store for them tonight.”
As it stands, it appears a mixture of inexperience and the aero-behavior of the trucks contributed heavily to many of the wrecks. For instance, while racing for the lead with teammate Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney made a pass underneath for the lead. The two trucks were door-to-door and the air disturbance spun Blaney’s truck around. As Blaney spun down the backstretch, Tyler Young and Johnny Sauter were unable to slow down in time and made heavy contact with Blaney’s No. 29. Though Blaney blamed Logano more for the incident, the replay shows that it was moreso just an incident of the two of them racing for the same part of the track.
Even with the multiple wrecks and damaged trucks, however, the racing was still exciting. There was plenty of up-front and mid-pack battles that appeared to be covered well by the cameras and it wasn’t a runaway race by Busch or Logano like many expected it to be. In fact, even though Busch led far and away the most laps (104 of the 167 laps), both Logano and Austin Dillon were frontrunners for multiple laps while drivers like Blaney and Crafton made multiple attempts at the lead. The fans got their money’s worth—both at home and at the track—and it appears that Kansas Speedway and NASCAR made the right call in moving the race to nighttime.
That doesn’t mean it was all fun and games for the competitors, though.
“These things are a handful,” said Crafton. “In these things, when you’re side-by-side and they shut the right-side air off, they are ridiculous how loose they are. This track has so much grip and the tire is so hard, you think you can run it wide-open … and that gets a lot of people in trouble.”
Crafton finished second to Busch while Logano had to settle for third. A struggle for track position might have meant a different ending to that story, but Busch was too strong for either of them to catch.
Regardless, though, it looks like the inaugural Camping World Truck Series night race was a success in terms of the action, but perhaps not so much for the fab shops this week. If the track can find some balance between great racing and limited cautions, though, Kansas might become one of the more exciting races on the schedule.
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