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Matt Crafton takes NASCAR Trucks race in Iowa

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(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)


AP Sports Writer

NEWTON, Iowa (AP) Matt Crafton hadn't won a NASCAR trucks race in three years. The way Austin Dillon was running, it didn't look like that would change in Iowa.

One sloppy pit stop changed everything, allowing Crafton to take a late lead and snap a frustrating 79-race winless drought.

Crafton held off a charging Dillon to win the trucks race Saturday night, his second career victory and first since Charlotte in 2008.

"It's a huge momentum builder," Crafton said. "It was awesome. It was a long time since 2008."

Dillon led for most of the night and had the fastest truck in the field, but he fell back to eighth after the late pit stop and couldn't recover.

Dillon, who won at Iowa for his first career win in 2010 and led for 127 laps Saturday night, nearly pulled off a sweep for the Dillons at Iowa's .875-mile oval. Younger brother Ty took the ARCA race hours earlier.

Pole sitter David Mayhew was third, followed by Johnny Sauter and Joey Coulter.

All the Sprint Cup drivers who occasionally run Trucks events chose to stay in New Hampshire for this weekend's Nationwide and Sprint Cup races. That left this as one of the few races open for Trucks Series regulars.

Dillon looked poised to take advantage, but it was Crafton who capitalized on a poor trip to pit row by the No. 3 truck.

Ricky Carmichael drew a caution roughly 50 laps from the finish by hitting the wall, saving Dillon from having to pit under a green flag. Though Dillon's pit crew let him down, it didn't take long for him to start chasing down Crafton.

Those two were side-by-side with 12 laps left and it appeared Dillon would catch him eventually. But the No. 88 truck was able to hold off all of Dillon's furious attempts to pass.

"(Dillon) got there and I said `Oh boy, we're going to have to work for this one. And we did," Crafton said.

Dillon's best finish of this season moved him up to second in the points standings. He's 22 points behind Sauter, though Dillon didn't take much solace in that.

"I don't know what happened. I saw they stumbled in the front, lost a tire. Never got an explanation," Dillon said. `My guys do a great job on pit row, and (Saturday) night wasn't their night."

Mayhew earned his first career pole earlier Saturday in just his sixth career start, with Coulter starting next to him on the front row on a scorching hot night in Iowa.

Sauter took the lead after an early caution, followed closely by Dillon - who grabbed the lead 30 laps in and held it for 127 laps until his misadventure in the pits.

Justin Marks spun off the track midway through the race and drilled the outside wall of pit road head on - putting a sizable dent in the SAFER barrier in the process. Marks was awake and alert after being checked out at the medical center, but was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation.

That brought out the red flag as track officials scurried to fix the wall, and Dillon's lead was cut to under a second when things got going 15 minutes later.

Dillon just shrugged it off and quickly built up a big lead again.

He led 187 of 200 laps to win last year's race at Iowa, the first of his career, and for most of the night it appeared he'd be just as dominant again.

But after winning twice as a rookie in 2010, Dillon's still searching for his first victory this year.

"My (grandfather, team owner Richard Childress) barked on, in the beginning of the season, about a sophomore slump. I don't know if you call it a sophomore slump. Just can't finish," Dillon said.

Todd Bodine, the defending series champion, scored a late deal with Randy Moss Motorsports that got the No. 5 truck in the field. Bodine, who finished fourth last week in Kentucky, qualified 21st out of 32 trucks and finished 10th.

Updated July 16, 2011

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