HOMESTEAD (AP) — After 13 seasons, Matt Crafton won the NASCAR Truck Series championship tonight at Homestead Miami Speedway.
Crafton won the NASCAR Truck Series championship even before the green flag dropped Friday night.READ MORE: 'Hidden Worlds': An immersive voyage into deepest oceans & mesmerizing mangroves through state-of-the-art technology
With a nearly insurmountable 46-point lead over Ty Dillon, all Crafton needed to do was start the 200-mile finale to secure his first series championship in 13 seasons.
So when his engine fired and he took the track, it became official. Of course, Crafton had to wait more than an hour and half to start the party.
And it ended up being a subdued celebration.
Sprint Cup regular Kyle Busch won the race, his fifth victory of the season in the Truck Series. And with Crafton crossing the finish line 21st, Busch earned himself the owners’ championship.
Crafton needed to finish 20th or better to clinch the title for longtime team owner Duke Thorson. But Crafton was involved in a late wreck, damaging the front end of his No. 88 Toyota and forcing the team to sweat out the final few laps.
Ryan Blaney finished second, followed by Jeb Burton, Brendan Gaughan and Ron Hornaday Jr.
Crafton had his lowest finish of the season.
Nonetheless, the 37-year-old Crafton become the first driver in the series’ 19 years to complete every lap in a season.READ MORE: Haiti's contributions to South Florida in full display at Haitian Heritage Month Art Exhibition
Crafton essentially wrapped up the championship last week at Phoenix.
He extended his record for the most consecutive starts in the Truck Series to 316. He has just one victory this season — he won at Kansas in April — but had a remarkable 19 top-10 finishes in 22 starts.
Crafton was rewarded with a contract extension with ThorSport Racing on Thursday, ensuing he will be drive a 10th season for Thorson.
He spent the early part of Friday’s race near the front of the field. But he found himself 17th on the first of three green-white-checkered restarts. Back in the pack, he got caught up in a multi-truck wreck.
Joey Coulter turned into Crafton shortly after the restart, setting off a melee Brennan Newberry shot across the track twice, hitting an inside wall and then the outside wall. Crafton’s truck had significant front-end damage.
Another restart ended with another wreck, setting the stage for one final shot.
It wasn’t incident free, but officials let the drivers race to the finish.
No one could catch Busch.
He has 21 victories this season in NASCAR’s three national series, also winning four times in Cup and 12 in Nationwide. Overall, he has 126 victories — 28 in Cup, a record 63 in Nationwide and 35 in Truck.MORE NEWS: Gov. Ron DeSantis signs property insurance, condo safety reforms into law
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