James Buescher won the Camping World Truck Series championship Friday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway as a late-race challenge by Ty Dillon was eliminated by a crash as the Ford EcoBoost 200 ended in fire and fury.
Cale Gale won the race by outrunning Sprint Cup invader Kyle Busch in a dramatic two-lap dash to the finish as their trucks banged together while crossing the finish line. Gale won by .014 of a second for his first series victory.
Busch held the race lead with three laps to go, and Dillon was moving briskly through the field in pursuit as he tried to make passes to make point gains on Buescher, who entered the race in first place. Dillon had moved into second – and was only one position away from tying Buescher in points – when he and Kyle Larson, running only his fourth Truck race, crashed while racing for the position.
Their contact sparked a multi-truck accident, and the resulting debris on the track caused a red flag. Dillon, his truck significantly damaged, dropped onto pit road but passed the pace truck and was penalized a lap.
Dillon said he thought he was clear in the turn but added that he didn’t blame Larson for the crash.
That scenario basically wrapped up the championship for Buescher, even as the trucks sat on the backstretch under the red flag. Buescher motored through the Dillon-Larson crash area without damage.
Larson drives for Turner Motorsports, also owner of Buescher’s championship trucks.
Buescher finished 13th in the race.
“We were doing everything we could,” Buescher said. “The Great Clips Chevy wasn’t going forward. I just about went in the fence myself. I held it together, and everything came our way.”
The night’s fourth caution, caused by Max Gresham’s meeting with the wall, erased a Busch lead and packed the field for a restart with four laps remaining. The Dillon-Larson crash interrupted the run to the finish.
“It’s tough that I got into a contender, but I’m racing for the win, also,” Larson said. “I kind of felt like I had position getting into the corner. I was down to the apron. I think it was hard racing. It sucks I took out Ty, but I guess it’s just hard racing.”
Following Gale at the finish were Busch, Joey Coulter, Nelson Piquet Jr and Miguel Paludo.
Gale squeezed Busch into the outside wall at the finish.
“I can tell you right now coming off four that’s not my driving style, but it’s my first chance to taste NASCAR victory lane, and I know it’s Kyle Busch, and I don’t get opportunities like this very often,” Gale said in an emotional victory lane. “I had to take it while I could.
“It’s just a dream come true for all of us. I’m just a racer from South Alabama.”
Asked to describe the final lap, Busch said, “I got drove into the fence.”
The race was not a spectacular one for championship contenders Buescher, Timothy Peters and Dillon. All three struggled with their trucks for much of the night as they tried to break into the top five.
The night’s third caution bunched the field with 26 laps to go. Johnny Sauter changed only two tires during the round of caution pit stops and thus had the lead at the green flag.
Dillon was sixth, Peters 10th and Buescher 12th when the green reappeared.
Busch quickly jumped into the lead after the green flag.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 30 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.