NASCAR Trucks: Crafton still controls title race, but Bubba looming larger

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The Camping World Truck Series championship has become a three-horse race with three races to go.

Darrell Wallace Jr.’s big win today in the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway has pulled him closer to the top of the standings.

The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver is now just 22 points behind defending series champion Matt Crafton and a mere four points behind Ryan Blaney for second.

It appeared for a while that Wallace would become Crafton’s closest pursuer in the standings by the end of the day.

After being one of the early race leaders, Blaney fell back and then dropped even farther into the field after he spun out in an incident with 64 laps to go.

At the time the red flag came out for John Wes Townley and Brandon Jones’ crash with 51 laps to go, Blaney was in 25th place.

But in a stellar drive, he moved up through the field and cracked the Top 5 again on the final lap. With a fifth-place finish, Blaney sits 18 points behind Crafton going into next weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Crafton also had an eventful afternoon, dodging several incidents in order to stay with the leaders – including the same one that had Blaney and others such as Jeb Burton and John Hunter Nemechek spinning.

Then with 13 laps to go, Crafton had to avoid the wayward German Quiroga after he had spun while fighting Wallace and Johnny Sauter for the lead going into Turn 3.

Crafton was in the Top 5 at that point, and he eventually moved up to third when Timothy Peters pushed Sauter up the track with three laps to go. Peters went by Sauter for second on the inside, and Crafton did the same to get his third-place finishing position.

With that, Crafton extended his points lead by two from the 16-point gap he had going into today.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.