Talladega seemed like any other race on the circuit for NCWTS point’s leader Matt Crafton as he added to his impressive points lead. The 37-year-old’s lead was extended to 57 points over 2nd place Ty Dillion at the end of Satruday’s Fred’s 250 presented by Coca-Cola at Talladega Superspeedway.
James Buescher had high hopes riding into Talladega on Saturday. The optimism of the No. 31 Turner Scott Motorsports team died down after a crash on the backstretch with Ron Hornaday. James fell to 3rd in the point standings and sits a devastating 58 points behind Crafton after finishing in the 26th position.
Ty Dillion came home in the 14th spot after a horrible crash coming to the checkers. Dillion moved to 2nd in the standings ahead of James Buescher. Unless something goes horribly wrong for Dillion he should be in good position to remain inside the top five in points, he is 35 points to good from being outside the top five.
Johnny Sauter survived the carnage on the front stretch and wound up the victor for the first time in his career at Talladega. Sauter moved up to 6th in points, hoping to crack the top five so he will be featured at the season-ending awards banquet. Sauter is a simple four points behind 5th in points, Miguel Paludo. The win marked Johnny’s 9th career NCWTS victor in over 100 starts.
“It’s like any restrictor-plate race: pretty crazy,” Sauter said. “I looked in my rearview mirror and saw smoke and trucks were spinning everywhere. I saw Matt was gone and I was like, ‘Uh oh, this isn’t good.’”
Jeb Burton was involved in an incident with Clay Greenfield that would eventually give Burton a long wait in the garage. Burton stays 4th in points despite finishing 18th in his Chevrolet. Burton is just 10 points inside the top five. The performance over the next four weeks will be the deciding factor whether the rookie, Jeb is recognized at the awards banquet.
“We could’ve had it on that last lap but everyone was racing hard and unfortunately, things happen like that at this track,” said Burton. “I’m just glad that everyone is ok and we were all able to walk away from that wreck. This type of incident just shows how much NASCAR has put into its safety initiatives for us drivers and I’m really thankful for that. I know that I definitely struggled with patience during the race and I learned a lot about this type of racing. I’m looking forward to getting to my favorite track, Martinsville, next weekend and hope we can get another pole and land this thing in victory lane.”
Miguel Paludo is another driver who is able to keep his spot inside the top five. Paludo and the No. 32 squad have had a quiet but successful 2013 NCWTS season. This weekend in Talladega put a damper on that as he went upside down and finished a disappointing 19th. Paludo’s also trying to make it to the awards banquet as he has a slight four point cushion over 6th place Johnny Sauter.
“That was a wild ride,” said Paludo after being released from infield care. “We had a run going at the end and we were going to the front, and then everything happened. I’m very glad that everyone involved in that crash was okay. I have to thank my team for building me such a safe truck. I also have to thank Clay [Greenfield] for getting to my truck so quickly. He was involved in that wreck too and could have just worried about himself, but he got to me right away and that meant a lot. This obviously isn’t the way we wanted to finish but it didn’t hurt us in the points too much and we have a lot to be grateful for. We ran really well at Martinsville in the spring so I can’t wait to get back to short-track racing and keeping all four wheels on the ground.”
NSCS driver Dave Blaney has seen his son (Ryan Blaney) do impressive things in his early career, Ryan is trying to add to that column with a top five in points come the season’s end. Blaney was involved in a crash late in Saturday’s 250 miler that set up a GWC (Green-White-Checkered) finish. Blaney’s crew got him back out there and he salvaged a 21st place finish. Blaney sits 7th in the points hoping for perseverance from his crew as he is in quest of that top five in points. Blaney currently is 16 points behind 5th place Miguel Paludo.
“What a disappointing afternoon for all of the Cooper Standard guys. We had a very good Truck, but not being able to battle for the lead was disappointing” said Ryan Blaney “I wish Martinsville was tomorrow, ready to get there.”
The gold sits in wait of one champion, and unless the No. 88 team slips up big time it looks as though Crafton is en route to his first NASCAR championship. Although, four weeks remain for some young drivers to break it or make it in that top five in points. Finishing top five in points isn’t just about getting recognized at the banquet, but it’s about deciding the future of your career