"We had a terrible truck on the very first run -- we almost went a lap down," Crafton said. "That just says what a never-say-die attitude that this Menards ThorSport team has. We saved our set of (new) tires there to the end and it was go time.
"It was great for Johnny and them to be over in Victory Lane, but man, I thought we were going to have something for him. I was just a little bit too free on that last run to try to run him down. It was one heck of a show, hopefully."
Crafton was a big part of that -- both in his charge through the field at the end but also through creating the finishing scenario. While racing in heavy traffic on lap 207, Crafton's faster truck got into the back of John Wes Townley's truck in Turn 4, causing the young Georgian to get loose in front of Crafton.
Crafton tried to back off to let Townley gather up his out-of-control truck but Chase Elliott, the son of former Cup Series champion Bill Elliott, who was making his Truck Series debut, drilled into Crafton's back bumper and pushed him into Townley again, wrecking Townley and bringing out a caution with 42 laps remaining.
"I got into (Townley) in the middle of the corner and I tried to back off of him," Crafton said. "The 94 (Elliott) piled into the back of me and I was literally on my brakes, off the gas and I'm like, 'I'm along for the ride now, dude.'
"Like I said, I definitely did not mean to wreck (Townley). Hopefully he'll watch a replay and see the other side of it."
For Crafton, the other side was he was able top get his last set of new tires, but the amount of laps it took to clean up the aftermath of Townley's crash deprived Crafton of the laps he needed to catch Sauter at the very end -- as Crafton's truck, after a series of adjustments by Joiner and his crew, was its best when it counted, in the last 25 laps.
It left Crafton looking ahead to two races over the next two weekends, at Rockingham, N.C., and Kansas Speedway.
"Yeah, it was a very good day for ThorSport Racing," Crafton said. "It just shows what this team -- the ThorSport Racing organization -- what we're going to have in 2013. We're going to be a championship contending team -- both of us, Johnny and I.
"This Menards truck was terrible in the first run, but it just shows how good these guys are working on this truck and it was there at the end."
Crafton is now poised to take sole possession of the Truck Series' consecutive starts mark, when he takes the green flag next Sunday at Rockingham Speedway in the second annual North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at The Rock presented by Cheerwine.