Skinner takes his Toyota to victory at Gateway

Mike Skinner was the beneficiary of a wild conclusion in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Saturday, winning the Copart 200 in a green-white-checkered finish at Gateway International Raceway.

Matt Crafton was involved in incidents in back-to-back restarts with 10 laps remaining that knocked out the first-place and second-place trucks.

On the first restart, Crafton, running third, jumped inside of Todd Bodine, who restarted second. As they approached Turn 1, Bodine’s Toyota angled toward the inside and contact was made with Crafton’s Chevrolet. Bodine did a quarter-spin on the pit lane exit and went across the track, hit the outside wall and made contact with Colin Braun and Rick Crawford. The race was red flagged.

On the subsequent restart, Crafton lined up second behind Ron Hornaday Jr. When Hornaday turned into the first corner, Crafton was inside him and hit the left-rear of Hornaday’s Chevrolet. Hornaday backed into the outside wall and then was hit by Jason Young.

The race was again red flagged, with Crafton in front. But NASCAR black flagged Crafton for aggressive driving, giving the lead to Skinner. Johnny Sauter moved up to second and Brian Scott to third. Crafton was forced to restart at the back of the field, the 11th and final truck on the lead lap. When Crafton drove down pit lane to serve his penalty, a large number of the crowd applauded.

Skinner held off Sauter on the green-white-checkered finish and won by .285 seconds in the 162-lap race, two over the scheduled distance.

It was Skinner’s second straight victory, his third of the season and 28th of his career in the series.

“I’ve won a couple like this, and I’ve probably lost 20 like this," Skinner said. “I’m at least 18 upside down. I’ve said it I don’t know how many times: How are we going to ever police, how are we ever going to stop it being OK just to go out there in the first turn on a restart with five to go and wreck the leader to win races?

“I’ve been on NASCAR about it, I’ve been on officials about it. I chose not to do it this year twice to Ron Hornaday. I raced him clean, and I think today it came back and paid dividends for me. We had about a second-place truck."

Crafton climbed back to finish sixth, and Hornaday was 17th. Hornaday has a 197-point lead over Crafton in the points standings with seven races remaining. Skinner is third, 213 back.

Sauter was unhappy that NASCAR ordered Skinner in front of him under caution before the next-to-last restart. NASCAR said the electronic timing loop at the time of the caution had Skinner ahead.

“I don’t know how you get passed under the caution," Sauter said.

Sauter also defended Crafton’s aggressive driving.

“First of all, Matt Crafton won today," Sauter said. “I don’t think Matt dumped anybody. He had good restarts."

Aric Almirola finished fourth, and Tayler Malsam was fifth.

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