In a Nutshell: Erik Jones took the checkered flag 0.629 seconds ahead of Ryan Blaney to win Friday night’s American Ethanol 200 from Iowa Speedway. Jones led a race-high 131 laps en route to his second career victory. Matt Crafton, Joey Coulter and German Quiroga rounded out the top 5.
Who Should Have Won: Erik Jones. Simply put, both Kyle Busch Motorsports trucks were strong most of the night, and the right driver ended up in victory lane. Having started side-by-side on the front row, the KBM duo of Darrell Wallace, Jr. and Erik Jones led the first 84 laps (except two led under caution by Chris Eggleston) before Ryan Blaney broke up their party and moved past Wallace for second. Jones went on to hold the lead and only lost it while working his way through traffic at the tail end of the lead lap. But his pit crew got it done on the final stop of the night, giving him the lead for the third and final time of the night, though it wasn’t easy as he had to hold off a hard charging Ryan Blaney.
Welcome to the newest addition to Tracking the Trucks! In this section for each race, we’ll take a look at the most important things to know just in case you weren’t able to watch it. Love it? Hate it? Let me know in the comments below.
Peters’ Three-Peat Bid Cut Short
Heading into Friday night’s race, Timothy Peters had won in the series’ last two July visits to Iowa Speedway, and he started third, well within reach of the leaders when the green flag dropped. Though he remained inside the top 10 for much of the night, everything changed for Peters when he attempted to pass Ron Hornaday, Jr. Having cleared the driver of the No. 30 Chevrolet briefly, Peters moved up the track, however Hornaday made up a bit of ground on the outside lane, leaving the driver of the No. 17 Toyota to clip Hornaday’s left front, wrecking both trucks. Peters was none too pleased with Hornaday and made it clear when he turned in the No. 30 truck, spinning it out.
“It was just one of those racing things tonight,” Peters said. “We thought we were clear, and we made contact with the No. 30. Marcus (Richmond, crew chief) and the No. 17 guys worked hard and fast to get us back out on the track. We’ll just move forward and focus on our next race at Eldora (Speedway).”
For Hornaday, he was pretty frustrated given how strong his truck was.
“This was a tough one to swallow. I’m so grateful to my Turner Scott Motorsports crew for all the great trucks they’ve given me so far this year, and they gave me another one tonight. I lifted and thought I gave the No. 17 plenty of room out there, and that contact was really uncalled for. It’s unfortunate because we could have had a great night. I know the guys worked really hard; you work twice as hard on a night like this. I can’t thank Rheem, Steve Turner and Harry Scott enough for everything they’ve done for me this year. I’m really hoping we can make up for the points we lost tonight in Eldora.”
Simply put, short track racing tends to bring out the tempers. While Peters was angry with Hornaday and sought him out for a bit of payback, the two drivers don’t have any kind of history, and the incident probably ends here. With that being said, Eldora in a couple of weeks will be the same type of beating and banging racing that made NASCAR so popular in the past, and those tempers are certainly part of the appeal.
No. 51 Fails Post-Race Inspection … Again
NASCAR announced late Friday night that Erik Jones’ winning No. 51 Toyota failed post-race inspection for being too low in the rear end. The truck will be taken back to the R&D Center for further inspection, and any penalties will be announced early next week.
“It was close. It was off a little bit, but it was close,” said No. 51 crew chief Eric Phillips. “Not sure right now, but we’ll look at everything. Obviously it wasn’t anything intentional but we’ll look into it. It’s a rough race track and just not a situation we want to be in, but we’ll have to see what happens on the first of the week when we get home and look over it.”
The last time the Truck Series raced at Kentucky Speedway, Kyle Busch’s No. 51 measured too low in the front end. NASCAR declared it a P2 penalty in violation of Section 20B-12.8.1 (truck failed to meet post-race height requirements) of the rulebook. Phillips was fined $5,000 and owner Kyle Busch was docked six owner points.
“The Kentucky deal is completely a different thing,” Phillips said. “We were probably pushing tolerances there, but that’s our job to do, but here it wasn’t that, by no means. We’ll just have to figure it out Monday and see what happens.”
What’s interesting to note about this whole situation is that the FoxSports 1 announcers made comments about how low the KBM trucks were running. They showed both Jones and teammate Darrell Wallace, Jr. throwing sparks as they bottomed out in turn 2. And the sad thing is that any penalty will be pretty much a slap on the wrist. A loss of six owner points won’t be much of a hit for the No. 51 team because they’ve got six victories this season, and the worst that could possibly happen is likely probation–maybe a shot suspension–for Eric Phillips. But that ends up still being just a slap on the wrist since technology allows Phillips to “be” at the track without actually being present.
NASCAR really needs to consider stripping drivers of their wins, whether they’re running for the championship or not, and then maybe these teams will think twice about bending the rules to gain an advantage. I know it’s not realistic to expect the sanctioning body to put their foot down that strongly, but one can always hope, right?
Truck Rookie Report
2014 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Tyler Young (No. 02)
Tyler Reddick (No. 19)
Ben Kennedy (No. 31)
Mason Mingus (No. 35)
No. of Rookies in the Race: 19 (add Erik Jones, Jeff Choquette, Cole Custer, John Hunter Nemechek, Chase Pistone, Spencer Gallagher, Chris Eggleston, Brandon Brown, Dustin Hapka, Eric Caudell, Raymond Terczak, Jr., Korbin Forrister, Charles Lewandowski, Caleb Roark and Tommy Regan)
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 6; Erik Jones, finished first; Ben Kennedy, finished sixth; Jeff Choquette, finished seventh; Cole Custer, finished eighth; Tyler Reddick, finished ninth; John Hunter Nemechek, finished tenth
Rookie of the Race: Ben Kennedy, finished sixth
Note: Only drivers declared for the rookie battle are eligible to win the Rookie of the Race honors.
“Tonight really wound up being a great night. We didn’t quite have the handling at the start of the race, but we nailed it on that first adjustment. We were really competitive as soon as we made that stop. I would have loved to get up into the top five, but I was just a little bit tight on the final run. The track was just changing a little bit at the very end and I didn’t want to push it any harder because I didn’t want to have a problem with the right-front tire. Overall, I’m really proud of the strides we made in tonight’s race. I’m excited to have Heater.com on board and happy that we could kick it off with a sixth-place finish. We’ve had a little string of bad luck the last few races, so finishing sixth and running so strong was a huge boost. I can’t wait to get to Eldora now.” Rookie of the Race, Ben Kennedy, finished sixth
“The Haas Automation Chevrolet was really good in practice,” said Custer, who qualified fifth for the 200-lap race. “It changed quite a bit over the course of the race, though. We weren’t able to catch back up to where we started the day, but we finished eighth and I’m proud of the effort that all the guys put into giving us a really strong truck.” Cole Custer, finished eighth
“I learned a lot. The Broken Bow Records Ford F-150 was okay at first but I had to adjust on it a little bit. I tried my very best to tell the guys what it needed to make it better. For the middle run there it felt great. We ended up being too tight at the end of the race but we still had a good run and got a top 10 out of it. It was interesting to use that draft to my advantage and watch it used against me as well. Dirty air plays a huge role in truck racing.” Tyler Reddick, finished ninth
“It was a decent night for this Young’s Motorsports team. We missed the balance a little – went from really tight to loose, but we just kept working on it. We are actually starting to race against guys – learning more and more every week. Restarts are getting better and I just can’t thank everybody on this team for working hard. We are improving every week.” Tyler Young, finished 17th
Each week, we’ll take a look at the championship picture and find out which drivers were affected the most by the racing on track.
Biggest Winner: Friday night’s runner-up Ryan Blaney jumped two spots to second and now sits just two markers behind leader Matt Crafton. While he certainly would have liked a win, the driver of the No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford finds himself within striking distance of the championship lead heading into Eldora, which is still probably one of the biggest wild cards on the schedule, even though most teams have notes on the facility now.
Biggest Loser: There’s no way you could pick anyone other than Timothy Peters for the biggest loser at Iowa Speedway. Having expected to go into the race and run well given his history at the track, Peters instead was relegated to a 31st-place finish, 71 laps down after a run-in with Ron Hornaday, Jr. sent him to the garage area for extensive repairs. Though, he was credited for finishing the race, the points hit was certainly not one that the driver of the No. 17 Toyota wanted to have, especially given how short the season is.
Points Update: Matt Crafton moved up one position on the strength of his third-place finish and now leads Ryan Blaney by just two markers. Crafton’s teammate Johnny Sauter dropped two spots and now sits third, seven points behind. German Quiroga moved up to fourth after scoring his seventh top 10 in nine races, and Ron Hornaday, Jr. rounds out the top 5.
Rookie Ben Kennedy moved up one spot to sixth and now sits just 29 markers back from Crafton. Meanwhile, Timothy Peters dropped four positions after he tangled with Hornaday and now sits seventh, while Darrell Wallace, Jr. remains eighth. Joey Coulter moved up one spot to ninth and John Wes Townley dropped one position to round out the top 10.
“That was awesome! We definitely drove it hard and this thing had nothing left in at the end. That was a great race with Ryan (Blaney) – great competitor and a great guy to race against. He raced me hard, raced me clean and we have always showed a lot of respect to each other. Happy to get this ToyotaCare Tundra to victory lane for everyone at KBM – the pit crew did a great job. I have to thank Joe Gibbs Racing Engines, ButlerBuilt Seats, Camping World and the fans. Race Winner Erik Jones
“Another good night for the Cooper Standard Ford F-150. Props to these guys at Brad Keselowski Racing. They did a great job of getting me better and better throughout the day. We weren’t very good to start the day (in practice) and they did a great job of getting us to where we could run for the win tonight. I thought we had a great long run truck. The 51 got a little bit better on a long run there at the end. I think if we would have come out with the lead after the last pit stop I think we would have had a better shot at it and I think we could have kept the lead.” Ryan Blaney, finished second
“This was a brand new truck. These guys built it in about four days, and they did an awesome job on this Menards Toyota Tundra, and it says a lot. On pit road these guys were flawless again. I think we were on the splitter a little too much. All in all, not a bad night for this Menards Toyota and get out of here in third place.” Matt Crafton, finished third
“It was a good night for us at Iowa (Speedway). We earned another top-5 finish and moved up to fourth in the point standings. The entire OtterBox team worked really hard tonight and the pit crew had some great stops that helped us throughout the race. I can’t thank my entire team enough and my sponsors OtterBox and NET10 Wireless for their support. I know that first win is coming soon.” German Quiroga, finished fifth
Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series takes a week off before heading to Eldora Speedway on Wednesday, July 24th. Last year, Austin Dillon took the victory, and Norm Benning stole the spotlight when he fought his way into the feature race through the last chance qualifier. The 1800CarCash Mudsummer Classic will air live on FoxSports 1 at 7:00 PM ET; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.