After a two-hour rain delay to the start of the Racin’ For Linemen 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill., on Saturday night, Erik Jones and Matt Crafton combined to lead most of the 160-lap distance of the race before getting caught up in separate late-race incidents. In the end, Cole Custer was the driver celebrating in victory lane, celebrating his second-career win and the first-ever Truck Series win for JR Motorsports, a regular competitor in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
“I wanted to come here and dominate. We didn’t have the best truck, but we got it done,” Custer said.
Jones led a race-high 84 laps, and Crafton led 49. They both wound up outside the top-20 at the finish, though, with Crafton finishing 21st and Jones 23rd. Jones spun while running second on lap 142. As a result of the spin, he shredded a tire. As the tire flew apart, Jones’ truck sustained a damaged fender and the battery came loose.
Crafton hit the wall after contact from John Hunter Nemechek a few laps later, resulting in the sixth and final caution of the race and a restart with five laps to go.
“Somebody ran into me and drove into my left-rear quarter panel,” Crafton said.
Tyler Reddick restarted with the lead, and Custer was next to him on the front row. Reddick missed a shift on the restart, something that also happened earlier in the race, handing the lead over to Custer.
“Felt like I got a pretty good start, and he (Reddick) missed a shift,” Custer said.
Spencer Gallagher finished second, Johnny Sauter was third, Nemechek fourth, and Cameron Hayley rounded out the top-five.
Jones started on the pole and led all laps before the first yellow flag on lap 54. Crafton got off pit road first to take the lead, but he lost that lead back to Jones when the race returned to green.
Crafton took the lead, again, by staying out during the next caution near the halfway point of the race, while Jones restarted outside the top-five after taking four tires. Crafton ran up front until pitting during a yellow flag just before lap 100. He restarted 12th after being one of only a few drivers to head for pit road.
Sauter inherited the lead with Crafton’s pit stop, but lost the top spot to Custer when the race restarted. Jones also passed Sauter to take second while Crafton worked his way back into the top-five. Crafton retook the lead on pit road during a caution with 43 laps to go, while Gallagher got out of the pits second by taking only two tires.
Jones rejoined Crafton up front by taking second from Gallagher on lap 128.
“All night we kept thrashing at it, kept making adjustments on it,” Gallgher said of his truck.