NEWTON — Twelve lead changes set an Iowa Speedway record in a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in Sunday’s Fan Appreciation 200 presented by New Holland. The drivers were also on pace for a record of fewest cautions, but that didn’t happen.
And that was good news for defending NCWTS champion James Buescher. Buescher used the late cautions to his advantage. The race was scheduled for 200 laps but the cautions extended it.
Buescher took control of the lead on the second green-white-checkered attempt at the end. Driving the No. 31 Exide Chevrolet, Buescher got the jump on pole-winner Ross Chastain on the restart and held Chastian off to take his first win at Iowa Speedway.
The victory got Buescher closer to points leader Matt Crafton. He is only 37 points back in second place with seven more races to go, trying for back-to-back series championships.
“We’re definitely on a roll,” Buescher said. “Four races ago, we were 64 points out of the lead and I think we’ve not quite cut that in half, but close enough. We’ve got plenty of racing left to go and I think we can keep it up.”
Chastain led a race-high 116 laps but couldn’t get the lead on Laps 211 and 212 for the win. Ty Dillon, who led 46 laps in the race, finished third Sunday followed by Johnny Sauter in fourth.
Darrell Wallace Jr., who ran fifth, was the highest finishing rookie. German Quiroga, Crafton, Jeb Burton, Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney round out the top 10 finishers.
“Back-to-back top-5 finishes for us and we were fast all race. We just didn’t have the take off speed we needed,” Wallace said of his run at Iowa.
Blaney was last year’s winner in this race at Iowa. Blaney took the lead from Chastain, who is a Brad Keselowski Racing teammate, on a late restart. Contact between Buescher and Timothy Peters brought out another caution flag, setting up the first green-white-checkered run to the finish.
That run didn’t last long. Brendan Gaughan got into the back of Joey Coulter’s car, bringing out yet another caution. There were only two cautions in the race through the first 164 laps. From Lap 169 to the final lap, 212, there were five cautions.
“It was the best race truck I’ve ever had, and that’s what makes it so much worse,” Chastain said. “I gave it away.”
Blaney was penalized for not maintaining pace-car speed during a caution. He came in to pit road and got tires just before the final two restarts. He wasn’t able to regain his position, finishing 10th. Blaney said he had trouble with an air bubble in the fuel line that made his car falter a bit and lose speed.
Dillon gained five points on Crafton. But ran into technical problems throughout Sunday’s race. One issue had to do with the battery and he said he couldn’t use his fans in the car, which led to the tires heating up more.
“Same old story, it seems like. We’ve had really fast trucks,” Dillon said. “We got a little off strategy. I don’t know if that hurt us or not.”
Buescher and Peters had a difference of opinion of whose line it was in Turn 1 when there was contact, causing Peters to spin out. During the cool down lap, Peters, who led 36 laps and finished 12th, bumped Buescher in front of the grandstands. The two drivers also describe the race and contact differently.
Chase Elliott, who had won last week’s series race in Canada, lasted just 35 laps Sunday. Elliott had trouble with his truck from the beginning. He was down to 24th when he had a tire blow out, ending up hitting the wall and was done for the day.
Next stop for the NCWTS is Friday 13 for the EnjoyIllinois.com 225 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.