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.

Top Fuel driver Austin Prock earns 2019 NHRA top rookie honors

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Having just completed a promising first year in NHRA Top Fuel competition, Austin Prock is on the road to even greater drag racing success in his career.

That’s why it’s not surprising that Prock was named the winner of the 2019 Auto Club Road to the Future Award during Monday night’s annual NHRA Awards dinner at the Ray Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California.

The Road to the Future Award is NHRA’s version of Rookie of the Year, and Prock was among the brightest young stars on the circuit this past season, including winning his first national event at the Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in suburban Seattle, the 16th race on the 24-race schedule.

What made that first win all the more sweeter is it came at the same event that his boss, legendary 16-time Funny Car champion John Force, captured his milestone 150th career win.

One month ago, Prock set a personal best run of 3.688 seconds at 334.40 mph over veteran driver Doug Kalitta in the first round of eliminations at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals three weeks ago in Ennis, Texas (suburban Dallas).

“I am proud of the season this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team put together,” Prock said in a media release. “My guys worked their asses off all season long to give me the opportunity to win the Auto Club Road the Future Award. I couldn’t have done it without them.

“I would have never been here without John Force and Robert Hight (president of John Force Racing). They gave me the opportunity to fulfill my dream and I owe the world to them. I hope I made them proud.”

Prock became only the 10th rookie in the history of the NHRA pro ranks to both win a race in their first season and also go on to win the Road to the Future award. He also was the 13th rookie in the sport’s history to qualify for the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six race playoffs.

Prock becomes the sixth John Force Racing driver to earn the Road to the Future Award, joining Tony Pedregon (1996), Hight (2005), Ashley Force-Hood (2007), Mike Neff (2008), Courtney Force (2012) and Brittany Force (2013).

Austin Prock is the son of veteran crew chief Jimmy Prock, who tuned Hight to his third career NHRA Funny Car championship this past Sunday.

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