Bubba Wallace wraps up Truck season with fourth win, Matt Crafton earns historic second straight title

Leave a comment

There were two winners in Friday’s Ford EcoBoost 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. wound up with his fourth victory of the season, while Matt Crafton became the first driver to ever win back-to-back NCWTS championships, holding off his only remaining challenger for the crown, Ryan Blaney.

MORE: Matt Crafton becomes first back-to-back NASCAR Trucks champion

“This is definitely more emotional than Martinsville (his first NCWTS win last season),” Wallace said. “I told everybody we want it more than anybody else, let’s show it.

“I wanted that trophy on the stage, it’s a cool one, a unique one. I have all the unique ones on my shelf. I can’t thank these guys enough for all their hard work. Over two years, it’s been fun at KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports).”

Wallace is expected to jump to the Xfinity Series and race for Joe Gibbs Racing next season.

“I’m not sure what the future brings for me, but this is one hell of a way to go out,” Wallace said. “… I came home with five wins (four this season) and a hell of a season.”

Crafton, who came into the race knowing he needed to only finish 21st or higher, ultimately clinched the title with a ninth-place finish.

Blaney, meanwhile, finished fifth in the race.

“It’s a shame we couldn’t come out of here with a win, but congrats to Bubba Wallace and Matt Crafton,” Blaney told Fox Sports 1 afterward. “It was great racing them all year. It was a lot of fun.”

Crafton won the championship with 21 points to spare over Blaney (and 34 points ahead of Wallace), who put up a valiant effort under challenging circumstances.

On Lap 73, the shifter in Blaney’s truck broke, all but ending his hopes of catching and passing Crafton for the championship.

“(A broken shifter) never happens,” Blaney said. “It was broken at the base. We never had anything like it all season.”

Ironically, using a pair of vise grips, Blaney remained competitive even with the shifter problem.

Pole-sitter Kyle Larson gave Wallace all he could handle, almost moving to the front on the final lap, but Wallace proved to be too much of an immovable object, leaving Larson to finish second.

Timothy Peters rallied in the late laps to finish third, followed by Kyle Busch and Blaney.

Sixth through 10th were Tyler Reddick, Ty Dillon (subbing for an ill Brendan Newberry), Joe Nemechek, Crafton and Johnny Sauter.

Ross Chastain finished 11th, followed by Daniel Hemric, Jeb Burton, Spencer Gallagher, German Quiroga, Mason Mitchell, Ben Kennedy, Bryan Silas, Tayler Malsam and Austin Hill.

Finishing 21st through 30th were Matt Tifft, Justin Jennings, Joey Coulter, Tyler Young, Kyle Martel, Todd Peck, Derek White, Ray Black Jr., Mason Mingus and Jordan Anderson.

Rounding out the remaining six spots were Wendell Chavous, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Scott Stenzel, Norm Benning, John Wes Townley and Caleb Roark.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

James Black/IndyCar
Leave a comment

Auto racing safety has continued to improve through the decades, but the sport remains inherently dangerous, according to a new survey.

At the close of 2018, a new organization called Racing Safety United emerged with the intention of reducing drivers’ risk of being harmed.

RSU is made up of more than 30 members including former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Jerry Nadeau, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher and motorsports journalist Dick Berggren.

One of RSU’s first initiatives was to determine what current drivers thought of racing safety. The organization developed a 14-question survey and promoted it on select motorsports websites and forums. 

Participants were given the opportunity to disclose their identity or remain anonymous, and those who provided contact information were entered to win a $500 prize (for anonymous participants, the prize funds would be donated to a motorsports charity). 

More than 140 individuals participated in the survey over the course of 12 months. Below are the results of the survey:

Driver status

The vast majority of survey participants (60%) were amateur racers, while 26% of the participants were classified as Semi-Pro/Professional racers. The remaining 14% consisted of other individuals involved in the sport such as team owners and crew chiefs. 

When asked how frequently they race, 58% of driver respondents averaged 10 or more times per year on track, while 42% averaged 10 times or less.

The top five tracks respondents said they raced most often: Road Atlanta (21 votes), Watkins Glen (17 votes), Virginia International Raceway (16 votes), Mid-Ohio (16 votes), and Road America (13 votes).

Vehicular damage, injuries common

Over a third of respondents said they had been injured while racing, and almost two-thirds sasid they had suffered severe vehicle damage while racing

Driver error was cited as the top cause of vehicle damage (42 mentions), followed by concrete walls (26 mentions), mechanical failures (24 mentions), and other drivers (19 mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for better driver training/coaching, energy absorbing walls, and more technical inspections.

Almost a quarter of drivers said they had experienced racing-related concussions, and nearly half the respondents said one or multiple concussions would affect their decision to race in the future. 

Drivers primarily influenced by peers 

Roughly half the drivers said they would consider adopting new safety equipment if influenced by another driver (51 total mentions) and/or if recommended by a sanctioning body (47 total mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for drivers to become safety advocates and educate other drivers and for sanctioning bodies to mandate safety equipment. 

Drivers concerned with concrete walls

Approximately three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they believed certain race tracks were more dangerous than others. Nearly half the drivers surveyed believe that concrete walls were the primary cause of damage to drivers and vehicles. 

Drivers willing to help

Just more than three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they would be willing to join a safety alliance to advocate for safer tracks. Two-thirds of drivers said that they also would be willing to contribute to a motorsports safety fund.

Click here for the full results of RSU’s survey

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter