Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota Tundra, entered Saturday’s Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway looking to write his own history at the historical half-mile oval. Although the ThorSport Racing driver wasn’t able to sweep both NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) races of 2014 at NASCAR’s shortest track, Crafton was able to bring home his 11th top-five finish of the season, finishing third in the 32nd annual event at the “paper clip.” The solid run allowed the defending series champion to gain two points on second-place, Ryan Blaney in the 2014 NCWTS driver point standings. With only three races remaining on the 22-race schedule, Crafton has an 18 point lead on the competition.
Starting third, the Menards driver didn’t let a “free on entry” Toyota Tundra stop his charge to the front of the field. By lap 47 the No. 88 machine was scored as the race leader and Crafton held off his fellow competitors for 23 laps before surrendering the lead to ThorSport Racing teammate, Johnny Sauter on lap 65. Crafton maintained a position inside the top-five over the next 37 circuits before bringing his Toyota Tundra to pit road under caution at lap 102 for four tires and fuel. When racing resumed on lap 106, Crafton was scored in the 11th position, due to pit strategy by the race leaders.
Unfortunately, as the spring race winner began making his way through the field, congestion in Turn 2 caused the field to check-up and the No. 29 machine got into the back of the Menards Tundra causing damage to the rear bumper, forcing Crafton to lose valuable track position. The ThorSport Racing driver spent the majority of the second-half of the race making his way back through the field while avoiding four pile-ups, which included a 10 minute red-flag condition.
On the final restart, with five laps remaining, Crafton was scored fifth and took advantage of contact between the leaders to gain two positions in the closing laps. The No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra would cross the stripe third behind race winner Darrell Wallace, Jr. The third-place result was Crafton’s sixth top-five finish in 26 starts at Martinsville.
- Matt Crafton made his 25th start at Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 200
- Crafton started third and finished third, his sixth top-five and 14th top-10 finish at the half-mile “paper clip”
- The No. 88 Menards driver led the 200-lap race twice for 24 laps bringing his 2014 total laps led to 292, a personal best in one season
- According to NASCAR’s Loop Data Statistics, Crafton was ranked third in Average Running Position (5.340), and third in Driver Rating (118.2) following the Kroger 200
- In 19 starts in 2014, Crafton has posted two wins, 11 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes
- The defending series champion continues to lead the NCWTS driver point standings, 18 markers ahead of second-place Ryan Blaney
- Darrell Wallace, Jr. won the Kroger 200 at Martinsville followed by Timothy Peters (2nd), Crafton (3rd), Erik Jones (4th), and Ryan Blaney (5th)
- The NCWTS heads to Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth for the WinStar World Casino 350k on Friday, October 31
Quote – Matt Crafton:
“It was a very eventful day to say the least. It was good racing. The 98 got into us on that long run. I just tried to save my stuff. I tried to be smart, because I knew we had chorded a right front tire at that point. We came in and put tires on, and then the 34 shot everybody three wide, four wide, and I got clobbered from behind. I was standing on the brakes. I don’t know who hit me from behind, but they were driving off their hood pins and just clobbered me. I was standing on the brakes with two feet trying not to get piled into. I got piled into a little bit. All in all, not a terrible day.”
Practice: 7th, 19.995 seconds/94.70mph
Final Practice: 2nd, 19.75 seconds/95.86mph
Qualifying: 3rd, 19.69 seconds/96.13mph
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.
ABOUT IDEAL DOOR:
Since 1963, Ideal Door has been an industry leader in sectional garage doors and the preferred choice of home owners, architects and builders for their current and future door needs. For more information, visit www.idealdoors.com
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 Estes Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton in the Truck Series.