Timothy Peters scored his second NASCAR Camping World Truck series win of 2015 in the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway, biding his time in the lead pack when the race took an abrupt turn with championship consequences.
Race leaders and points contenders, Matt Crafton and Erik Jones, respectively, had 30 laps of racing to go when the duo, relentlessly running side-by-side after a restart for continuous laps, collided after Crafton’s Truck suddenly became loose, sliding up into Jones coming off turn four. Crafton, reacting to avoid Jones, turned left to find Johnny Sauter below him, hitting him and causing major front-end damage to his No. 88 Truck. Jones had to go to the pits to clean up left rear fender damage and right side clearance after brushing the wall and came back out in the race in 11th.
Peters narrowly missed the melee, taking evasive action following Jones when the race came to a halt.
NASCAR decided to post the red flag for 12 minutes to clean up Crafton’s oil. When the green flew on lap 125, it was Peters heading the field with John Hunter Nemechek alongside of him. Peters’ strong Red Horse Toyota motored away to a .309 of a second margin of victory on the one-mile oval, earning him his 10th career Truck triumph.
“When I saw it happen, and [the wrecking trucks] were coming back across the race track, I can’t tell you what I was thinking, but it was ‘Here we go again,’” said Peters, who posted his seventh straight top-six finish in a stretch that includes two wins. “The last two years, we’ve had great trucks [at Phoenix], but we’ve been in the right place at the wrong time.
“The Lord works in great ways, and tonight was our night. Even though we missed it by our chinny, chin, chin, I was able to miss it. The only damage on the truck is from me getting crazy burning it out [in the post-race celebration]. I’m sure that won’t be a problem if we keep continuing to go down this path.”
Crafton’s 23rd place finish vastly changed the championship points outlook, being passed by Tyler Reddick for second, who trails Jones by 19-points after finishing fifth. Jones’ finish of ninth puts the distance to 32 over defending champion, Crafton with Homestead-Miami Speedway on the horizon. Jones needs to finish 15th or higher and it’s a lock for the championship. It would be the rookie driver’s first title and stop Crafton’s campaign for three-in-a-row.
“I made a mistake,” Crafton acknowledged. “Mistakes happen and we’re all human. I hate it for my guys because we had a great truck.”
The top five were Timothy Peters, John H. Nemechek, John Wes Townley, Daniel Suarez and Tyler Reddick.
The average speed of the Lucas Oil 150 was 92.704 mph. There were seven caution flags for 37 laps with nine lead changes among four drivers.
Peters’ win gives Toyota it’s eighth manufacturers’ championship in the series.
The next NASCAR Camping World Truck series event is the Ford EcoBoost 200 at the Miami-Homestead Speedway on Friday evening on November 20, starting at 7:30 p.m. EST on FOX Sports 1.