For the first 80 percent of Friday’s Lucas Oil 150 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Phoenix International Raceway, Timothy Peters, driver of the No. 17 Red Horse Racing Toyota, looked like he had no chance to win. But on Lap 120, the two leaders crashed into each other during a restart and took themselves out of contention, giving first place to Peters, who battled off a last lap attack to claim his first-career win at the one-mile oval in the Arizona desert.
With just 30 laps to go, points leader Erik Jones, driver of the No. 4 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota, held the lead from Matt Crafton, second in points and on the track. Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota, aggressively tried to grab the advantage with a daring move to shortcut the dogleg, but the tail of his truck slid out and hit Jones, who made contact with the outside wall. Crafton spun towards the inside wall but he collided with his teammate Johnny Sauter, driver of the No. 98 Smokey Mountain/Curb Records Toyota, before both trucks hit the inside wall.
“I just got loose under him and I tried to chase it and when I chased it, I got into him,” said Crafton, who finished 23rd and saw his hopes of repeating as series champion disappear as he fell to third in the 2015 standings – 32 points behind Jones. “I hate it for my (crew) guys, and I didn’t want to do that to the No. 4 (of Jones).”
Peters took the lead during the ensuing caution period when Jones came into the pits for repairs on the right rear of his truck. Jones was able to complete the race, but struggled to a ninth-place finish.
“I think he (Crafton) was just trying to get a good run off of Turn 4,” said Jones, who can clinch the title with a finish of 15th or better next week. “It’s unfortunate. We definitely had the two fastest trucks. I wish we could have raced for the win side by side.”
Tyler Reddick, driver of the No. 19 Draw Tight Ford, finished fifth despite trouble during a pit stop on lap 107 that cost him track position. He battled back the rest of the way and now sits 19 points behind Jones.
Up front, Peters had to hold off a late challenge of John Hunter Nemecheck, driver of the No. 8 Anderson’s Pure Maple Syrup Chevrolet, who was just 0.310 of a second behind as Peters swept beneath the checkered flag on lap 150.
Peters win on Friday was his second of the season and his first at PIR in eight career tries; his best previous result in Arizona was fourth in November 2012. His first win this season came at Talladega Superspeedway in October.
“We had a top-five truck for sure,” said Peters after his win. “I love that the tires are burned off it and I’m looking forward to Homestead-Miami Speedway. You’ll see me there with a big ol’ smile on my face.”
Nemechek finished second and felt he could have competed for the win if he had clean air.
“It paid everything there to have clean air out front out there,” said the 18-year-old Nemechek. “Well take it, It’s definitely some motivation going to Homestead for the final race of the year.”
There were seven cautions during the race. Rising star Rico Abreu, driver of the No. 31 AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet, made his series debut but was involved in a crash on lap 46.