Matt Crafton – Daytona 500 Media Day Driver Quotes

IMG_8682Toyota Daytona Driver Quotes
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
Daytona Media Day – February 22, 2017

Toyota driver Matt Crafton was made available to the media at NASCAR Daytona Media Day:

Matt Crafton, No. 88 Goof Off/Menards Toyota Tundra, ThorSport Racing
How important is this race to you and how much do you want to win this race?
“Oh, this is definitely a very, very important race to win. It’s a crap shoot, this place, just because you never know what you’re going to get. You’ve got to be there at the end, like each and every week, but Daytona, is just the big one. It would be really, really cool to be in victory lane here. We haven’t put a lot of emphasis on our speedway program just because we’ve always taken all of our downforce trucks to the wind tunnel and worked on that because there’s so many mile and a half racetracks that we race, and we haven’t done anything with our speedway program, so this winter we went to work hard and we did a lot of work on trying to make our speedway program better so we can go lead laps and put this Menard’s Toyota Tundra in victory lane.”

You guys have more experience with a segmented style race than any other series. How do you compare that style of race?
“I’m ecstatic they got rid of the caution clock. That was a terrible, terrible idea. I had to go with it last year, but it was what it was. But I’m ecstatic about the new caution clock or the segments we’ll call it. It’s going to make the Cup racing, I think, a lot better because I loved watching a Cup race, but there was that 300 or 400 miles of that race you could go take a nap, and you always heard that from any fan that was out there, anybody you ever talked to, the Cup races are too long, they need to do something. I’ve said it for years that they needed to make segments. They needed something throw big, big money at split the purse up into thirds, and some of that was some of my idea, but the points deal now that that’s going to help get yourself into the Chase and help yourself in the Chase, you’re going to see at that first segment, if somebody is running second, third, they’re going to be doing a little bit more rooting and gouging to be able to get those bonus points.”

Are we going to see you at the dirt track throughout this year?
“Yeah, absolutely. I’ve drove other people’s cars the last few years, and I’ve been hit or miss. You never know what you’re getting into. This winter I found a car, and I knew it was a good car, it had won a race last year, and I have some friends that race dirt cars, Nick Hoffman. He told me, get that thing and we’ll tune it up and go have some fun. It’s been one of the things that’s been so great about it was getting to build it in the shop with my dad. Literally behind my dad’s house we have a 50 by 40 shop, and we put it in there and we worked the last two months, tore it all the way apart and put it all back together, and we had a blast. Yeah, finished second last night in it. We had great nights out at Volusia and had really bad nights, and finished on a really high note, so now I’m ready to go dirt racing some more.”

This new points season for y’all, new playoffs, do you feel like that rewards a driver like you who’s so consistent?
“The old system I think rewarded me better just because I always seem to be able to put a whole season together and just giving and taking, just being a little bit smarter, and I wasn’t real big on the Chase last year, but I was ecstatic about the Chase once we got there because I wouldn’t have even been close to having a shot at winning a championship when we got to Homestead just because we lost our shop, and I had five DNF’s. We would have probably been eighth in points at that point, but the Chase kept us alive, and we got back in our shop that last third or last quarter of the season. We got back in the shop, we went back to the old ThorSport way and running up front and contending for wins each and every week.”

A guy told me a couple years ago who’s been racing dirt modifieds longer than you, a guy named Justin Allgaier, said the technology changes maybe not as fast as truck or Cup Series, but he said he would feel disadvantaged being away from the dirt track for a month or two and then coming back. What have you noticed since you built that car? How fast have things changed, and do you feel disadvantaged not being at a dirt track every week?
“Absolutely I do. Just going out there and racing those guys, I got my butt handed to me a lot of nights. I was ecstatic to make I missed two shows, but besides that, I made all the shows, and that’s just there was 64 cars, and they were starting 24, 26 cars, and you’d better have your stuff together because those guys raced some of them race 30, 40 times a year and they are good at what they do. To be able to go one with them, and I was running in the top 10 one night and got wrecked on the last lap and we kept making the car better and better, finished second last night, I was ecstatic at that. I had a shot at winning the Gator, so we just we had a lot of fun, had a lot of fun hanging out with my dad and doing that, and they do, they change a lot. These guys I was pitted next to Nick Hoffman, the guy that won pretty much all the races, and I’ve got one of his cars, and he gives you a little bit more of this, a little more of that, and I don’t blame him. He’s trying to go out there and win every race, and he builds the cars, but he doesn’t want to give you everything because you might go out there and compete with him. And he works really hard to make as stuff as fast as it is, and each and every night he would keep giving us a little bit more, and then yesterday he took me in the infield and took our car in the infield, and he set it up and did a lot of the setup on that thing, and we made a huge, huge headway with it last night and ran second, like I said. I was very happy with it, and he told me when I get back, bring it to his shop and we’ll do some more stuff to it and keep tuning it and making it faster.”

In the NASCAR world everybody talks about how the weather changes the track, where to the naked eye it looks pretty much the same to the fan. The look of a dirt track can change so drastically even to the naked eye of a fan. Obviously, I can see how you’d be describing differently what you’re feeling, but how many changes to the car are needed from a wet track to a dry track? Is that an hour and a half of labor, two hours of labor once you’re at the track?
“No. Dirt racing, you pull off the track a lot of times and they’re calling up if you’re in a B Main there was times the other night if you were in the third B Main, you’d be rolling off the track and they’re calling the A Main. You’d get there, pulling there, to change tires, put fuel in it, put wheel spacers on it and make some rounds in it like a NASCAR pit stop. But when they get rolling, they get rolling out there, as in the show. They do a great job. It’s just interesting to watch how many fans were out there watching that, and I can understand it just because when they started the night at 6:30, there wasn’t ever a break of three minutes that there wasn’t race cars on the racetrack to watch, different classes, to qualifying, to heat races, to B Mains, to main events, and they kept the show exciting. I love going and watching it and racing it, as well.”

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