Sports

Crafton dominant in Truck Series race at Atlanta

Hampton, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - Two-time defending Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton won at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the first time with a dominating performance in Saturday's Hyundai Construction Equipment 200.

The 200-mile truck race capped off a NASCAR doubleheader at this 1.54-mile track. Earlier in the day, Kevin Harvick won the 250-mile Xfinity Series event here.

Crafton, who started 15th, led 85 of 130 laps in his No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota. Erik Jones, running a full-schedule in the series for Kyle Busch Motorsports this season, led 37 of the first 44 laps before Crafton passed him and took command from there.

"I was really, really disappointed in qualifying," Crafton said. "It didn't have a whole lot of single-lap speed by itself, but I knew once they dropped the green flag and this thing took off and we ran three laps, I'm like, 'We've got something for these boys. They're in trouble today'."

Crafton crossed the finish line nearly nine seconds ahead of his closest competitor, Ty Dillon, for his sixth win in his 340th consecutive and career truck start. His first win at Atlanta came in his 14th attempt. The series did not compete here the previous two seasons.

"This is my favorite racetrack, by far," Crafton said. "Now that I've got this win, it's an amazing feeling."

Last year, Crafton became the first driver to win back-to-back championships in the 20-year history of the Truck Series.

Dillon won the last truck race at Atlanta in August 2012. He is now a regular in Xfinity. Dillon was one of six drivers who competed in both NASCAR races at Atlanta on Saturday. He finished third in the Xfinity event.

"It was a great day," Dillon said. "When you come out of a racetrack like Atlanta, and it's so tough to drive here, and have two top-three finishes in two of the top three (NASCAR) series, that's awesome. I'm very happy with how the day went."

Ryan Sieg, Daniel Suarez, John Wes Townley, Cody Ware and Jones also competed in both events.

Ben Kennedy, the pole sitter, finished third in the truck race, followed by Suarez and Tyler Reddick, who won the Feb. 20 season-opener at Daytona.

Johnny Sauter, Jones, James Buescher, Timothy Peters and Joe Nemechek completed the top-10.

Brad Keselowski was the only Sprint Cup Series regular who competed in this race. Keselowski was penalized for driving through too many pit boxes on pit road in the early going and eventually fell two laps behind. He wound up finishing 15th.