Driver Points: 1st (+12)
Owner Points: 1st
Newton, IA (June 20, 2015) – Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Chi Chi’s/Menards Toyota Tundra, continued his consistent ways in 2015, finishing fourth in Friday night’s American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen at Iowa Speedway in Newton. The 2011 race winner started ninth, his fifth top-10 start at the 7/8-mile track, led the field for 33 laps, and brought home his fifth top-five finish in nine starts at the “Fastest Short Track on the Planet.” The solid run marked the ThorSport Racing driver’s 200th career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) top-10 finish in 347 starts since 2000.
Starting ninth, Crafton worked his way into the top-five by the race’s second caution at lap 26, and took over the race lead from teammate, Cameron Hayley at lap 95, leading the 32-truck field for 33 laps. Crew chief Carl “Junior” Joiner brought the No. 88 machine to pit road for scheduled stops, under caution, at laps 42, 122 and 152, respectively, for four tires, and fuel.
Crafton, who maintained the top spot through the second round of pit stops, lost the lead on a lap 127 restart to eventual race winner, Erik Jones. The Menards driver would maintain a second-place position until coming down pit road for the final stop of the night at lap 152 for four tires and fuel. With a myriad of strategies playing out on pit road, Crafton would take four tires, while others opted for two, forcing the two-time NCWTS champion to restart fifth with less than 50 laps remaining in the 200-lap event.
Battling a loose Toyota Tundra in the closing laps, Crafton would fall back to seventh before crossing the stripe in the fourth position, his seventh top-five finish in nine races this season.
“We just didn’t have enough momentum up top, and it was so aggravating when you got stuck on the bottom. I think if we could have cleared him (Tyler Reddick), we would have been fast, but I just couldn’t clear him. All in all not a terrible day.”
- Matt Crafton finished fourth in Friday night’s American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway
- In nine starts at the 7/8-mile track, Crafton has one win (2011), five top-five and nine top-10 finishes
- Crafton has led 378 laps this season, leading at least one lap in each of the first nine races. The feat is a personal best for the 15-year NCWTS veteran
- According to NASCAR’s Loop Data statistics, Crafton ranked second in Average Running Position (3.6), and had a Driver Rating of 121.8, following the 200-lap event
- Crafton remains the NCWTS point leader following the ninth race of the season by 12 points over second-place, Tyler Reddick
- In 2015, Crafton has three wins, seven top-five and eight top-10 finishes
- In 347 career NCWTS starts, Crafton has eight wins, 83 top-five and 200 top-10 finishes
- Erik Jones won the American Ethanol 200 followed by Brandon Jones (second), Tyler Reddick (third), Crafton (fourth), and Christopher Bell (fifth). ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter finished 17th, and Cameron Hayley was 19th
- Up next: The NCWTS will take two weeks off before heading to Kentucky Speedway in Sparta for the UNOH 225 on Thursday, July 9