Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Goof-Off/Menards Toyota Tundra, took another step towards making history and becoming the first back-to-back champion in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) following a fifth-place finish in Friday night’s WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) in Fort Worth. The ThorSport Racing driver scored his ninth top-five finish at the 1.5-mile track, extending his point lead by five to 23 over second-place Ryan Blaney with only two races remaining on the 2014 NCWTS schedule.
Starting from the third position, Crafton immediately asserted himself as a contender from the outset. Despite a “free” balance through the race’s first green-flag run, Crafton solidified his position in the top-five. Under the first caution flag on lap 23, crew chief Carl “Junior” Joiner brought the Menards Tundra to pit road for four tires and fuel, returning the No. 88 machine to the track with the race lead. The race’s middle segment featured a long green flag stint in which Crafton continued to run inside the top-three while battling a tight condition on corner entry.
Immediately following a green flag pit stop for four tires and fuel on lap 74, the races second yellow flag was displayed on lap 77 for debris on the backstretch. “Junior” made the call to bring the No. 88 Tundra back to pit road for a set of sticker tires, lining Crafton up third for the lap 81 restart. The ThorSport Racing driver would maintain a second-place position over the next 33 laps, battling side-by-side with Kyle Busch for the race lead.
A caution at lap 139 for an accident on the frontstretch gave Crafton an opportunity to make his final pit stop of the night, taking on four tires with an air pressure adjustment. After numerous teams opted for alternate strategies, Crafton restarted 10th on lap 142. The Menards driver would pick his way through traffic in the closing laps which included a Green-White-Checker finish, crossing the stripe in the fifth position behind race winner Kyle Busch. The fifth-place result was Crafton’s 12th top-five finish of the 2014 NCWTS season.
• Matt Crafton’s fifth-place finish at TMS was his ninth top-five and 17th top-10 finish in 28 starts at the 1.5-mile track
• Crafton led two times for a total of six laps in the WinStar World Casino & Resort 350
• In 20 starts this season, Crafton has amassed two wins, 12 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes
• The ThorSport Racing driver holds a 23 point lead over second-place Ryan Blaney in the 2014 NCWTS driver point standings with two races remaining in the season
• Kyle Busch won the WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 at TMS followed by Jeb Burton (second), Timothy Peters (third), Tyler Reddick (fourth) and Crafton (fifth)
• Busch’s victory clinched the 2014 NCWTS Manufacturers’ Championship for Toyota – their seventh championship in 11 seasons
• Toyota has won 16 of the series’ first 20 races of 2014
• Up next: Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway will host the Lucas Oil 150 on Friday, November 7, the 21st event of the 2014 NCWTS schedule
Quote – Matt Crafton:
“Definitely not a bad night. I thought we had a top-three truck, for sure. Both Kyle Busch Motorsports trucks were fast. I thought I had something for them on the long runs, without a doubt. We had short runs at the end and didn’t play into our hands. I’m not worried about points. We’re going for a win at Phoenix, it’s kind of a home track for me. We’ve been there a ton, and have a new truck so we’re really looking forward to it.”
1st Practice: 10th, 30.265 seconds (178.424 mph)
2nd Practice: 5th, 30.130 seconds (179.223 mph)
Qualifying: 3rd, 29.730 seconds (181.635 mph)
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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.