Sounding Off – Matt Crafton:
Atlanta has historically been one of your favorite race tracks. What is it about the track that you enjoy racing on?
“Atlanta is by far, hands down, my favorite race track that we go to, so I hate that this is the last race we’ll see on this pavement. I love Atlanta. You get so much tire fall-off from the beginning of a run, to the end. It’s incredible. You can run around there for the first two laps wide open, and then after that, when you get 15-20 laps into it, your hanging on for dear life, and screaming you need tires. Then, you still have to go another 20 laps after that. Atlanta definitely separates the field, for sure. It’s a lot about tire management. Last year we had such a fast Menards Toyota Tundra – led the most laps and just got caught-up in someone else’s mess. I’m confident we can pick up where we left off in 2016.”
Now that we’ve completed the first race of the 2017 NCWTS season with the new race format, how do you feel it will impact the race in Atlanta this weekend?
“Honestly, I liked the stages, it made it exciting for the fans. I can’t say that it really affected the outcome of the race in the truck series though – our races are shorter anyway, and we’re racing hard from green flag to checkered flag. Daytona proved that it was important to finish strong in each stage though, and get those bonus points. We dropped back to stay out of trouble, and focused on the race win. We looked like we were in a good position to capitalize on that strategy until it didn’t anymore, but that’s plate racing. Now we just need to win a race and we’re back in the mix.”
News & Notes:
- Chassis Chatter… The No. 88 ThorSport Racing team will unload chassis No. 56 for Saturday’s Active Pest Control 200 at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway (AMS). This chassis made its debut at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet in 2016, and Crafton piloted it to a 10th-place finish in the season finale at Homestead (Fl.) Miami Speedway (2016) after leading 10 laps.
- All About Atlanta… 2015 AMS winner, Matt Crafton, has the most starts (15), has completed the most laps (1863), is tied with Kyle Busch for the most top-10 finishes (8), and has the most lead lap finishes (11) of any other active series driver at the 1.54-mile track.
- Intermediate Track Success… No current NCWTS driver is better at Intermediate tracks than Crafton. Dating back to 2014, Crafton has finished in the top-10 in 23 of the last 26 races at ovals measuring 1.5 or 1.54 miles. Included in that stretch are seven wins, and six runner-up finishes.
- Take Me Back – Atlanta, 2016: The Menards driver led the field three times for a race-high 76 laps in the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) event at AMS, but finished 30th due to a late-race accident on lap 113 of 130.
- Changes for 2017… Atlanta will feature three stages (Stage 1 – 40 laps, Stage 2 – 40 laps, Final Stage – 50 laps), with approximately a five-minute break in between.
- Rearview Mirror – Daytona…Making his 17th career start at Daytona (Fl.) International Speedway, Crafton started seventh, led the field once for one lap and finished 14th, due to a last lap crash in the 100-lap event.
Crafton’s Atlanta Motor Speedway Stats:
- Starts: 15, since 2004
- Wins: 1 (2015)
- Poles: 1 (2016)
- Top-Five Finishes: 4
- Top-10 Finishes: 10
- Laps Completed: 1863 of 1963 (94.9%)
- Laps Led: 171
- Average start: 14.1
- Average finish: 12.7
Crafton’s Career Truck Series Stats:
- 385 starts since 2000
- 13 wins
- 97 top-five finishes
- 226 top-10 finishes
- 12 poles
- 59,399 laps completed
- 2145 laps led
- Average start: 12.7
- Average finish: 11.5
Crew Chief: Carl “Junior” Joiner
Engine: Triad Racing Technologies
2016 NCWTS Driver Point Standings: 13th
2016 NCWTS Owner Point Standings: 16th
Date: Saturday, March 4
Time: 4:30pm ET
Distance: 130 laps/200.2 miles