The two-time and defending series champion was not to be denied today.
Matt Crafton's No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota was the class of the field at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday. Crafton took the lead on lap 45 of the Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the track and led the remaining 85 laps on his way to the win.
"It's all about these guys building fast trucks in Sandusky, Ohio," Crafton said. "I'm looking forward to the rest of the season.
The first losers
Ty Dillon finished a distant second, nearly nine seconds behind the winner.
"We had a good run," Dillon said. "We battled up through there, and our guys did a great job dialing this thing in."
Ben Kennedy and Daniel Suarez waged a battle for third late in the race. Kennedy won that battle, relegating Suarez to fourth at the finish. The third-place finish tied a career-best for Kennedy.
"Daniel and I were going back and forth," Kennedy said.
Reddick fresh off Daytona triumph, places fifth
Last week's winner at Daytona International Speedway, Tyler Reddick, rounded out the top-five. With the top-five finish, Reddick maintained the championship points lead. He came out of Atlanta with a two-point lead over Crafton. Still, Reddick wasn't happy with his finish.
"The night was filled with a lot of mistakes on my part," Reddick said. "The driver just gave up a lot of track position on pit road."
Those mistakes included speeding during an early-race pit stop.
Kennedy started on the pole, after Brad Keselowski was thought to be the race pole sitter. After NASCAR reviewed video footage of qualifying, Keselowski was determined to have not completed his third-round qualifying lap before time ran out, handing the pole over to Kennedy. With Keselowski's lap time erased, Kennedy's time in the third round of the qualifying session was the only lap time posted among the 12 drivers advancing to the final round.
Erik Jones took the top spot from Kennedy at the start of the race, but his first time up front was short-lived. Keselowski, after starting 10th, stayed out while everyone else pitted during the second caution of the race that came out on lap 18. Jones was able to take advantage of Keselowski on older tires and retook the lead on the restart.
Off sequence from the rest of the field, Keselowski headed for pit road under green several laps later, and his race went from bad to worse when he was penalized for passing through too many pit stalls. In the end, Keselowski wound up 15th, one lap down.
Jones wound up finishing seventh after a bad day on pit road. He drove through his pit stall during a lap 50 caution and then slid through his pit stall during a green-flag cycle of stops around lap 100. Jones was the final driver on the lead lap at the finish.
Other top-10 finishers included Johnny Sauter in sixth, James Buescher in eighth, Timothy Peters ninth, and Joe Nemechek in 10th.