Date: November 20, 2015
Event: NCWTS 200 (Race 23of 23)
Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Location: Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 9th / 25th (Out of fuel, completed 130 of 134 laps)
Winner: Matt Crafton of ThorSport Racing (Toyota)
Friday night was the season finale for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway. Christopher Bell started the race with the goal of winning his first NCWTS race on asphalt (since he had already won on dirt at Eldora Speedway in July). Although he was fast in practice that morning and qualified ninth, his No. 54 JBL Tundra was a few laps short on fuel which cost him a top-10 finish and left him in 25th place.
Bell started the race in ninth place, but fell back early since the Tundra was too loose. He was 12th by the time he was able to pit for adjustments on lap 49. Although the adjustment helped, it was not enough to tighten up the truck as much as Bell needed. When a caution came 13 laps later, he pitted again for a bigger adjustment and remained in 12th place.
Bell pitted for the final time under caution on lap 74 for another wedge adjustment and four tires, and quickly began to move up through the field with newer tires than his competitors. He was up to sixth by lap 80, but a caution a few laps later disrupted his pit strategy. Bell was forced to stay out while most other teams pitted. Staying out moved him up to the lead for five laps, but he was not able to maintain his position when the race resumed since his tires already had six laps on them.
Unfortunately, the race did not have another caution, and since Bell pitted earlier than the other drivers he was short on fuel. He did his best to conserve fuel, but it wasn’t enough to go the distance. While running ninth his Tundra slowed with four laps to go. He made it to the service road but had no way to get to pit road for fuel as the final laps unfolded. Bell was scored in 25th place, four laps down.
“We made some good progress on the JBL Tundra throughout the night,” Bell said. “At one point it looked like we were going to be really good when we got off the pit cycle with everybody, but then a caution came out and we had to stay out knowing everyone else came in for tires and I was just along for the ride at that point. Since we pitted earlier than everyone else we knew we would probably be short on fuel without another caution. I was trying to save fuel the final 14 laps, but by that point it was too late.
“I learned a lot about how the race track lines move around and how the air affects the trucks, so I’m already looking forward to next year. I’m excited to start fresh at Daytona in 2016 and run the full season with JBL on board.”
Matt Crafton won the race followed by John Hunter Nemechek, Tyler Reddick, Ben Kennedy and Timothy Peters rounded out the top five. KBM’s Erik Jones finished sixth, but more importantly claimed the NCWTS Driver’s and Owner’s Championship. It marked the first Driver’s Championship for KBM and the fourth Owner’s Championship.
Toyota also secured the Manufacturer’s Championship for the season. The No. 54 team finished the season 13th in the owner’s point standings.