Fort Worth, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Ty Dillon won the WinStar World Casino 350 with a dominating performance, while Matt Crafton moved one step closer to clinching his first Camping World Truck Series championship with a 10th-place finish on Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway.
Dillon, who drives the No. 3 Chevrolet truck for Richard Childress Racing, led 130 of 147 laps. He crossed the finish line 2.7 seconds ahead of Johnny Sauter, who scored a season-sweep in the series at Texas last year. All three of Dillon's truck victories have come on 1.5-mile racetracks. He also won at Atlanta (August 2012) and Kentucky (June 2013).
"I'm just so happy," Dillon said. "My guys battled hard. We've really been fast all year but just had little things go wrong and we just haven't capitalized on races. I think today everybody got to see what happens when we put a full race together."
Dillon's win at Texas came six days after he clashed with Kevin Harvick at Martinsville. He hit Harvick from behind and spun him around with 12 laps to go. During the caution, both drivers banged fenders in retaliation. Several crew members from Dillon's team then approached Harvick's truck to express their displeasure towards him when he parked in Dillon's pit stall. Harvick, who did not compete in this race, is in his last year with RCR in the Sprint Cup Series before he moves over to Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2014 season.
On Thursday, NASCAR penalized members of Dillon's team for their actions on pit road at Martinsville. Crew member Adam Brown was indefinitely suspended from competition for throwing a hammer at Harvick's truck. Crew chief Paul (Marcus) Richmond was fined $10,000.
"It means a lot to give ourselves a clean sheet and give us something new to talk about and think about," Dillon said. "I had a good feeling about this race. I've always had belief in my guys, and I know we can win every weekend. I wasn't going to let this one get away. There was a lot of stuff built up inside of me from this past week, and I think I just let it out inside the truck tonight."
Dillon delivered the 100th NASCAR national series victory for the RCR-owned No. 3, a number that seven-time Cup Series champion Dale Earnhardt made famous in the sport. Dillon is the 21-year-old grandson of team owner Richard Childress.
"This is great, and to have my grandson win the 100th race with the No. 3, with Dale Earnhardt and Austin (Dillon, Ty's older brother) and Ty, it's just very, very special," Childress said. "It's a night that I'll remember for a long time, and the way (Ty) did it. I saw that look in his eye earlier tonight when I was talking to him. I knew he was on a mission. He's been a little quiet this week, but he spoke loud tonight in the race."
Ron Hornaday Jr. finished third, followed by Brendan Gaughan and Justin Lofton. James Buescher, the 2012 truck champion, took the sixth spot.
Darrell Wallace Jr., who became just the second African-American driver in NASCAR history to win a national series race last Saturday at Martinsville, finished seventh. Miguel Paludo was eighth and John Wes Townley ninth.
Crafton dealt with an ill-handling truck throughout this 147-lap race. He ran outside the top-10 until the last few laps.
"That was horrendously bad," Crafton said. "We were so tight when we started the race. We took wedge out of it, and we raised the track bar. We kept changing stuff. We just never gave up. I was running 19th on that last (restart) there but drove it in the top-10. I wish right now we could start the race."
Crafton now holds a 46-point lead over Buescher and a 47-point advantage over Dillon. Sauter is 74 points behind. If Crafton finishes 18th or better in the last two races -- Phoenix and Homestead -- he will claim the title, regardless of what any other driver does.
Sprint Cup regulars Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski had a frustrating race at Texas as well. Keselowski forced the first caution on lap 24 when he spun around on the frontstretch after making slight contact with Lofton. He finished one lap behind in 21st. Busch had to pit unexpectedly on lap 47 when his truck was overheating. His engine expired just before the 100-lap mark, putting the caution flag out for the third and final time and ending his night with a 28th-place finish.
"There must have been some trash on the (front) grille early, and once it got hot, these motors can't get hot and recover," Busch said. "Once they get hot, a bunch of things internally start going wrong, and eventually it gets real bad."