Speedway Digest Staff
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Miguel Paludo was one of the best in the field as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) battled it out at Michigan International Speedway. Paludo earned a top-10 starting position for the Michigan National Guard 200 and led 20 laps on his way to a fifth-place finish, his second-consecutive top five and eighth top 10 of the season.
Feeling confident about the weekend from the moment he arrived at the 2.0-mile Michigan track, Paludo secured a top-10 starting position with a 39.473-second qualifying lap in the morning time trials. Taking the green flag from eighth place, Paludo maintained his starting spot until a caution on lap 17 gave him the opportunity to make his first pit stop of the day. Crew chief Jeff Hensley called for four tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment. With many trucks opting for two-tire or fuel-only stops, Paludo was in the 17th position when he returned to the track. Hensley assured his driver that while others had opted for track position early on, the team would be prepared to save time when it counted on a future stop.
The field returned to green on lap 20, and Paludo moved up two spots before a yellow once again slowed the racing action on lap 27. Now in a position to make a fuel-only stop, a splash of fuel put the AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet in 11th for the restart. Paludo felt the handling of his truck coming to him over the longest green-flag run of the day, and he advanced into eighth by the time green-flag pit stops began on lap 50. Although capable of going much further than his competitors before requiring a stop, a caution flag for debris on lap 57 somewhat eliminated that advantage as most teams prepared for what could be their final stop of the day. Hensley made the call for right-side sticker tires and fuel, as the handling on the No. 32 did not require any further adjustments. The aggressive strategy and fast work by the Turner Scott Motorsports pit crew gave Paludo the edge, and the AccuDoc Solutions Chevy Silverado took over the lead for the lap 61 restart.
Paludo got a good jump on the field when the green flag waved, and after a brief battle with the second-place truck, he began to slowly pull away from the competitors behind him. He appeared to be on his way to victory, but a caution for a wreck five laps later once again closed up the field. With Hensley urging his driver to save fuel, Paludo did not require a visit to pit road, so he remained on the racetrack and maintained the point position.
The green flag waved on lap 79, and while Paludo's truck was strong, the No. 51 truck had a slight edge on the No. 32 when the final caution flag of the day waved on lap 92. With only six laps remaining until the scheduled finish, the restart was wild, sending Paludo and his competitors four wide after the green. Paludo battled to the finish, but a shuffle in the closing laps put him in the fifth position when he crossed the start/finish line.
"It is so much fun to run up front," said Paludo after the race. "I can't thank my team enough, we work so hard and just keep getting better and better every week. I thought that this was our race; I knew going into it that it would be a good race for us. We just have to keep this momentum going straight into Bristol and keep making gains in the point standings. That first win is so close."
Paludo's fifth-place finish moved him up to fifth in the NCWTS Driver Point Standings. The NCWTS returns to action under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway on Wednesday, August 21. The UNOH 200 will air on Fox Sports 1 at 8:00 p.m. EDT.
Chicagoland Speedway, Hillshire Brands, AARP and AARP Foundationare teaming up this September in the fight to end hunger for nearly nine million older Americans. The organizations will host a volunteer meal-packing event on Wed., Sept. 11 at Chicago’s Navy Pier in an effort to provide meals to older Illinoisans struggling with hunger.
The midday event will take place from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on the west end of the Pier and the meals will benefit Northern Illinois Food Bank, which serves 13 counties in the greater Chicagoland area. Over the course of four hours, volunteers are expected to pack over 1,700 boxes of food, yielding more than 15,000 meals.
“We are extremely grateful to AARP and AARP Foundation, Chicagoland Speedway and Hillshire Brands for putting a focus on hunger in our community,” said Pete Schaefer, president and CEO, Northern Illinois Food Bank. “Drive to End Hunger reminds us that there are many older adults who are finding themselves making choices they never thought they would have to make, such as, paying for their mortgage or buying medicine, paying utility bills or buying food.”
In further support of Drive to End Hunger, Hillshire Brands is donating $20,000 to AARP Foundation and an entire semi-truck load of food to the Northern Illinois Food Bank.
“Hillshire Brands is proud to support AARP Foundation and the Northern Illinois Food Bank,” said Sean Connolly, president and CEO, Hillshire Brands. “Through campaigns such as this by AARP Foundation, and the feeding programs of Northern Illinois Food Bank and its network partners, we can help ensure that nutritious food is available to older adults, and all our hungry neighbors, in their time of need.”
“Being a part of this effort with Chicagoland Speedway, Hillshire Brands and the Northern Illinois Food Bank means that more older adults who struggle with hunger will get access to the food they need,” said AARP Foundation President Jo Ann Jenkins. “This event will help shine a spotlight on the issue of hunger that more than nine million people 50-plus face everyday.”
Throughout the 2013 season, all 13 ISC tracks, including Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway, are donating extra food from race weekends to local food banks on behalf of Drive to End Hunger. ISC began working with AARP and AARP Foundation on food donation efforts in 2011. Since then, the collaboration has donated more than 70,000 pounds of food – the equivalent of approximately 54,000 meals – to local food banks near ISC tracks.
“While we have been involved with Drive to End Hunger through our parent company, ISC, we are thrilled to personally host AARP and AARP Foundation in Chicago this September,” said Scott Paddock, Chicagoland Speedway president. “We look forward to continuing the fight against hunger and are pleased to provide aid to a cause with such a tremendous impact on both a local and national level.”
Larry Michael, "Voice of the Washington Redskins," Named Grand Marshal of Virginia529 College Savings 250
Ten-time Emmy Award winner Larry Michael, who is familiar with play-by-play at NFL stadiums, will make a different – but very important – call on Friday, September 6, at Richmond International Raceway. The “Voice of the Washington Redskins” will serve as Grand Marshal for the Virginia529 College Savings 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race, voicing the most famous words in motorsports: “Gentlemen, start your engines!”
The Virginia529 College Savings 250 kicks off the “One Last Race to Make The Chase” weekend at Richmond International Raceway, and features a night of old-school, short track action “under the lights” on Friday, September 6. Some of your favorite NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers, including Virginia native Elliott Sadler, will mix it up with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers running double-duty on the ¾-mile oval.
“I’m a big, big NASCAR fan,” said Michael. “To be asked to be the Grand Marshal is something special for me and I’m really looking forward to it. The Virginia529 is a program that I’ve participated in with my children, in fact. I’ve had one who has gotten through college at George Mason University and I have two more in college now. It’s the largest such college plan in the entire country. If you have kids that are headed to college, what better way to get your money ready for college, than to put in the Virginia529?”
“We’re very pleased to have Larry Michael serve as the Grand Marshal of the Virginia529 College Savings 250,” said Mary Morris, CEO of the Virginia529 College Savings Plan. “Larry has long been an advocate for education, with multiple Virginia529 college savings accounts to help him and his children reach their higher education goals.”
Michael, the Senior Vice President/Executive Producer of Media for the Washington Redskins, also hosts Redskins Nation on Comcast SportsNet, as well as the Mike Shanahan Coaches Show on NBC-4. His responsibilities include production of all video content for Redskins.com TV, as well as production of all Redskins Broadcast Network television shows and broadcasts.
Prior to the start the GEICO 400 on Sunday, Sept. 15, fans with a Pit and Infield Fan Zone Experiencepass will be able to participate in a walk around the track at Chicagoland Speedway led by members of the Coca-Cola Racing Family. The Coca-Cola Family Track Walk program is an experience that encourages health and happiness and brings the community together. It provides thousands of fans with the chance to get out and get active by taking a lap of their own with their favorite drivers – on foot.
As a long-time supporter of NASCAR, Coca-Cola has been involved with stock car racing for more than 50 years and has been the official sparkling beverage of NASCAR since 1998. Through its partnerships with industry leaders, Coca-Cola refreshes racing fans at the majority of NASCAR-sanctioned tracks, including Chicagoland Speedway.
Chicagoland Speedway fans will have an exclusive opportunity to participate in the event, as the Coca-Cola Family Track Walk only visits three tracks in 2013. In order to gain access to the pre-race track walk, in addition to having a GEICO 400 race ticket, fans will need to purchase a Pit and Infield Fan Zone Experience pass which is available for $50, a benefit that is free for 2013 Season Ticket Holders. With the Sunday Pit and Infield Fan Zone Experience pass fans can also enjoy access to NASCAR personalities Q&A sessions, tech inspection viewing areas, access onto pit road, and an up-close access, from the front stretch grass, of GEICO 400 driver introductions and pre-race concert performance by country music star Brantley Gilbert.
All fans with a GEICO 400 race ticket will have the ability to access the track immediately following the conclusion of the race. Fans will be able to sign the start/finish line that some of their favorite NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers crossed including the winner of this year’s GEICO 400.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Greg Biffle visited the Richmond area today, thrilling media with high-speed laps around Richmond International Raceway, followed by an autograph and Q&A session, co-hosted by Richmond’s Rock 96.5, at a nearby Buffalo Wild Wings Biffle will return to Richmond in just a few weeks for the Federated Auto Parts 400 – “One Last Race to Make the Chase” – on Saturday, September 7.
After meeting with local media outside the restaurant, Biffle engaged fans of all ages in a Q&A session. The session, led by RIR Track President Dennis Bickmeier, took place in front of the lunch crowd at Buffalo Wild Wings and was followed by autograph signings.
Currently ranked ninth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings, Biffle hopes to gain ground in the points battle this weekend at Michigan International Speedway, where he’s won two races in a row. If not, he could join what is looking like a crowded group of drivers vying for the final few spots in the Chase when they return to Richmond on Saturday, September 7. This year’s “One Last Race to Make the Chase” is shaping up to be one of the most unforgettable.
"Richmond is one of the fastest short tracks we go to - it’s important," said Biffle. "It’s the final straw to make it into the Chase. Richmond carries a lot of importance for us to run well and make the Chase. We’re on the bubble spot, bee’s nest, whatever you want to call it. There’s going to be 10 or 12 drivers fighting for those last spots."
Roush Fenway Racing’s Travis Pastrana and the No. 60 Ford Mustang finished 31stat the inaugural Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200, Saturday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
“The goal was to take it easy and avoid the carnage,” Pastrana said. “I didn't flat spot one tire and didn't have a scratch on the car until just past the halfway mark. I made a mistake, put a tire in the grass and spun into a bridge. The guys did a great job getting the car back going, but my day was effectively over.”
The NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) traveled to the title sponsor’s home state of Ohio, for the first ever NNS race from Mid-Ohio. The teams were allowed an extra day of practice on Thursday to learn the new course.
Pastrana went out with the fifth qualifying group on Saturday morning, putting the No. 60 in 18th for the start of the 200-mile race on the 2.4-mile road course. The race took the green flag shortly after 2 p.m. ET. Pastrana settled into the top-20, radioing that the car did not have enough forward drive on the opening run.
A caution on Lap 19 brought the No. 60 Ford Mustang down pit road for the first time of the day on Lap 21. The team took four tires and fuel, along with air pressure and track bar adjustments. Pastrana took the restart in 19th, radioing to the crew shortly thereafter that the adjustment did not go in the right direction.
Pastrana and the No. 60 Ford Mustang maintained position in the top-15 throughout the middle portion of the race. Shortly after the halfway point, Pastrana made contact with the wall, forcing the No. 60 down pit road for damage repair on Lap 55. Pastrana returned to the course, but the damage was too severe to continue.
He made his way down pit road again on Lap 58. After surveying the car again, the team decided to take the No. 60 back into the garage to complete the repairs. Pastrana returned to the course on Lap 63 in 35th, eight laps down.
Pastrana gained four more positions through attrition, ultimately crossing the finish line in 31st, nine laps down.
- Richard Childress Racing teammates finished fourth (Max Papis), 12th (Brian Scott) and 21st (Austin Dillon).
- Dillon is tied for third in the Nationwide Series driver championship point standings, trailing leader Sam Hornish, Jr. by 15 points, while Scott is seventh in the standings, 63 points behind the leader.
- The No. 3 Chevrolet team ranks sixth in the Nationwide Series owner championship point standings, with the No. 2 team ninth in the standings and the No. 33 team 13th.
- According to NASCAR's Post Race Loop Data Statistics, Papis ranked second in Quality Passes (25), had the fourth-best Driver Rating (107.5) and ranked fifth in Average Running Position (8.047).
- Scott ranked eighth in Speed in Traffic (92.879 mph).
- Dillon ranked third in Green Flag Passes with 72.
- AJ Allmendinger earned his second victory of the 2013 Nationwide Series season and was followed to the finish line by Michael McDowell, Hornish, Papis and Brian Vickers.
- The next Nationwide Series race is the Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday, August 23rd. The 23rd race of the 2013 season is scheduled to be televised live on ESPN beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time and broadcast live on the Performance Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR Satellite Radio Channel 90.
Brian Scott Earns a 12th-Place Finish at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Brian Scott and Richard Childress Racing's No. 2 Shore Lodge team were on tap for their first top-10 road course finish of the season, but a late race caution and unfortunate pit road penalty consigned Scott to a 12th-place finish in the NASCAR Nationwide Series' inaugural appearance at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the Buckeye State. The Boise, Idaho-native took the green flag from the 12th spot Saturday afternoon for the scheduled 90-lap event. During the opening portion of the event, Scott reported that he needed more rear grip. The afternoon's first caution flag was displayed on lap 20, which gave the No. 2 Shore Lodge driver the opportunity to hit pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Green-flag racing resumed on lap 23 with Scott in the 12th position. The 25-year old Nationwide Series driver ran a consistent race navigating each corner with skill and avoided trouble. When green-flag racing resumed on lap 66, Scott advanced from 12th to seventh after several competitors veered off track or spun. In the closing laps of the race, the Nationwide Series competitor was in position for a solid top-10 finish, but a caution flag with two laps remaining created fuel concerns for the RCR team. With less than enough fuel in his tank, Scott visited pit road for a splash of Sunoco Green E15. NASCAR deemed that he entered pit road too early and forced the No. 2 Shore Lodge driver to start from the rear of the field. Upon taking the green flag from the 23rd position, Scott maneuvered his way up through the field ultimately taking the checkered flag in the 12th position.
Start - 12 Finish - 12 Laps Led - 0 Points -7th
BRIAN SCOTT QUOTE:
"We had a fast Shore Lodge Camaro, but the way these road courses work out you need some luck. We were in line for a top-10 finish, but luck wasn't on our side and we came home 12th. I'm proud of Phil (Gould, crew chief) and the guys who worked hard all weekend. We'll head to Bristol (Motor Speedway) this coming weekend and have a good run. "
Last-Lap Spin Relegates Austin Dillon to 21st-Place Finish at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Despite running within the top-10 for much of the inaugural NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Austin Dillon earned a 21st-place finish in the No. 3 AdvoCare Chevrolet after spinning on the final circuit of the 94-lap event. The Welcome, N.C., driver started the race from the rear of the field as a result of missing qualifying and the driver's meeting in favor of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practices at Michigan International Speedway earlier in the day. He gained track position by staying out on the racing surface while the majority of the competitors pitted under a full course caution on lap 20, advancing to second in the running order. Dillon remained in the top five until making his first pit stop of the race on under caution on lap 25, dropping him to the 26th spot for the restart. Dillon led lap 59 to gain a championship bonus point before making his next green flag pit stop on lap 60. Just a few laps later, he was punted from behind and ran off course on lap 67, dropping him from 10th to 25th in the running order. He raced his way up to 12th, but was again spun on the white-flag lap and ultimately posted a 21st-place finish.
Start - 13 Finish - 21 Laps Led - 2 Points - 3
Max Papis Earns a Top-Five Finish at Mid Ohio
When the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 began at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday afternoon, Max Papis and the No. 33 Menards/Rheem Chevrolet team lined up 10th. In the early going around the 2.258-mile road course, Papis did what he does best on the left and right-turn tracks by starting out strong. He gained two positions in the first five laps and remained there until the first caution waved on lap 20. Crew chief Ernie Cope stuck to the team's pre-race strategy and kept Papis out on the track while other teams headed for pit road. When the race restarted on lap 23, Papis had the lead and held onto it for three circuits. The second caution flag waved on lap 26 as Cope called the Italian-born driver to pit road for four new tires with different air pressures, a full tank of fuel and a spring rubber change in the Chevrolet Camaro's rear end. Restarting 27th, Papis quickly moved through the field and was up to 19th for the lap 30 caution, and when the race restarted on lap 32. One lap later he was up to 14th place, 11th on lap 38 and ninth by lap 41. The team made their second pit stop, as planned, on lap 59 under green, after leading lap 58, for tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments. When the sixth caution waved on lap 63, Papis was in ninth place and fairly content how his Camaro was handling. He quickly jumped to sixth on the lap 66 restart. The final caution waved on the white flag lap, thus forcing a green-white-checkered finish and extending the race by four laps past the scheduled 90 circuits. Papis put his extensive road racing experience to use and gained two more positions to finish fourth when the checkered flag waved.
Start - 10 Finish - 4 Laps Led - 4 Owner's Points - 13rh
MAX PAPIS QUOTE:
"This Menards/Rheem Chevrolet team was pretty darn good for most of the day. We had a little problem with it being loose into the corners, but that got fixed up on the first stop. From there, we stuck to our game plan on pit road and I did my part on the track. This has been a great opportunity for me to drive for Richard Childress and Richard Childress Racing and this top-five finish was great for everyone on the team. I can't thank Menards and Rheem enough for allowing me to drive their car. Good day, very good day."
James Buescher came into the Michigan National Guard 200 at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) looking to put the previous outing behind him and his Rheem team. Coming off solid practice sessions and a stellar qualifying effort, Buescher started the 100-lap race in the third position. After dropping back in the field for the first half of the race, Buescher worked his way up to the top five with under 10 laps remaining. Coming to three laps to go, Buescher made a great move on the first and second-place trucks in Turn 3 and vaulted himself to first. Buescher grabbed the lead and never looked back, earning his first victory of 2013. In the process, Buescher moved up one position in the championship standings to third and is now just one marker behind second place.
The Rheem team felt like they had a great truck at Pocono, so they worked to quickly turn it around, preparing the chassis for this week's race at MIS. This proved to be a smart decision as the No. 31 team finished second and ninth in Friday's two practice sessions, respectively. Buescher followed up his practice results with a third-place qualifying effort for the Michigan National Guard 200. As soon as the green flag flew on the 100-lap event, it was quickly slowed by a yellow for an accident on the backstretch. Following the first restart, Buescher fell back a few positions and searched for a place to settle in and log some laps. The yellow flag flew once again on lap 17,which allowed the Rheem team to call the No. 31 truck down pit road for two right-side tires and fuel. Once the race went back to green, Buescher found himself battling for the 10th position. On lap 35, Buescher radioed to his crew that his Rheem Chevy was still a little too free entering the corners. Despite this, Buescher was recording the fastest lap times of any of the trucks on the track. The yellow flag was once again displayed on lap 57 for debris on the backstretch. This yellow put the No. 31 team within their fuel window, so Buescher came back down pit road for four tires and a slight air-pressure adjustment as his Rheem team their Chevy full with Sunoco fuel.
Following this pit stop, Buescher began to creep back into contention and move closer to the top five. With the laps dwindling down, Buescher found himself back inside the top five for the first time since lap four of the race. Following two more cautions, the No.31 Rheem team restarted in the third position, directly behind their Turner Scott Motorsports teammate Miguel Paludo. The two leaders got a great restart and Buescher dropped back to fourth with just five laps to go. Just one lap later, Buescher was able get that position back on the frontstretch. As the field was coming to three laps to go, Buescher made a move down to the bottom of Turn 3 and passed both first and second place, giving Buescher the lead. The 23-year-old never looked back and went on to win his first race of the 2013 season. This victory moves Buescher up to third in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Driver Points Standings, just one point behind second place.
"I've got to thank everyone on this team and really want to thank Rheem for coming on board with us this year," said Buescher. "I knew we had a shot at this, but the first half of the race was tough. We couldn't catch any breaks and couldn't get into position where we needed to be, and it was tough battling through traffic. We got the balance right at the end and figured out where I needed to position myself to make passes at the end. I can't say enough about these guys. They never give up, and we're going to go after that championship now."
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will return right back to action under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway Wednesday August 18 at 8pm live on Fox Sports 1.
- Richard Childress Racing teammates finished third (Ty Dillon) and eighth (Brendan Gaughan).
- Dillon is fourth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver championship point standings, 62 markers behind the leader; while Gaughan ranks sixth in the standings, 74 points out of the top spot.
- The No. 3 Chevrolet team is fifth in the Camping World Truck Series owner championship point standings, with the No. 62 team eighth in the standings.
- According to NASCAR's Post-Race Loop Data Statistics, Dillon earned the second-highest Driver Rating (113.1), while Gaughan ranked ninth with a rating of 87.9.
- Combined, Dillon and Gaughan posted the Fastest Laps Run 12 times during the event, ranking them third and ninth respectively.
- Dillon tied for fourth in the Closers category and was the Fastest Driver Late in a Run.
- Dillon scored the seventh-highest Average Running Position of 7.480, while Gaughan was ninth in the category (8.750).
- James Buescher took the checkered flag and was followed to the line by Kyle Busch, Dillon, Joey Logano and Miguel Paludo.
- The next scheduled Camping World Truck Series race is the UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Wednesday, August 21. The 13th race of the 2013 season is scheduled to be televised live on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern Time, and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.
Ty Dillon Earns Triumphant Third-Place Finish in Michigan
After suffering from a pit road mishap and falling out of the top 15, Ty Dillon and the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops team clawed their way to a third-place finish at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday afternoon. Dillon started the 100-lap affair from the fifth position, but was shuffled back to 12th on the initial green flag start. The Richard Childress Racing driver worked through traffic, making his way back into the top five and was scored second on lap 45. Under caution on lap 55, crew chief Marcus Richmond called Dillon to put road for four tires and two cans of fuel. During the pit stop, the No. 3 machine slipped off the jack causing the team multiple spots on the race track. Dillon returned to the racing surface in the 18th position on lap 60. During the course of the next 40 laps, Dillon maneuvered through the field and improved his position to third, before crossing the finish line at Michigan International Speedway.
Start - 5 Finish - 3 Laps Led - 0 Points - 4th
TY DILLON QUOTE:
"This is a small victory in my book. We had a mistake on pit road that cost us quite a few spots, but we had a really fast Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet and made up the ground to come back to third. My spotter, Billy (O'Dea), did a great job keeping me out of trouble. I'm hoping to ride this momentum into next week and put this bad luck behind us."
Gaughan Finishes Eighth at Michigan International Speedway
Start - 2 Finish - 8 Laps Led - 0 Points - 6th
BRENDAN GAUGHAN QUOTE:
"This definitely wasn't the finish we wanted or deserved today. We had such a strong South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Silverado this weekend, and the boys worked so hard to get us back up front at the end. We went three wide at the end, I got stuck in the middle by myself and we just lost track position."
Matt Crafton, in the immediate aftermath of his ninth-place finish in Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Michigan National Guard 200, was having a hard time finding much to be cheerful about at Michigan International Speedway.
"We definitely had a better truck than what we finished," Crafton said, particularly citing two restarts in the race's last 25 laps. "We lost track position and I started on the outside, but then it's like everybody shuffled and then it's just you try to be a little bit smart and you can't put yourself in a bad position...
"But when we got ourselves hung back there it was just damned if you do, damned if you don't."
Crafton's championship-leading No. 88 Great Lakes Wood Floors / Menards Toyota started sixth and actually moved up into the top-five for most of the first half of the race, where he challenged polesitter Jeb Burton, who led the race's first 16 laps, for the lead early.
But in the end, Crafton and his ThorSport Racing team survived a wild, swirling melee of a last few laps in Michigan's high-speed draft and Crafton scored his 12th consecutive top-10 finish this season -- and he out-ran his closest championship contender, Burton, by one spot.
But defending series champion James Buescher won the race and Burton, who won his series-best fourth Coors Light Pole Award on Saturday morning and led the most laps, picked up a point on Crafton. Buescher picked up 12.
Thus, Crafton's unofficially 51 points ahead of Burton and 52 ahead of Buescher heading to Wednesday night's 13th event of the 22-race season, at Bristol Motor Speedway.
That event might either give Crafton an opportunity to be more aggressive or to continue the tack he's employed thus far, carefully weighing his options, and their ramifications, before he makes any rash moves.
"I could have been a little bit more aggressive, maybe," Crafton said. "And taken a little more chances and maybe got up a few more spots, but... You had to have track position -- it was everything.
"The 31 (Buescher), he got one run on the (last) restart -- he started right in front of me and then all of the sudden he wins the race. It was just all about momentum on the restarts and we just never had really good ones there towards the end for whatever it was worth."
Crafton could have been in the position of his ThorSport teammate Johnny Sauter, who had a truck that was as good as Crafton's despite suffering fender damage on the race's third lap, only to get completely wiped out in a multi-truck accident and finish 20th.
Quasi-teammate Brett Moffitt, whose Hattori Racing Enterprises Tundra was being tended by ThorSport crew chief Jeriod Prince and his ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards championship-leading crew, was looking at a top-10 finish with less than 10 laps to go until it hit the wall and finished 17th.
Still, Crafton was blunt when he evaluated the race.
"Bad day -- we've got to run better," Crafton said. "We lost points, but at the same time we didn't lose a ton of points. The 4 (Burton) was behind us but like I said, looking back at points racing, that's stupid.
"We're only halfway through the season (Saturday) -- we have 10 more races to go so there's a lot of racing to be done before we talk about points and championships."