Six consecutive years of top-10 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series finishes at Dover International Speedway make Matt Crafton plenty optimistic for Friday’s 15th annual Lucas Oil 200 in his No. 88 Rip It Energy Fuel / Menards Toyota Tundra.
When you add-in Crafton’s last three finishes this season — a win at Martinsville and consecutive runner-up finishes to Kyle Busch at Kansas and Charlotte — it’s apparent the defending NCWTS drivers’ champion and his ThorSport Racing team are onto something.
“We’ve figured out what it takes to put our Menards Tundra up front in these Camping World Truck Series races,” Crafton said. “And Junior (Joiner, crew chief) and the guys have certainly figured out how to finish these races, with Toyotas that are capable of running up front.”
Crafton, who’ll make his series record-extending 321st consecutive Truck Series start on Friday, has finished in the top-10 in 56% of those starts, 178 of them. He’s been running at the finish of 47 consecutive Truck Series races — with 27 consecutive lead-lap results.
Of course there’s some satisfaction that comes with that — along with his 2013 NCWTS drivers’ championship. But there’s those two runner-up finishes to Busch this season…
At this point in the season, Crafton’s 11-point lead in the championship, over Timothy Peters, is no consolation.
And in Thursday’s 13 minutes of practice, which was all the track time teams got before the rain-delayed and rescheduled session was ultimately washed-out, saw Crafton — on his lone, three-lap run — second to, you guessed it, Busch.
Of course, Dover’s “Monster Mile” leads to that optimism. Crafton’s average finish in his last six races here is 5.2 and he was second a year ago, to, uh… Busch.
“Kyle’s good, obviously, but we also know he’s beatable,” Crafton said, smiling despite his recent head-to-head record against the series’ three-time 2014 race-winner. “We’re hoping we can pull that off when it matters.”
With only 35 trucks on the property, NASCAR amended Friday’s schedule by cancelling Keystone Light Pole Qualifying and setting the starting lineup per the rulebook, which put Crafton in the second position — next to Busch.
Qualifying was replaced by a final one-hour practice session that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET.
Friday’s 200-lap, 200-mile main event will be telecast live on FOX Sports 1 at 5:30 p.m. ET, preceded by The Setup pre-race show at 5. The live broadcast on MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio begins with pre-race coverage at 5. Live timing & scoring for the weekend’s events will be at www.nascar.com.
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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.