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

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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.

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Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”