Sept. 26, 2015
By Reid Spencer
LOUDON, N.H. – The milestone 500th race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series produced important “firsts” for two key figures on the winning team.
When Austin Dillon took the checkered flag in Saturday’s UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, he delivered the first victory in the series to both team owner Maurice Gallagher of GMS Racing and to crew chief Shane Huffmann.
Dillon pulled away after a restart on Lap 167 of 175, a resumption that followed the sixth caution of the race, for Tyler Reddick’s spin off Turn 2 on Lap 161. Dillon, who had stayed out on older tires while most other lead-lap trucks came to pit road under caution on Lap 142, crossed the finish line 1.054 seconds ahead of two-time defending series champion Matt Crafton.
“It’s very special,” said Dillon, whose grandfather, Richard Childress, fielded the winning truck for Mike Skinner in the inaugural Truck Series race at Phoenix in February 1995. “I owe a lot to the Truck Series for getting me to where I am today.
“I’ve had a lot of success qualifying, racing and winning in the Truck Series. It taught me a lot about how to race hard when you have to. It’s definitely a fun series to be in, and I’m thankful for it. Hopefully, we can have thousands of races in the Truck Series. I’ve enjoyed all of mine.”
Huffman, who once drove for Dale Earnhardt Jr., in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, was elated with the victory.
“This is a big day for Mr. Gallagher here,” Huffman said. “He’s put a lot of effort and financial support into this team—a lot of hard work and effort over the last couple years. It’s just great to be able to reward him with a win.”
Dillon, the 2011 series champion, won his first event of the season, his first at New Hampshire and the seventh of his career.
Johnny Sauter ran third, followed by Timothy Peters and John Hunter Nemechek, last week’s winner at Chicagoland Speedway. Daniel Hemric, Jones, Austin Theriault, Dalton Sargeant and Gray Gaulding completed the top 10.
With his runner-up finish, Crafton, now second in the standings, closed his deficit to leader and seventh-place finisher Erik Jones to seven points. Reddick came home 15th and trails Jones by 19 points.
“The 33 (Dillon) was definitely a little better,” Crafton said. “We missed it a little today. We fought tight, tight and just kept freeing it up, and I was just a little too free on the short run right there. I don’t know what I was doing wrong, but I was missing my restarts so bad.
“My teammate Johnny (Sauter) helped me on those last couple restarts and gave me a good shove and got me down in there. I just missed it, and we’ll get them next week.”
Jones was disappointed with his seventh-place finish.
“We just missed it by a long ways,” said the series leader. “We didn’t get the finish we wanted, and we’ll just have to go back and make our Tundras a little bit better.
“It’s just we can’t do that this late in the year – we can’t be that far off. We’ll just have to work on it and figure out what was wrong and how to be better here for the next six weeks.”
Kyle Busch, who fields the trucks Jones drives, started second on Saturday but developed a tire rub late in the race. An unscheduled pit stop to address the problem relegated Busch to an 11th-place finish.