Matt Crafton – There’s No Place Like “Home”

Although the central California town of Tulare, home of Matt Crafton, is more than 500 miles from Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway (PIR), site of Friday night’s Lucas Oil 150, the defending series champion and current NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) point leader calls the one-mile oval a “hometown” race. Crafton, who got his start in the Southwest Tour, a highly competitive regional series that proved to be a breeding ground for several NASCAR stars including four-time NCWTS champion Ron Hornaday, Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch, has made numerous laps around the Avondale, Ariz. track. The Menards driver spent four seasons in the Featherlite Southwest Series, racing at PIR, known as the circuits “Daytona,” and won the championship title in 2000, opening the door to his career in NASCAR, racing for Duke and Rhonda Thorson.

To date, the ThorSport Racing driver has made 13 starts at PIR in the NCWTS producing four top-five and nine top-10 finishes and according to NASCAR’s Loop Data Statistics ranks first in Laps in the Top 15 category with 1241. In fact, of the 35 drivers entered in Friday night’s 150-lap event, Crafton has the most starts (13), most top-five (4) and top-10 finishes (9), most laps completed (1956) and most lead lap finishes (12). Crafton hopes that experience equals results with only two races remaining before the conclusion of the 2014 season. With a 23-point lead on the competition, a win at PIR, a track where it all started, could be history in the making for the reigning series champion.

Sounding off – Matt Crafton:
“It’s definitely a tricky oval – especially since they changed it, put the new asphalt on it. There’s an entirely new element to the place, tires don’t fall off nearly like they used to. Turns 1 and 2 are the same, but the dogleg is very different and I’m not such a big fan of it compared to the old configuration. Phoenix is like a home track to me. I’ve got a ton of laps around there since the late 90’s – when I raced a late model around there. We finished fifth there last year trying to protect the points lead and wrap up the championship, so hopefully we can get a win there this year in front of all our friends and family that come out for this race.”

Crafton’s PIR Stats:
• 13 NCWTS starts since 2001 including four top-five and nine top-10 finishes
• 0 laps led
• 1956 of 1965 laps completed (99.5%)
• Best start: 2nd, twice (2007, and 2010)
• Best finish: 3rd (2004)
• Average start: 8.9
• Average finish: 9.2
• According to NASCAR’s Loop Data Statistics, Crafton ranks:
  º First in Laps in Top 15 (1241)
  º Fifth in Fastest Laps Run (30)
  º Seventh in Average Running Position (8.356)
  º Eighth in Driver Rating (100.6)

Matt Crafton’S Phoenix International Raceway NCWTS Performance Profile:

Date Start Finish Laps Status Led
2001 10 15 159/159 Running 0
2002 9 9 152/152 Running 0
2003 18 14 150/150 Running 0
2004 11 3 150/150 Running 0
2005 12 8 150/150 Running 0
2006 5 5 150/150 Running 0
2007 2 14 150/150 Running 0
2008 13 8 150/150 Running 0
2009 14 8 151/151 Running 0
2010 2 4 150/150 Running 0
2011 6 7 150/150 Running 0
2012 5 20 144/153 Running 0
2013 9 5 150/150 Running 0

Matt Crafton 2014:
• After a third-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Crafton remains first in the NCWTS driver point standings by 23 markers over second-place Ryan Blaney
• Has been victorious twice – Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (3/29/14) and Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (6/6/14)
• The first season in 14 years in the NCWTS that the ThorSport Racing driver has won multiple races in one season
• In 20 starts in 2014, has posted two wins, 12 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes
• Has led 298 laps, a personal best in one season
• Recorded a season-best second-place start three times; Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (5/16/14), Dover (Del.) International Speedway (5/30/14) and Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (6/6/14)
• Has completed 2749 of 3030 laps attempted (97.3%)
• Has an Average Start of 8.0
• Has an Average Finish of 7.1
• 14th full-time season in the NCWTS
• According to NASCAR’s Loop Data Statistics, Crafton ranks:
  º First in Average Running Position (6.659)
  º First in Laps in Top 15 (2833)
  º Second in Driver Rating (105.6)
  º Third in Fastest Laps Run (252)
  º Third in Laps Led (298)

Matt Crafton’s Career Truck Series Stats:
• 336 starts since 2000
• Five wins
• 75 top-five finishes
• 190 top-10 finishes
• Seven poles
• 52,443 laps completed
• 918 laps led
• Average start:13.4
• Average finish: 11.8

ABOUT MENARDS:
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.

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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.

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