Matt Crafton has been the ideal image for consistency this season, and after Saturday night’s Rhino Linings 350 at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway (LVMS), the JELD-WEN/Menards driver proved why he is in the hunt for a second consecutive NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) title.
Entering the 17th race on the 2014 NCWTS schedule, Crafton had an average finish of 2.6 on 1.5-mile tracks. The ThorSport Racing driver continued that consistency, finishing third, earning his sixth top-five finish in 14 starts at LVMS. The solid run marked Crafton’s 10th top-five finish of the season and allowed the Menards driver to extend his point lead on second-place to 19.
Starting fifth, Crafton maintained a position inside the top-five throughout the 146-lap event fighting a Toyota Tundra that was “plowing tight” in the opening laps. Crew chief Carl “Junior” Joiner brought the No. 88 machine to pit road under caution for scheduled stops at laps 32 and 57, respectively, for four tires and fuel. With 50 laps remaining Crafton was scored as the fastest truck on the track. The Menards driver began knocking off positions one-by-one, eventually leading four laps before bringing his Tundra to pit road for the final scheduled stop, under green, at lap 108 for four tires and fuel. Unfortunately, a slow pit stop would cause Crafton to lose two seconds to the race leader and the No. 88 would be scored third when he returned to the race track with 38 laps remaining. Crafton would maintain his position in the closing laps to finish third behind race winner, Erik Jones.
• Matt Crafton finished third in the Rhino Linings 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, his sixth top-five finish in 14 starts at the 1.5-mile oval
• According to NASCAR’s Loop Data, Crafton had an Average Running Position of 3.80
• The ThorSport Racing driver led the field once for four laps during the 146-lap event
• The Menards driver has led nine times in 2014 for a total of 268 laps, a personal best in his 14 NCWTS seasons
• Crafton remains first in the NCWTS driver point standings, 19 markers ahead of ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter
• This is the seventh week during the 2014 season that Crafton has led the NCWTS driver point standings
• In 2014, Crafton has two wins, 10 top-five and 13 top-10 finishes
• Erik Jones won the 18th annual Rhino Linings 350 at LVMS, his third career NCWTS victory. Darrell Wallace, Jr. (second), Crafton (third), Timothy Peters (fourth), and Brian Ickler (fifth) rounded out the top-five finishers, all of which were driving Toyota’s
• The NCWTS will take two weeks off before heading to Talladega Superspeedway for the Fred’s 250 powered by Coca-Cola on Saturday, October 18
Quote – Matt Crafton:
“I’m not worried about the 19 point lead, we just need to show up each week and keep doing what we do. We come here each weekend to win races, and the points will follow. As far as tonight, the KBM trucks had a lot of speed. In the second-half of a run I felt like we could keep up with them, but for whatever reasons it was lights out at the beginning of a run – we didn’t have the short run speeds we needed. It kept getting cooler and cooler, so you could run wide open more. During the second half of the race we had to lift more, and it really played into our hand and that’s where we made some ground. I’ve finished second and third here too many times, it’s good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just aggravating. All and all a good night for this Menards team.”
Practice: 6th; 31.126 seconds/173.488mph
Final Practice: 6th; 31.167 seconds/173.260mph
Qualifying: 5th; 30.935 seconds/174.560mph
With 287 stores in 14 Midwestern states, Menards has the tools, materials and supplies for all your home improvement needs whether just needing a light bulb or can of paint to building a deck or new home. Menards is known throughout the home improvement industry as the low price leader; it’s no wonder their famous slogan – “SAVE BIG MONEY” – is so widely known and easy to remember. Menards does things right – the company’s strength and success can be seen in the well-stocked and maintained stores, the lowest prices in town and the way guests are always treated like family in a hometown hardware store atmosphere.
Jeld-Wen, with its headquarters in Klamath Falls, Ore., is a corporation founded in 1960 that currently has manufacturing and distribution locations across the United States and in more than 20 countries, with more than 20,000 employees worldwide. The business manufactures building products including windows, interior and exterior doors and garage doors. For more information go to www.jeld-wen.com or call (800) 535-3936.
ABOUT THORSPORT RACING:
ThorSport Racing, based in a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is the longest-tenured NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. ThorSport, which has run in the Truck Series since 1996, in 2014 will run the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by 2013 drivers’ champion Matt Crafton, the No. 98 Nextant Aerospace/Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff/Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records Toyota Tundra driven by Johnny Sauter and the No. 13 Carolina Nut Co. Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton in the Truck Series and the No. 13 Toyota Camry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.