In a Nutshell: Kyle Busch took the checkered flag 3.021 seconds ahead of Matt Crafton to win Friday night’s SFP 250 at Kansas Speedway. Busch started on the pole and led eight different times for 104 of 267 laps, often running times more than a second faster than most of the field en route to Victory Lane. Joey Logano, Austin Dillon and Tayler Malsam rounded out the top 5.
Who Should Have Won: Kansas has rarely been kind to Kyle Busch recently, but he was easily the class of the field on Friday night. Having started on the pole, the driver of the No. 51 Toyota easily pulled away from the field each time the green flag flew. And though late-race pit strategy put the No. 20, driven by Austin Dillon, out front, Busch was able to run him down and lead the final 21 circuits.
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– The field failed to complete a single lap before bringing out the first caution for a wreck in turn four. Ron Hornaday, Jr. was clipped by Brennan Newberry, setting off the melee. Timothy Peters, German Quiroga, Spencer Gallagher and Ron Hornaday, Jr. were all involved, with Gallagher taking the brunt of the damage. He was left to retire with zero laps completed and was credited with a 30th-place finish in the 31-truck field. Once the damage was deemed terminal by the team, Gallagher tweeted his displeasure:
The SFP 250 was ultimately slowed by nine cautions for 46 laps, shy of the record of 12 set in 2008.
– Austin Dillon made his first start of the 2014 season behind the wheel of the No. 20NTS Motorsports Chevrolet. After qualifying seventh, he remained inside the top 10 for much of the night. A late-race strategy to take two tires put the 2011 Truck Series Champion in the lead, but four tires ultimately won. Dillon dropped to fourth by the time the checkered flag flew. His next race planned is Charlotte next weekend.
– Ben Kennedy damaged his primary truck during qualifying and was forced to go to a backup. After starting at the back of the field, he moved inside the top 15 within the first 35 laps. But it wasn’t meant to be for the Rookie of the Year candidate. Taking evasive action after John Wes Townley spun, Kennedy got caught up by spinning teammate Ron Hornaday, Jr. and both drivers suffered damage. The driver of the No. 31 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet spent the remainder of the night in and out of the garage area, driving a truck that was only a shell of what it had been. But because so many drivers were involved in cautions though the night, he managed to finish 20th, 52 laps down.
– Darrell Wallace, Jr. would probably like to forget this race weekend even happened. On Thursday, his team was forced to change an engine after the final practice session. Then, on Friday, he came into the garage area with smoke billowing out of the back end. Though his team was able to make repairs in time for the race that night, the troubles continued, forcing Wallace to make multiple trips down pit road, complaining of a vibration. He ultimately ended up finishing 15th, 11 laps off the pace.
– Tayler Malsam made his first Truck Series start since the 2011 season after announcing a deal with Turner Scott Motorsports earlier this week. The driver of the No. 32 Chevrolet started 13th, narrowly missing the final round of qualifying by 0.036 seconds. By the time the checkered flag flew, Malsam had somehow avoided the carnage and finished a solid fifth. His next race with TSM will be at Charlotte Motor Speedway next weekend.
Truck Rookie Report
2014 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Ben Kennedy (No. 31)
Mason Mingus (No. 35)
Tyler Reddick (No. 19)
Tyler Young (No. 02)
No. of Rookies in the Race: 7 (add Ryan Ellis, Todd Shafer, Scott Stenzel and Jimmy Weller)
No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 1; Mason Mingus, finished tenth
Rookie of the Race: Mason Mingus
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: Matt Crafton took advantage of the poor luck those around in the standings faced and moved up two spots in the standings to take the lead by eight markers over Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Timothy Peters. Having won this race last April, Crafton came in looking for a repeat, and while he failed to lead any laps, the driver of the No. 88 Toyota managed to avoid all nine cautions and bring home a solid runner-up finish.
Biggest Loser: With just three races under their belts, you could throw any driver that was involved in the nine cautions Friday night as one who lost big in the points battle. But it was perhaps Ryan Blaney who lost the most. He dropped from fourth to sixth and now sits 19 points behind the leader. It’s hardly an insurmountable gap but is definitely not a hole you want to be in this early in the season.
Points Update: Defending champion Matt Crafton finds himself atop the standings, leading Timothy Peters and Ron Hornaday, Jr., who are tied for second, by eight points. Interestingly enough, it was this race last season where the driver of the No. 88 Toyota took over the points lead and never relinquished it. German Quiroga sits fourth and Johnny Sauter is fifth, 15 markers behind his teammate.
Up Next: The Camping World Truck Series heads home to Charlotte Motor Speedway next Friday night. Last year, Kyle Busch overcame an engine change and a pit road penalty to take the checkered flag ahead of Brendan Gaughan. The North Carolina Education Lottery 250 will be televised on live FOX Sports 1 beginning at 8:00 PM ET; it can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiriusXM Channel 90.