Before tonight’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, there were 16 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races completed in the 2012 season: None of them leaving fans disappointed.
That didn’t change one bit Saturday night at Las Vegas.
When the race started off with a spin by Todd Bodine before one laps had even been completed, it appeared as though it was going to be a long night with four caution flags within the first 30 laps of the race.
As things started to settle down, Parker Kligerman assumed the race lead on lap 37 which he would hold until he came down pit road on lap 70.
However, that was the final time Kligerman would lead Saturday night after a speeding penalty on pit road trapped the No.7 truck two laps behind the leader.
While Kligerman showed the way nearly 40 laps, it was pole sitter Joey Coulter that looked to have the strongest truck on the night.
Leading 40 laps on the night, Coulter’s No.22 Chevrolet set the high mark for laps led amiss trading the lead back-and-forth with a total of 16 other drivers.
But when Nelson Piquet Jr. took the lead on lap 107, the battle between himself and Matt Crafton picked up.
Crafton gained the top-spot on lap 125, but Piquet Jr. took it back mere seconds before final caution flag of the night flew on lap 127 of 146 when debris from the damaged truck of Kligerman flew onto the race track.
On the final restart, Coulter was able to regain the top spot with three and four-wide racing taking place behind him which resulted in Piquet Jr. hitting the outside wall coming out of the second turn while racing for the lead. However, that would be the final lap Coulter would see out front as Crafton retook the lead.
Looking as though he was well on his way to claiming his first win of the 2012 season, Crafton was forced to hold off a charging Piquet Jr. in the closing laps.
After numerous attempts to pass Crafton, Piquet Jr. made a daring move on the final lap as the two drivers entered the first turn, clearing Crafton for the lead coming out of the second corner.
Pulling away from Crafton, Piquet Jr. went on to win Saturday night’s Smith’s 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I have no idea what happened,” said Piquet Jr. in victory lane. “I thought, ‘I gotta give it a last try’. I stuck it in there and God gave me a little bit more grip on the inside and we made it.”
“We really needed this win. Probably one of the best ones of my career…for sure one of the top-five wins of my career.”
For Piquet Jr., it’s his second win of the 2012 season and the second win of his Camping World Truck Series career.
“I knew the 88 (Crafton) was running a bit high out front because he was tight. I dived in and I managed to keep it down and get in front of him.
“It was win, or wreck and go back home.”
While Piquet Jr. basked in the joy of victory, Crafton was relegated to his third second place finish at LVMS after leading 15 laps on the night.
“It sucks, it plain and simple sucks,” said Crafton. “We had a great truck. The 30 (Piquet Jr.) was running the top, so I moved to the top trying to keep up with the momentum he was. He got a really good run off of (turn) four.
“God, this is a really,really hard one to swallow. Damn.”
With five races remaining to decide the 2012 championship, Ty Dillon leads the standings by 1 point over James Buescher heading into next weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Smith’s 350 Unofficial Results:
1: Nelson Piquet Jr.
2: Matt Crafton
3: Joey Coulter
4: Brendan Gaughan
5: Todd Bodine
6: James Buescher
7: Cale Gale
8: Timothy Peters
9: David Mayhew
10: Ty Dillon
11: Miguel Paludo
12: Grant Enfinger
13: Jason White
14: John Wes Townley
15: Travis Pastrana
16: Bryan Silas
17: Ryan Reed
18: Norm Benning
19: Paker Kligerman
20: Justin Lofton
21: Johnny Sauter
22: Ryan Sieg
23: Brennan Newberry
24: Chris Lafferty
25: Ross Chastain
26: Travis Miller
27: Ron Hornaday Jr.
28: Jennifer Jo Cobb
29: Chris Fontaine
30: Johnny Chapman
31: Dennis Setzer
32: BJ McLeod
33: Chris Jones
34: Clay Greenfield