HOMESTEAD-MIAMI, Fla. — Earlier in 2019, the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series introduced the “Triple Truck Challenge”, but on Friday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the championship race featured a “triple winner” in it’s 134 lap feature.
Short of a “triple burnout”, there were three separate celebrations to conclude the 2019 season, including the Driver’s Champion, the Owner’s Champion, and the overall race winner.
2019 NASCAR GANDER OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES CHAMPION: MATT CRAFTON
Without a victory on the 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series season, Matt Crafton did everything he needed to do to still come out on top as the 2019 Series Champion.
“It’s one step closer to what Hornaday has done, and they called us the underdog,” Crafton said on the frontstretch. “I heard (Todd) Bodine and everybody say I was the underdog and I didn’t have it.
“We fought harder. I guarantee you every one of these guys worked harder, and this Menard Ford F-150 was fast tonight. The first run I was like, ‘Oh, boy we’re in trouble,’ but we just made air-pressure adjustments from there.
“We made a few adjustments to tighten it up because we thought the track was gonna be green it was gonna go away, but this thing ran flawless all night and the motor was very good as well and everything just went our way. I was praying there, ‘I do not want a yellow right here at the end of this thing.'”
Crafton finished in second place, leading nine laps during the event.
With the trophy in hand, Crafton now has three career NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Championships, and ties Jack Sprague for second on the all-time championships list.
Crafton bested Ross Chastain, who finished fourth, Brett Moffitt, who came home in fifth, and Stewart Freisen, who soldiered home to an 11th place finish.
2019 OWNER’S CHAMPION: NO. 51 KYLE BUSCH MOTORSPORTS TOYOTA
The No. 88 ThorSport Racing Ford was not eligible for the 2019 Owner’s Championship, despite taking the Driver’s Championship on Friday night.
Qualifying into the Owner’s Championship 4 last week with Brandon Jones behind the wheel, the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota team tabbed Christian Eckes to run in the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Eckes led the field at one point during the final stage of the day, and had to beat the No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet, the No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet, and the No. 52 Halmar Friesen Chevrolet, all of which were being piloted by Driver’s Championship 4 competitors.
“Rudy (Fugle) made a great call,” Eckes said. “We were able to lead some laps and come home third. It’s awesome to get another championship for these guys. I’m just ready for 2020.”
The No. 51 wound up finishing third overall at the end of the day, but ahead of the rest to be able to win Kyle Busch Motorsports’ record setting seventh Owner’s Title.
Eckes has also been tabbed to compete full-time with Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2020, driving the No. 18 Toyota.
FORD ECOBOOST 200 RACE WINNER: AUSTIN HILL
First to cross the line was Austin Hill, driving the No. 16 Hattori Racing Toyota, the race winner in the Ford EcoBoost 200.
“”I just have to give it all to my guys,” Hill said in victory lane. “This is probably the best truck that I’ve had. I know we were really good at Vegas, but man, this thing was good.
“At Vegas we were on a different tire strategy than other guys, but we weren’t this time and we just showed then how good we actually were. I’m excited for the win, but at the same time it stings a little bit because I know if we would have been a little better in the Round of 6, we could be celebrating a win and a championship.”
Hill, nor his team, were racing for any championships on Friday night after getting eliminated at ISM Raceway last week, but they were able to bookend the season with victories at Daytona and Homestead-Miami, with two other race wins on the year to make four total.
Hill led the most laps on the night, 56 total, and led five different times, including the final 23.
— NASCAR Gander Trucks (@NASCAR_Trucks) November 16, 2019
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