MADISON — Mother nature couldn't hold back the drivers, crew members or the fans at Gateway Motorsports Park on Saturday as two rain delays put race festivities on a slight hold.
After scoring the second fastest time in practice, 17-year-old Cole Custer of Ladera Ranch, Cal. claimed his first win of 2015 in his third start for JR Motorsports, taking the checkered flag after leading the most important lap of the race, lap number 160.
Tyler Reddick, driver of the BBR Music Group Ford, took the lead after both Erik Jones and Matt Crafton shared domination of the race, but wrecked with less than 10 laps to go.
Custer passed Reddick on the final restart and held off the pack to take the win. Custer was joined by his crew chief Joe Shear Jr. and his Haas Automation Chevrolet team in victory lane as the confetti flew.
"I got a pretty good jump and he (Reddick) just missed a shift there or something, so I was able to get the lead," Custer said. "It kinda played into our hands. We had a shot to win all night. I knew if things played out right we'd definitely have a shot to win."
Qualifying was cancelled after the track was soaked following a five minute rain shower earlier in the afternoon. Drivers were lined up for the race according to the point rankings, but were delayed one more time due to a quick moving downpour that lasted only minutes.
"Weather was a challenge, but the fans were there to see a good show," Gateway Motorsports Park owner and CEO Curtis Francois said. "It was certainly worth the wait. Families dominated the day and we hosted between 18,000 and 20,000 NASCAR fans."
With two rain delays, the drivers and crews had a challenge of dealing with not only the hours passing by, but also a "green" race track that had all the rubber washed from it's surface.
"With the green track, our truck went back to where it was earlier in the day during practice," Custer said. "With no rubber on the track we got a bit loose. Clean air definitely helped on that restart. We were able to hang on long enough. We had what it took to be there at the end of the race."
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers have come to love the unique surface offered at Gateway Motorsports Park and enjoy the feeling of a short-track.
"I love this place," said Timothy Peters, driver of the No. 17 Red Horse Racing Toyota. "I had my second start ever on this track. It's special here for me because it has a lot of speed to it, but it races pretty much like a short-track."
Custer enjoyed the configuration of the track and said it's a real attraction for NASCAR drivers and crews.
"We always like coming to a play like Gateway," Custer said. "We're the main show and the biggest thing in town. It's (Gateway) is a cool race track. It's different at both ends and drivers like that. This track is challenging and a cool place to race. As drivers, we're real happy that the Camping World Truck Series is back here at Gateway."
Happy with the success of the second coming of the Drivin for Linemen 200, Francois is continuously evolving Gateway with the hopes to keep the experience growing for fans.
"It's great to see the grass-roots motorsports fans come back to Gateway," Francois said. "We certainly take pride in our facility and it's fantastic to see the families and fans come out. They see we're trying hard and we appreciate it. We're looking at every possible avenue of racing coming to this track. We're concentrating on doing every event well and looking at every opportunity out there to build this track bigger and better."