The green flag that waved to start the UNOH 175 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday was the 500th green flag to start a race in the series that began as the NASCAR Super Truck Series presented by Craftsman at Phoenix International Raceway in 1995. The historic race in Loudon was historic for the GMS Racing team, as Austin Dillon drove the team’s No. 33 Chevrolet entry to its first win in the series. “They (the No. 33 team) did a great job setting it (the truck) up,” Dillon said.
Two-time reigning Truck Series champion Matt Crafton finished second, followed by his ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter in third. Timothy Peters finished fourth, and last weekend’s winner at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., John Hunter Nemechek, rounded out the top-five. “We had a great run today,” Nemechek said. “My guys made great calls in the pits.”
With his second-place finish, his seventh top-two of the season, Crafton moved from third to second in the Camping World Truck Series championship points standings. After leap-frogging Tyler Reddick for second, Crafton moved to within seven points of leader Jones. Reddick finished the race in 15th position and dropped to third in the standings, 19 points out of first.
“We’ll keep working on it, and we’ll get them,” Crafton said.
Dillon led a race-high 80 laps of the 175 that made up the race on his way to the win, while the other driver who led significant laps, Kyle Busch, led 67 circuits before getting mired outside the top-10 late in the race and finishing 11th.
Dillon started on the pole, and Busch moved up to second at the start of the race. After a second yellow flag on lap 36 for a Reddick spin, Busch took the lead on the restart and ran up front until temporarily falling off the pace and handing the lead over to his Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Erik Jones on lap 86. By lap 91, though, Busch was back front.
Busch gave up the lead to pit during a green-flag cycle of pit stops on lap 116. He wouldn’t return to the lead for the remainder of the race. The green-flag cycle was a lengthy one, as several drivers pitted during a lap 67 caution when the front-runners stayed out, and as a result, were able to stay out longer during the green-flag run. Of those who stopped under green prior to the fourth yellow flag of the race on lap 135, Busch was the highest in the running order until he was passed for position by Dillon just before the caution. Despite already pitting under green, Busch and Jones made stopped again during the caution.
Busch quickly got up to third when the race restarted and then got up to second after another restart a few laps later. He lost third to Crafton and then pitted, again, because of a right-rear tire rub during the sixth and final caution on lap 161. As a result, he restarted 14th and was unable to crack the top-10 in the remaining laps. Busch made contact with the wall with two laps remaining.
Dillon, meanwhile, maintained his position up front for the remainder of the race, but it wasn’t without challenges from Crafton, Sauter, Peters and others in the late stages of the race and through a couple of late-race restarts. “That’s what makes these races fun when you get these late-race restarts,” Dillon said.
Finishing sixth through 10th in the race were Daniel Hemrick, Jones, Austin Theriault, Dalton Sargeant and Gray Gaulding.