Timothy Peters found himself in the lead of the Lucas Oil 150 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on Friday night, with John Hunter Nemechek alongside on the front row on a restart with 21 laps remaining in the 150-lap race. The two maintained their positions throughout the final laps, and Peters took the race win and Nemechek runner-up honors.
“Chris Lambert (spotter) kept me alert and was integral to see what was going on,” Peters said. “How about Toyota clinching the manufacturers’ championship tonight? That’s awesome. Thank you Toyota for what you do for Red Horse Racing.” With the win, Peters handed Toyota the 2015 Camping World Truck Series manufacturers’ championship. It was the third-straight such honor for Toyota and the eighth for the manufacturer in its 12 years of competition in the series. Prior the three most recent titles, the other five also came consecutively between 2006 and 2010.
“Toyota is proud to collect our eighth manufacturer’s championship in the Truck Series following yet another successful season by our Tundra drivers,” Toyota Motor Sales USA Vice President of Marketing, Performance and Guest Experience Ed Laukes said. “Toyota’s commitment and dedication to the sport of NASCAR is apparent by the consistency of our team partners and our unwavering support of all NASCAR series. Our partnership with championship-caliber race teams and a solid combination of veteran drivers and young talent has resulted in earning the title in eight of the last 12 seasons participating in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.”
Toyota looked to be on its way to the manufacturers’ title throughout the race, but Peters didn’t look to be the driver to get the manufacturer there. Throughout the race, the top-three drivers in the driver championship points standings — Erik Jones, Matt Crafton and Tyler Reddick — ran one-two-three, with Toyota drivers Jones and Crafton running in the top-two spots.
Reddick suffered a slow pit stop during the fifth of seven yellow flags that marred the race, and as a result, restarted eighth. During that same caution, Crafton got off pit road ahead of Jones to assume the race lead. Jones had led almost all laps to that point. While racing for the lead with just under 30 laps remaining, Crafton and Jones made contact that caused significant damage to both trucks. The incident also resulted in Crafton collecting his ThorSport Racing teammate, Johnny Sauter, who had replaced Reddick as the third-place runner. After the incident, Peters and Nemechek moved into the top-two positions.
“I am glad they are okay, but you never want to see that happen,” Peters said. “It was hard racing, I guess. From my perspective it was. We had a top-five truck, for sure, but we whipped ourselves into position to take the win tonight.”
Crafton headed to the garage and Jones made multiple pit stops over the course of the remaining laps. In the end, Jones wound up ninth and Crafton 23rd. As a result, Crafton dropped to third in the points standings, 32 points behind Jones, who maintained his lead. Reddick, after finishing the race fifth, moved by Crafton into the second spot in the standings, 19 points behind Jones with one race remaining — the Nov. 20 Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“It was 100 percent my fault,” Crafton said of the incident with Jones. “We were close, and it was tight racing. When you get somebody side-by-side with you, I just got loose and made a mistake. Things happen. We’re all human, and we’ll go on to Homestead. I hate it for the guys; we had such a good truck. We’ll just hold our heads up and go to Homestead.”
John Wes Townley and Daniel Suarez also finished in the top-five at Phoenix, with Townley taking third and Suarez fourth. Spencer Gallagher finished sixth, J.J. Haley was seventh, Matt Tifft eighth and Mason Mingus rounded out the top-10.