Matt Crafton captured his third NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship with a second-place finish in Friday night’s Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Crafton finished 1.6 seconds behind race winner Austin Hill to tie Jack Sprague for second all-time in Truck Series titles.
“We didn’t win the battle but we won the war on this deal,” Crafton said. “It was such a sweet deal to put this Menards Ford F-150 in Victory Lane. I know it’s Ford’s last time here in championship weekend and it’s nothing sweeter than getting the championship and giving it to Ford and everyone that’s work so hard here.
“It’s awesome one step closer to the great Truck Series guy Ron Hornaday (has four championships). Next year maybe we can get number four.”
Crafton took the championship without winning a race during the 2019 campaign.
“I’m going to sleep really good all winter long with this trophy,” Crafton said. “When you win a race, that’s very sweet, but usually you only have one week, like four or five days to gloat about it, but I think I’ve got like two and a half months to gloat about this championship before next year.”
Hill, who was eliminated from championship contention last weekend at ISM Raceway, scored his fourth win of the season, and of his career, after leading 56 laps.
“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 said.
In his eighth career start, Christian Eckes matched his best finish, in third, and in the process helped give Kyle Busch Motorsports the owner championship. Eckes will compete full-time for KBM next season driving the No. 18 Toyota.
“It’s awesome to get another championship for these guys,” Eckes said. “I’m just ready for 2020.”
Championship 4 contenders Ross Chastain and Brett Moffitt finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
“Too loose all night, and just stayed too loose as the track we tightened our truck up, but we built free with the track all night,” Chastain said. “Never made a big enough dent in it and just too far back when it mattered.”
Johnny Sauter, Grant Enfinger, Todd Gilliland, Sheldon Creed and Parker Kligerman rounded out the top 10.
Stewart Friesen, the final driver among the Championship 4, came home 11th after fighting the handling with his No. 52 Chevrolet.
Joe Nemechek finished 14th in his record-setting 1,186 NASCAR national series start.