In a Nutshell: After finishing runner-up five times in the Camping World Truck Series, Brad Keselowski finally scored his win in his 62nd career start in the rain-delayed UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP on Thursday morning at Bristol Motor Speedway. Keselowski led three times for a race-high 119 laps en route to a 0.776 second victory over Darrell Wallace, Jr. Ron Hornaday, Jr., Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter rounded out the top 5.
Who Should Have Won: Keselowski and Kyle Busch were easily the class of the field, as they are in most races they enter. But it was the driver of the No. 19 Ford that took advantage of a late-race restart and a mishap by Busch, who rarely makes a mistake in the Truck Series, that managed to hold the top spot, despite a hard-charging Wallace, who kept pulling up to the leader as he negotiated lapped traffic.
Justin Boston Makes Truck Series Debut Venturini Motorsports and ARCA driver Justin Boston made their Truck Series debut on Thursday morning at Bristol Motor Speedway. Forced to qualify on speed in one of the few full fields this season, Boston scored a 27th-place starting position. Due to his starting spot and the blistering pace leaders Busch and Keselowski were setting, the driver of the No. 25 ZLOOP / Geekbox Speakers Toyota was in danger of going a lap down early. But some hard driving allowed Boston to keep his nose just ahead of then-leader Keselowski to remain on the lead lap as the competition caution flew at lap 50.
Having been given the chance to rejoin the back of the field, Boston actually worked his way inside the top 20 just a handful of laps later. But an incident involving John Wes Townley, Gray Gaulding and Brandon Jones pinched the debuting driver down into the inside wall. An innocent victim in the fourth and final caution of the day, Boston took his truck down pit road with what appeared to be only minor damage.
As it turned out, according to the Venturini Motorsports Twitter feed, the No. 25 Toyota suffered a broken lower control arm that put him behind the wall, something the Fox Sports 1 broadcast failed to comment on even though its cameras were trained on Boston’s truck as he drove back there. The broken part relegated Boston to a 30th-place finish and a DNF in his first start.
Had nowhere to go on that deal.. We never gave up and made gains all day. Proud of my @VenturiniMotor guys.
— Justin Boston (@jbossracing) August 21, 2014
The important thing for Boston to remember as he looks back on his Truck Series debut is that he was doing exactly what he needed to for his first time out. Though he would have liked to get a chance to run with the leaders and make something happen for the organization that has backed him so much in the last year and a half, Boston needed to just finish the race, while learning how his truck handled, and he most likely would have done that if he had had just a little more room to squeeze inside those wrecking ahead of him.
Along with the remainder of the ARCA Racing Series schedule, Boston and Venturini Motorsports have plans to run the WinStar World Casino 350K at Texas Motor Speedway, the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International and the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway later this season.
KBM Trucks Beat Themselves Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates Wallace and Busch shot themselves in the foot again this week. After both ran out of fuel at Michigan International Speedway, taking themselves out of contention, the duo over-drove their trucks trying to catch leader Keselowski late in the race. The driver of the No. 54 Toyota got loose late and barely scraped the wall, but his boss, Busch, hit the wall much harder, damage the left-rear corner and suffering a flat tire. The flat relegated the driver of the No. 51 Toyota to a 24th-place finish, six laps down. Meanwhile, Wallace managed to recover and make another run at the leader, thanks to lapped traffic in the closing circuits. But he got loose again and dropped back to nearly a second behind the eventual winner.
“I thought I was at Eldora and felt like (Kyle) Larson bouncing off the fence. Just a fine line – you get up in the marbles and it just sucks you right in,” Wallace said post-race. “It was a good day for KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports). We’ll build off this. Thanks to everybody involved – Toyota, Coca-Cola and everybody that makes this possible – the man upstairs for sure giving me this opportunity. We’ll go to Canada and figure out how to turn right and have some fun.”
The incidents suffered by both KBM trucks that were strong for most of the race mark back-to-back races where the organization actually looks vulnerable in a season where it’s clearly established itself as the team to beat. It’s nowhere near the end of the world for the team, and it will recover, but it takes out the invincibility factor that made the team seem almost untouchable earlier this year.
* Having taken several races off since Kentucky Speedway earlier this season, Ricky Benton Racing and Corey LaJoie returned at Bristol. After starting 21st, the driver of the No. 92 Ford escaped Bristol with a solid 10th-place run, his first top 10 in just two series starts.
* John Wes Townley returned to action, having missed two races following an ARCA crash at Pocono Raceway. After qualifying 23rd, Townley worked his way to right around the top 20 but was involved in a late-race accident. He ended up being credited with a DNF in 29th.
* Brad Keselowski and his father Bob became the first father-son duo to win in the Truck Series. Additionally, Brad became the 25th different driver to win in all three of NASCAR’s national touring series.
* Following post-race inspection, NASCAR announced that three trucks were found with issues. Cole Custer‘s No. 00 Chevrolet, Ron Hornaday, Jr.’s No. 30 Chevrolet and race winner Brad Keselowski’s No. 19 Ford were all found with rear spoilers that were too high. According to the series’ official Twitter page, “NASCAR will [the] discuss issue further next week.”
Truck Rookie Report
2014 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Tyler Young (No. 02)
Tyler Reddick (No. 19)
Ben Kennedy (No. 31)
Mason Mingus (No. 35)
No. of Rookies in the Race: 16 (add John Hunter Nemechek, Cole Custer, Ben Rhodes, Corey LaJoie, Jimmy Weller, Brandon Jones, Gray Gaulding, Jody Knowles, Jake Crum, B.J. McLeod, Blake Koch and debuting drivers Justin Boston and Bryan Dauzat)
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 4; John Hunter Nemechek, finished sixth; Cole Custer, finished eighth; Ben Rhodes, finished ninth; Corey LaJoie, finished tenth
Rookie of the Race: Tyler Young, finished 18th
Note: Only drivers declared for the Rookie of the Year are eligible for the Rookie of the Race awards.
“It was a lot of fun. We had a great truck today. It seemed like the longer we ran, the more it came in. Dad and I were talking quite a bit on the radio about what I needed to do, different lines and everything else. I can’t thank the guys enough for the truck they put together. It was fun racing here. We ended up better than I thought we might have because I didn’t think we had as good of a truck as we did. It’s pretty cool to race in the morning here. I had to call all of my teachers this morning to tell them I wasn’t going to make it because we were racing today.” John Hunter Nemechek, finished sixth
“Racing those K&N cars here is a lot of fun, but the trucks are a different experience. Getting a lap down isn’t fun, but that was probably the best thing for us getting to follow Kyle Busch and Keselowski. Those guys are fast here for a reason, they’ve done it a lot. It’s hard to compete with that, but when you get to follow them and learn from them, that’s when I picked up a lot of speed and made my way back up. I just need pit road practice now.” Ben Rhodes, finished ninth
“Well, that definitely wasn’t the finish we were looking for coming in to this race at Bristol. I really think we had a quick No. 33 Chevrolet and would’ve been able to run around the top 10 if we didn’t suffer the damage in the race. Unfortunately, that’s what happened; although we didn’t get the finish we were looking for with our No. 33 Wolf Pack Energy Services team, I still think it was a productive weekend. We learned a lot that we can take with us for our next Truck Series race.” Brandon Jones, finished 20th
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: Joey Coulter posted his third consecutive top-10 finish in the form of a seventh-place run at Bristol. After starting the season 29th in the standings, following a crash at Daytona, Coulter and the No. 21 team have been working their way forward ever since. In a season that started off slowly and didn’t see Coulter break into the top 10 until a fifth-place run at Dover, the No. 21 team has finished inside the top 15 in every race since. “It was a great day for us on the track and in the points,” Coulter said of his finish. “It was very much a come from behind day for us, and everyone stepped up to the challenge. The momentum that we picked up weeks ago still has us moving forward, and I expect it to stay that way through the end of the year.” The seventh-place run was good enough to move Coulter up two spots in the standings to seventh. He now sits 62 points behind the leaders.
Biggest Loser: For the second week in a row, Ryan Blaney finds his way here. Last week, it was a faulty nose piece that cost him the points lead, and this week the No. 29 team struggled with the truck from the time it came out of the hauler. He ended up finishing 13th and dropped another spot in the standings. He currently sits fourth, 24 markers behind the leader.
Points Update: By virtue of finishing just one position behind his teammate, Johnny Sauter maintains the point lead by eight markers over Matt Crafton. Ron Hornaday, Jr.’s third-place finish moved him up another spot to third, while Ryan Blaney dropped to fourth. Darrell Wallace, Jr. rounds out the top 5, 33 points behind the leader. German Quiroga remains sixth, followed by Joey Coulter. Timothy Peters and Ben Kennedy, who each dropped on position, sit eighth and ninth, respectively. Jeb Burton rounds out the top 10, 94 points behind Sauter.
“It was a good battle and Bristol has always been a special track. (Crew chief) Doug Randolph and the team gave me a great truck. This thing took off and it was flying and I knew we had a shot at it right away from lap 1. It’s (a) matter of putting it all together and not having any bad luck and we didn’t and everything came together and the team did a great job. For me, it’s a big day for me personally and professionally. Personally I think we dug into a lot of things with my family and the commitment they’ve had to the sport and specifically to this series for a long time. To race and make a living for quite a while then to beyond that to give me an opportunity to do the same in the latter stages of their involvement. It was a tough road and quite honestly we didn’t make it. It’s always a personal tragedy of sorts to go through that and that’s why for one of the many reasons I’m still involved in this series.” Brad Keselowski
“[I] came over the radio and said, ‘I hate finishing second.’ I don’t care if it’s Brad (Keselowski), Kyle (Busch), (Matt) Crafton – I want to beat all of them. Congrats to Brad. Thought I could give him a run for his money. I was sitting there in the truck after the race just trying to replay everything and if I could have done anything different. I would have had to really piss him off and wreck him to get by him. Our Toyota Care Tundra was fast right off the get-go. Just saving tires and on that last restart we got on the top and got around Kyle – that was probably the highlight of the weekend. I’m proud of my guys. This is a good comeback from Michigan – should have been a one-two (finish). It’s alright, we’ll go on from this and we’ll build off this and we’ll go to Canada – crap, I have to remember how to turn right! We’ll have fun.” Darrell Wallace, Jr.
“Today was a great day for this HTPG Refrigeration team. The guys worked hard on our Silverado on a short week and it showed with speed right off the truck. This No. 30 team is really coming together well and we are right there in position to get our first win really soon. I’m looking forward to turning right and left next weekend in Canada during our only road course stop of the season.” Ron Hornaday, Jr., finished third
“We fought loose, loose the whole time – on the very first run we put tires on it and we fought loose again. Made an adjustment right there at the end and we just stepped over the line and just got a little bit too tight. I said it was pretty darned good. We just needed track position there at the end – got that outside roll and I think we could have had something for them.” Matt Crafton, finished fourth
“My Nextant Curb Records Toyota – I tried to go to the top but I was just way too free. I’m typically a bottom feeder I guess you want to call it. I was just committed to the bottom. I tried running the top and Jeff (Hensley, crew chief) would give me lap times and I was two-tenths slower when I tried running the top. We just had to keep running the bottom. We were decent on the long run, we were just way too free. We made an adjustment yesterday anticipating running at night and freed it up with a spring. That’s obviously something you can’t change – we really wish we had an opportunity to fix that. Everything we did to try to tighten me up, because I kept telling him I was tight in and it made me tight on exit. We eventually on that last pit stop put it all back. We thought the track would take more rubber. I know it got black, but it didn’t take rubber like I remember it doing. A wise man told me if you can’t win Bristol, you need to finish and that’s what we did today.” Johnny Sauter, finished fifth
Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series heads to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park on Sunday, Aug. 31, for the Chevrolet Silverado 250. Last season, Nationwide Series standout Chase Elliott upset Ty Dillon with a last-lap punt that gave him his first career win. Race coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1; it can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.