FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Matt Crafton was having a blast racing side-by-side with hard-charging Daniel Saurez after two late restarts.
Even better for Crafton was winning another NASCAR Truck Series race in Texas.
The final restart Friday night came with two laps left in the scheduled 167-lap race. Crafton and Saurez were pretty much side-by-side until Crafton was able to get clear out of the fourth turn and stay in front the final lap.
On a restart with 20 laps left, on fresher tires, Crafton and Saurez were close for several laps, even making contact at one point.
“We were side by side it felt like for 10 laps. I knew it wasn’t that, but he almost had me cleared a couple of times,” Crafton said. “I knew if he had me cleared, he might have won the race.”
As for the contact, Crafton described that as “just fun. That was good side-by-side racing getting into Turn 1. … We kind of bounced off each other.”
Saurez started sliding sideways after the contact but was able to keep his momentum and even showed as the leader for two laps before Crafton got back in front with 12 laps to go. Crafton rebuilt a lead of about 1.1 seconds before the last caution for Daniel Hemric’s spin.
“At one point, I thought we got it for a second. But, man, he’s good. He’s got a lot of experience,” said Saurez, a runner-up for the second week in a row driving the No. 51 Toyota for Kyle Busch’s team. “We’ve got to keep learning, keep working and hopefully we can get it done soon.”
It was the third win this year for Crafton in his No. 88 Toyota. He is the season points leader through seven races after winning the last two titles.
Crafton, who led a race-high 77 laps, also won at the 1 1/2-mile Texas track last June. Six of his eight career wins have come on superspeedways.
John Wes Townley finished third in his Chevrolet, ahead of Johnny Sauter’s Toyota and Austin Theriault’s Ford.
Crafton has finished in the top 10 in every race this season, and now has a 25-point advantage over Tyler Reddick, who overcame a pair of pit-road penalties to finish 11th, the first truck off the lead lap.
Saurez has been in the top 10 in all six of his starts.
Erik Jones was the polesitter and led 68 laps just days after his 19th birthday, and a year after walking across the stage at Texas during prerace introductions in a cap and gown on the same night he was in the truck race instead of at his high school graduation ceremony in Swartz Creek, Michigan.
Jones, still third in season points, had issues with his alternator, and changed the battery on pit road at least three times. He finished 15th at the track where in April he won in the Xfinity Series.
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