Matt Crafton may have been in the lead Saturday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway when the white flag waved in the Smith’s 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, but the white flag doesn’t end the race, the checkered flag does. Nelson Piquet Jr. got by Crafton on the final lap of the event to be in the lead when the checkered flag waved and celebrate his second series win of the season, the seventh of the year for Turner Motorsports.
“We really needed this win,” Piquet said. “Probably the best win of my career.”
While Piquet was celebrating what was, perhaps, the best win of his racing career, Crafton was relegated to a runner-up finish.
“That was a tough one to lose on the last lap,” Crafton said.
Joey Coulter, who started the race from the pole, finished third.
“I though we had a good enough truck,” Coulter said, going on to express disappointment in being on the receiving end of contact from Crafton on a late-race restart.
The yellow flag waved several times during the race, with eight cautions in the 146-lap event. The opening laps were caution-filled, as the yellow flag flew four times int he first 30 laps.
Once the action settled down following the fourth caution, Parker Kligermen restarted up front after taking fuel only during the previous yellow-flag pit stop. Kligerman gave up the lead on lap 73, though, to hit pit road for four fresh tires and fuel, turning the top spot over to Piquet.
Piquet then lost his position up front when the yellow flag waved again on lap 76 after being beaten off pit road by the Richard Childress Racing duo of Ty Dillon and Coulter. Piquet got back to the lead on the next restart that followed a caution that came out with 45 laps to go.
Piquet remained up front until he was passed by Coulter with 15 laps to go. Later the same lap, Coulter lost the lead to Crafton. Crafton was then able to keep his truck at the point until the final lap of the race.
“We had a great truck,” Crafton said. “The thing was really good right there at the end.”
In victory lane, Piquet wasn’t quite sure exactly how he got by Crafton on the final lap.
“I have no idea what happened,” the race winner said. “Someone up there gave me some grip when I needed it.”
Las Vegas native Brendan Gaughan finished fourth, and Todd Bodine recovered from a spin on lap one to finish fifth. Sixth through 10th in the finishing order were James Buescher, Cale Gale, Timothy Peters, David Mayhew in Kyle Busch’s No. 18 truck and Dillon.
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