Saturday, September 29th – Las Vegas Motor Speedway -
Nelson Piquet Jr got every fan at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and the entire country of Brazil up on their feet as he made a stunning last lap pass of Matt Crafton to win the Smith’s 350 on Saturday Night. There was a Truck Series record of18 lead changes breaking the old record of 15 set in 2009.
“That sucked” summed up Crafton when speaking with reporters after the race. “I ran wide open the last 15 laps and thought we had it.” As the white flag flew, Crafton went to the top lane to try and block Piquet Jr. who dove to the bottom and made it stick. “Once he cleared me and got in the clean air, there was no way I could catch him,” said Crafton.
It is the second win of the season for Piquet Jr who also won at Michigan. Nelson has made 47 Camping World Series starts and this is his 11th Top-10 finish. “This is one of the biggest wins of my career. Me and Chris (Carrier) have been working so hard all year, and we’ve had some bad luck. Every time I come here (Vegas), I have to remind myself that I am here to work and not just for the fun. Winning here with a last lap pass – nothing feels better than that.”
There were 8 cautions during the race – but the scariest moment came on lap 116 when Miguel Paludo made contact with Justin Lofton. Lofton made a valiant effort to save his truck and keep it off the wall – but the banking shot him to the bottom of the race where Johnny Sauter had no where to go. Paludo was the only truck to escape with minor damage.
Sauter and Lofton were evaluated and released from the infield care center and then the Speed Camera’s got a hold of them both. Sauter did not hold back – questioning the skill of “other drivers,” adding they had no business on a NASCAR Track. He then threw in a reference to racing legend A.J Foyt and in a moment, Sauter had started a new hashtag on Twitter was born. #AJisPissed
Ty Dillon came into Vegas with a four-point lead for the Championship and kept that top spot – all be it with a smaller margin. It was Dillon’s first race at LVMS and he heads to Talladega with a tiny one-point lead over James Buescher who finished P6. Dillon won the ARCA race at ‘Dega last year and is hoping that success transfers to his truck.
Parker Kligerman won’t be upset when he’s leaving Las Vegas – with five second place finishes this season he has yet to make it to Victory Lane and was hoping this trip to Sin City would be the winner – but on lap 127 he brushed the wall and blew a tire – laps later as the tire pressure sank… he hit the wall harder. Kligerman finished 20 laps down in P17.
Hometown favorite Brendan Gaughan finished P4 after starting P6 – he ran his beloved high-line all day and kept his RCR Truck in the Top-5. NASCAR estimated attendance at 24,000 and each one of those fans screamed loudest when Brendan was introduced.
One of the drivers making lemonade was series Veteran Todd Bodine, a previous winner at LVMS, spun on the first lap of the race – but The Onion and his team worked hard the rest of the race to recover and more than salvaged a fifth place finish.
Daredevil Travis Pastrana recovered from a sixth-lap spin to finish 15th and on the lead lap in his truck series debut.
NASCAR and the fans took a moment of silence to pay tribute to late Chris Economaki during opening ceremonies. It was a nice moment as a hush spread over the normally wild pre-race crowd.
Full Audio of Nelson Piquet’s Post-Race Presser:
If that embedded player does not work (iPhone and iPad) you can download the file here.