John Wes Townley came out on the winning end of a fuel-mileage race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
In his 87th NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start, the 25-year-old racer finally made it to Victory Lane. Townley led 23 laps, taking the lead for the final time with four laps remaining as Matt Crafton was forced onto pit road, running low on fuel. He wasn't alone.
Other frontrunners including Cameron Hayley and championship leader Erik Jones ran out of fuel before the checkered flag. Townley credited his spotter and veteran racer Terry Cook as the reason why he was able to make it to the finish.
The race kicked off with Jones starting from the rear and Crafton leading the way from pole pole position. 15 laps in, disaster struck in the fourth turn. Tyler Reddick got sideways and as he tried to catch the Truck, he made contact with his Brad Keselowski Racing teammate Austin Theriault, sending the No. 29 careening head-on into a concrete wall that was that not protected by a SAFER Barrier.
Theriault needed assistance when he attempted to exit the wreckage and sat down before being placed on a backboard and airlifted to a local hospital. The latest update came from his FB page, reading "Austin is coherent and communicating. He has been taken to the hospital for testing and evaluation. We thank you all for your support."
Townley and Johnny Sauter also spent some time out front early in the race, but with roughly 100 laps to go, it all went awry for the ThorSport driver. Sauter was battling for second with John Hunter Nemechek when the two made contact. Nemechek drove his Truck out of a spin, but Sauter wasn't as lucky.
Costly mistake for Hayley
The third ThorSport driver, Cameron Hayley, emerged as a contender and led many laps during the middle portion of the race. He even passed teammate Crafton under green to take control of the race on the 70th lap, pulling away before a costly pit stop error with just over 50 to go. He blew through his box and needed to back up. After the cycle, Crafton was in control and Hayley was six seconds back of the lead.
The race went green to the finish from there and it was a cat and mouse game as all those up front tried to maintain their track position, while also saving fuel. Crafton, Hayley and Jones all failed to make it but Townley did, winning the race 3.8 seconds clear of Timothy Peters. Ben Kennedy, Nemechek and Brandon Jones rounded out the top five.
Championship battle tightens
Crafton finished eighth after leading the most laps (69) and his title rivals weren't far away with Reddick seventh and Jones ninth.
The points gap between the top three has gotten even tighter after Saturday night's race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Crafton is now just four points behind Jones and despite damage sustained in that Lap 15 accident, Reddick has cut his margin to Jones down to 16 points.
Five races remain to decide the 2015 champion with the next being at Talladega Superspeedway in two weeks.