Gander Outdoor Truck Series

NCWTS: Erik Jones Wins, Power Outages Take Center Stage

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AVONDALE, Ariz. — What can you expect when the full moon is out and it’s a Friday night NASCAR race? The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series entered Phoenix International Raceway for a pivotal race in the championship battle, which has now narrowed down to one race  – Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Long before the green flag was dropped for the Lucas Oil 150, the drama of the night was already taking shape. As the drivers and teams stood by their trucks – as usual prerace protocol – the lights throughout the entire track went out and the track fell into darkness.

The start of the race was put on delay for well over an hour and in the meantime, Fox Sports 1 went to work in supplying the fans at home, something to simply keep them entertained and watching. It included highlight videos, funny moments with Ryan Blaney, John Hunter Nemechek and Tyler Reddick, and many interviews with the drivers including one with GMS Racing driver Spencer Gallagher which possibly took the spotlight (wink).

“As I was walking out here, I could’ve sworn I saw a rattle snake trying to crawl in the breaker box, and in Las Vegas that’s actually not an uncommon thing. You would be amazed where desert animals try to crawl up and try to find some warmth and end up frying themselves,” Gallagher said.

When the drivers took their caps off and traded them for full-face racing helmets, the race finally got under way – but not for very long. One of most common occurrences of Phoenix is the danger of stack ups on the starts and restarts. The outside lane slowed which caused a multi-truck crash with German Quiroga among others, bringing out the first caution of the unpredictable night.

In the runs that followed, drivers like Ben Rhodes, Timothy Peters, Jeb Burton, Gallagher and Joey Coulter had accidents on track while Erik Jones continued to lead the field from pole position.

Points leader entering Phoenix, Matt Crafton, proved he was the “best of the rest” as he maintained second spot while John Hunter Nemechek and Ryan Blaney clicked off quick times, and more spots toward the front. At halfway, Ben Kennedy and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie Austin Dillon were running top-five

The final restart on lap 118 set up what would soon be a seven-lap stint. With 24 laps to go, while under a green flag run, the lights once again shut off and NASCAR was forced to put the field under a red flag condition for the second time of the night – the first due to Coulter’s hard lap 39 crash.

After a matter of minutes, NASCAR choose to call the race official.

Leading 114 of the 126 laps ran, 18-year-old Jones picked up his third win of the 2014 season, fourth of his career and second straight at Phoenix.

“Just an awesome Dollar General Tundra, that’s all we can say,” said Jones. “Just proud of being a part of KBM, its been an awesome year for them, we broke the record here tonight, 13 wins in a season, that’s amazing for these guys. Just excited for next year, full season with them, going to be chasing down the championship. It’s going to be a great year for sure.”

Rounding out the top-10 was Crafton, Cole Custer, Blaney, Rhodes fifth with Darrell Wallace, Jr., John Hunter Nemechek, Austin Dillon, Sauter, and Reddick.

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About Zach Catanzareti

Zach Catanzareti serves as a Contributing Writer in the NASCAR department for Rubbings Racing and can be followed on Twitter (@zachracing) for the latest NASCAR updates. A native of Easton, Pennsylvania, he also follows IndyCar and Formula 1.

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