Matt Crafton and the No. 88 Menards/Ideal Door team earned a sixth-place finish and closed the gap in the points lead under the lights at Lucas Oil Raceway. After early wrecks and a brief rain delay, Crafton battled hard with his competitors, bringing home his seventh top-10 finish of 2011 and inching himself within 38 points of the championship lead.
Taking the green flag from the eighth position, the yellow flag was in the air before the completion of the first lap for a multi-truck wreck. Restarting on lap six, Crafton immediately improved his position by two spots, then battled into the fourth position on lap 34. Just seven laps later, the yellow flag would wave for rain over the short track, with Crafton still in the fourth spot.
Fortunately, the brief shower passed without the need for a red flag, and the jet dryers had the track ready to race by on lap 58. Concerned that more rain was coming, Crafton opted not to pit under the long caution, restarting in fourth. With a strong restart, Crafton elbowed his way up to second on lap 59, maintaining his position until the caution flew on lap 81 for a two car wreck.
Running lap times faster than the leader, the No. 88 team opted for no changes when Crafton brought his truck down pit road for service. After providing him with four tires and fuel, Crafton took the green flag on lap 85 from 13th behind several competitors who chose not to pit. Only seven laps later, the yellow flag waved for the fourth and final time with Crafton in 10th.
The track went green on lap 94, and Crafton quickly advanced to eighth by lap 95. Over the course of the next 40 laps, Crafton battled side by side and three wide, making the pass for third on lap 134. Crafton maintained the third spot until lap 181, running lap times faster than the leaders. On lap 182, fuel mileage calculations indicated that Crafton would have to pit, and he brought the Menards/Ideal Door machine in for two tires and a top off on fuel. Crafton returned to the track even better than before, but with several of the leaders gambling on fuel, Crafton could only advance to sixth before the checkered flag waved on lap 200.
"God that was fun," said Crafton after the race. "We should have had a better finish tonight, because we were clearly one of the best trucks in the field, but it still was a really good race for our team, both on track and in the points. The guys worked all day to improve our Menards/Ideal Door truck through practice and qualifying, and they really got it right when it came down to crunch time. It was a lot of fun to run like we did."