Erik Jones kicked off his triple-header Texas Motor Speedway NASCAR weekend Friday night with a dominating performance and win in the WinStar World Casino and Resort 350 Camping World Truck Series race. On his way to the victory, he led 117 laps of the 147 that made up the race. With the win, he extended his series championship points lead to 17 points over Matt Crafton and 21 points over Tyler Reddick, his closest two championship competitors.
“We’ve went through a lot of ups and downs these past couple of months and trying to get back into this championship hunt and getting our Tundra back in there,” Jones said. “It’s pretty awesome, a swing up, and it’s nice to get back in victory lane here a Texas, a place I love.”
Crafton and Reddick were able to minimize the championship damage by also posting top-five finishes. Crafton finished fourth, while Tyler Reddick was fifth. Meanwhile, Daniel Suarez, a regular in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, finished second to give Kyle Busch Motorsports a sweep of the top-two finishing positions. Ryan Blaney finished third.
“It definitely was a strong run for Kyle Busch Motorsports,” Suarez said. “Everyone did an amazing job. My truck was fast, definitely the fastest out there in the last run, but we were just waiting for a caution to take place. I really felt like we had a shot. We were a little bit off in the first half of the race, and then under the caution, we were able to close the gap 100 percent.”
Jones and Crafton combined to lead almost all the laps of the race, with Crafton leading 27 laps. The only laps led by someone other than Jones and Crafton were a handful of laps during two green-flag cycles of pit stops. They were the only two drivers to lead multiple laps, with three other drivers leading one lap apiece.
Crafton, who won at Texas the last time the Truck Series visited the track in June, started on the pole, while Jones started the race from the fifth spot. Jones got up to second soon after the green flag waved to start the race and took the lead on lap 13.
After the first green-flag cycle of stops that got underway on lap 43, Crafton cycled back to the lead with a five-second cushion on Jones. Crafton pitted one lap earlier than Jones, and Jones had a troublesome pit stop, as his crew struggled to get its jack under the truck. Jones’ deficit was erased by the one and only caution of the race on lap 54, and on lap 65, he moved back up to the lead.
After running second to Jones for much of the race, Crafton drifted back a couple of additional positions after the final cycle of green-flag stops just before the 100-lap mark. He eventually dropped back more than 11 seconds behind Jones, as Suarez moved into second and Blaney third.
“We were a little too free on the first few runs and just over-adjusted on the last one and got pretty tight at the end,” Crafton said. “All in all, not a bad day for our Menards Toyota Tundra. It was decent, but not quite as good as we needed to be.”
Finishing sixth through 10th were Timothy Peters, Brandon Jones, Christopher Bell, Ben Kennedy and Cameron Hayley.