Crafton takes advantage of Busch wreck, claims first Trucks win

Updated: May 16, 2008, 11:25 PM ET
Associated Press

CONCORD, N.C. -- With Kyle Busch's dominant car getting crunched, Matt Crafton survived a wild finish to win his first Craftsman Truck Series race.

Crafton avoided the mayhem over the final laps Friday night, pulling away in a green-white-checkered finish to win at Lowe's Motor Speedway. It was Crafton's first win in 178 career starts dating to 2000.

"Finally we can shut them up," Crafton said of his critics. "Now they can say, 'When's the second one coming?' "

Crafton successfully blocked Chad McCumbee's pass attempt in turn 3 of the final lap and pulled away. Brendan Gaughan finished third, followed by Erik Darnell and Rick Crawford.

"Congratulations to Matt Crafton," McCumbee said. "They've been trying for so long and have come so close."

Busch finished 13th after getting caught in a wreck started by points leader Ron Hornaday, who later lost his cool after he was hit from behind by Todd Bodine and finished 23rd.

Hornaday's lead was cut to five points over Crawford.

Busch, the 23-year-old rising star, was hoping to win four races at the track in 10 days. Hours after he captured the pole for Saturday's Sprint Cup All-Star race, Busch started from the pole in his No. 51 Toyota. He led 86 of the 134 laps and appeared unbeatable until becoming the victim of bad luck.

Hornaday got loose in turn 4 with 29 laps to go and clipped Busch's car, which hit the outside wall.

"I got loose and got into him," Hornaday said. "He got the short end of the stick."

Busch's No. 51 Toyota was left with a broken splitter and damage to the right front fender. He came in for repairs, then was back on the track for the restart in 12th place with 26 laps to go.

With sparks flying off the right front, Busch came onto pit road again for more work after a wreck with 20 laps to go. He was 15th on the restart with 16 laps left.

The Sprint Cup points leader never challenged for the lead again, wasting a chance for his ninth win this season in NASCAR's top three series. Busch could only watch the trouble in front of him.

Johnny Benson stormed past the sputtering Darnell for the lead with seven laps to go, but was black-flagged for jumping the restart.

Moments later, Hornaday was hit from behind by Bodine with five laps to go and spun into the grass. Hornaday got back on the track after the caution flag was waved, sped down the track and lightly bumped Bodine's car.

"He just flat tried to kill me," Hornaday said. "You don't spin somebody out on the straightaway. ... We were pretty good friends. I don't know what's going to happen now."

The wreck allowed Crafton to take the lead, and he held on, leading to a hearty celebration with his crew in Victory Lane after ending his long drought.

"We never gave up," Crafton said. "This truck got wrecked at Kansas and I had a really good truck there. They took it back to the shop, rebuilt it and made it as good as ever."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press