HOMESTEAD, Fla. — With the championship already decided, the only thing left to resolve in the NASCAR Truck Series season finale was the race winner.
And even that took a while.
In fact, it required three, two-lap overtimes before Kyle Busch held off a hard-charging Ryan Blaney to clinch the win in Friday night’s Ford 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The win was Busch’s fifth of the season and 35th of his career.
“I didn’t know what to think. I knew those guys behind us were creeping up with those fresh tires,” said Busch, whose No. 51 Toyota team won the series’ owner’s championship.
“Everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports worked so hard, every week, all year long.”
Matt Crafton clinched his first series driver’s championship simply by starting the race but for a while remained in the hunt for the win.
Twice late he got caught up in wrecks. He finished 21st.
“It’s awesome, definitely awesome,” Crafton said. “It’s kind of aggravating because we wanted the owner’s championship as well, but it happens.”
The championship is the first for ThorSport Racing, which is based in Sandusky, Ohio.
While doing a radio interview in Victory Lane, Busch joined Crafton and congratulated him on winning his first NASCAR championship.
“This has been such a blessing,” Crafton said. “You don’t have to be in North Carolina to do this. We’ve built this thing as a group. Each and every year we’ve gotten it better and better.
“Everyone who works there, I can’t thank them enough.”
Blaney’s second-place finish helped cement his rookie of the year award. Jeb Burton finished third, Brendan Gaughan was fourth and Ron Hornaday was fifth.
“I lost focus for one second in lapped traffic and got into the wall,” Blaney said of an incident that cost him the lead ealry. “You’re on the edge all the time here, running five inches from the wall.
“If I had one more corner, I think I could have gotten Kyle.”
Ty Dillon ended up second in the series standings, last season’s champion James Buescher was third, Johnny Sauter was fourth and Burton fifth.
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