The victory was Crafton’s first of the season and the third of his career. In beating Coulter to the finish line by .168 seconds, Crafton became the 13th different winner in 13 races at Kansas, breaking a tie for the series record with Homestead-Miami Speedway.
With a late pass, Ryan Blaney finished third, followed by Brendan Gaughan and series leader Johnny Sauter, Crafton’s ThorSport Racing teammate.
Crafton’s crew made wholesale changes to his No. 88 Toyota before the races, and the adjustments paid off.
“This truck was junk (Friday in practice),” Crafton said. “They made so many changes on this thing and turned this thing around. We knew we had something to win with about halfway through this race.”
With Coulter on his bumper for the duration, Crafton’s crew gave him some terse advice.
“They said, ‘Just put your head down and just flip your rearview mirror up and dig,'” Crafton said. “That’s what we did.”
Coulter fell back in traffic with about 10 laps left but rapidly closed back in on Crafton and challenged for the lead over the final five laps.
“When we went around a lapped car, I went in a little higher than Matt did behind that lapped car and just got a little bit tight and lost some ground,” Coulter said. “I wasn’t too worried about it. I was kind of thinking it was going to work out a little bit better.
“These trucks punch such a big hole in the air that sometimes being a little farther back is a better place to be with a few laps to go. But it ended up being the same thing. I could get to him, but (I couldn’t get) that five feet that I needed to get next to him.”
The race was red-flagged after Lap 120 after Todd Bodine took two brutal hits in the same wreck. Driving to the inside of Bodine, Brennan Newberry got loose and his No. 14 Chevrolet knocked Bodine into the outside wall. As Bodine’s Toyota slid down the track, impact from Bryan Silas’ Ford destroyed the front clip of Bodine’s truck and launched it back into the outside wall.
Bodine escaped injury, but the wreck left just 18 trucks—half the field—rolling for a restart on Lap 126, after a stoppage of 12 minutes, 41 seconds.
In a race that set a Truck Series track record for caution laps (52 of 167), contact between teammates on Lap 34 deprived the race of one of its fastest trucks. Polesitter James Buescher’s Chevrolet got loose during a restart and tapped the Chevy of his Turner Scott Motorsports teammate Miguel Paludo as the drivers battled for the lead.
Paludo crashed hard into the frontstretch wall and took his crippled truck to the garage.
“It’s OK—I know he didn’t mean to get into me,” Paludo said after exiting his truck. “It’s unfortunate, because we were having a great run, and we really needed a good finish.”
Shortly after the halfway point, another wreck took out another contender. After a restart on Lap 88, Kyle Busch got loose in traffic and chased his truck up the banking. Ryan Blaney passed Busch without incident, but the same wasn’t true of German Quiroga.
As Quiroga pulled to the inside of Busch’s Toyota, Quiroga lost control, and in trying to correct he spun Busch’s Tundra into the outside wall, ending the race for the No. 51 KBM team.