Bobby Hamilton won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in a race marred by both mistakes and controversy. However, Hamilton hung tough to edge out Rick Crawford in the closing laps.
The Square D Dodge driver relieved to have his first full season of owner of Bobby Hamilton Racing be over: "It's been a long year. We needed to win this one."
Circle Bar Racing's Crawford held the lead with 35 laps to go when four trucks went racing side-to-side into turn one on a restart. However, the Ford just did not have the ability at the end to chase Hamilton down.
The race was going smoothly, if one could term the final race for the points in any type or motor sports exactly that. However, the final half was anything but smooth going. The CTS teams all believed that the last pit stop would just be fuel only, as the Goodyear tires were holding up well and most of the drivers were satisfied with their trucks.
Of course any caution periods could change that, and change they did. Crawford had the lead with David Starr in position to take it as the four main champion contenders were sitting comfortably in the top ten. Points leader since early September, Brendan Gaughan was in fifth position with over a 50-point margin back to Travis Kvapil, Dennis Setzer and Ted Musgrave.
And then the comedy of errors, along with normal problems, started during a caution. The leaders pitted for what were simple pit stops, some to just take on fuel, others to put on two new tires, or all four, or simple adjustments included to take on air in the tires.
Musgrave gained two seconds and looked to take the lead as the first driver out, but he had to pit again to adjust the rearend housing for the second time during the Ford 200 mile race. Spears Motorsports' Starr inherited the lead.
Others who had problems included Setzer, the team took five rounds out of the chassis to improve the handling of the Morgan-Dollar Motorsports Chevrolet. Roush Racing's Carl Edwards' Ford bottomed out and broke off the fly wheel ring gear, they too took valuable time on pit road.
The new champion, Kvapil also had his hiccup during the same caution as he had to bring the Xpress Motorsports Chevy back in due to a missing lug nut.
Starr lead the field to the green and they went three, then four-wide going into turn one where Crawford took the lead with 35 laps remaining. Before the field could settle into a rhythm, Tyler Walker hit the outside wall and continued before NASCAR decided to throw on the yellow lights. As Gaughan slowed, Marty Houston who was high on the outside came down on the Dodge truck sending the points leader into the wall with 33 laps to go in the race.
With the championship leader out of the race, the battle between Kvapil, Setzer and Musgrave heated up since any of the three could take the title home.
And then the controversy. On the final restart, Musgrave made a move to pass Setzer - a rule that NASCAR has already enforced this year in a Busch Series race. Musgrave was shown the black flag, taking him out of championship contention, leaving just two for the title. Kvapil edged out Setzer and won the championship.
Rounding out the top five were Starr, Andy Houston and Jack Sprague. Kvapil finished sixth with Setzer in seventh.