Phoenix International Raceway – Back To Where It All Began For Crafton

TSR-Crafton-Web-NewsPgTeam Information:
2015 Driver Point Standings: 2nd (-17)
2015 Owner Point Standings: 2nd
Crew Chief: Carl “Junior” Joiner

Sandusky, Ohio (October 9, 2015) – 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 two-time, and defending series champion calls the one-mile oval a “hometown” race. Crafton, who got his start in the Featherlite Southwest Tour, a highly competitive regional series, made 12 starts at PIR between 1997 and 2006, and his success at the Avondale, Ariz. track included two poles (2000, 2001), a win (2006), and three top-five finishes. Crafton’s four year tenure in the series produced a championship title in 2000, and opened the door to his career in NASCAR, racing for Duke and Rhonda Thorson at ThorSport Racing in 2001.

Crafton, who has made 14 starts at PIR in the NCWTS since 2001, scored his best start (second), and best finish (second) at the one-mile oval in 2014, and looks to Friday night’s Lucas Oil 150, to make up some ground in the series point standings. Currently second, with a 17-point deficit, the ThorSport Racing driver hopes experience equal results following the 150-lap race. In fact, Crafton has the most starts (14), most top-five finishes (5), most top-10 finishes (10), has completed the most laps (2082), and has the most lead lap finishes (13), of any other driver entered in the 25th annual event. Furthermore, according to NASCAR’s Loop Data Statistics, Crafton ranks first in Laps in the Top 15 (1367), and sixth in Driver Rating (102.9).

A win at PIR Friday night, a track where it all started, could mean history in the making for Crafton – a three-peat.

Sounding off – Matt Crafton:

On Phoenix:

“Phoenix is a lot different than it use to be, without a doubt. The back straightaway is like a huge roller coaster. It’s a good track, but it doesn’t have enough tire wear yet in my opinion. We’ve started to see more side-by-side racing there lately. It’s also close to home for me too. I have a ton of laps there, just not on the new configuration.”

On the Championship:

“I’m not worried about it. Like I said, our plan is to go into the next two races and try to lead the most laps and win the race. That was our goal before Martinsville, and we accomplished that feat. We had a fast truck in Texas last weekend, won the pole and finished fourth. It’s Erik’s (Jones) championship to lose, and ours to win right now. He’s got to be on defense and all we’ve got to do is play offense, try not to make any mistakes and he’s got to do the same thing. We just can’t have any bad luck.”

News & Notes:

  • Chassis Chatter… The No. 88 ThorSport Racing team will unload chassis No. 50 for Friday’s Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Speedway. This particular chassis has been utilized three times this season at Iowa Speedway in Newton (4th), Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, OH (9th), and Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet (14th).
  • Phoenix Stats… Crafton will make his 15th start at PIR on Friday. In 14 previous starts, the Menards driver has five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes with a best start of second, three times (2007, 2010, and 2014), and a best finish of second (2014).
  • 2015 Season Review… In 21 starts this season, Crafton has led 663 laps, a career-best in one season, en route to three poles (Michigan International Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and Texas Motor Speedway), a career-best five wins in one season (Atlanta Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, and Martinsville Speedway), 12 top-five, and 17 top-10 finishes. The reigning series champion has completed 3101 of 3171 laps attempted (97.8%), and has an Average Start of 7.0, and an Average Finish of 7.2.
  • Previous Race Recap… Crafton earned his third pole at Texas Motor Speedway, and the 10th of his NCWTS career for the WinStar World Casino 350k. The ThorSport Racing driver went on to lead 27 laps en route to a fourth-place finish, his 88th career top-five finish.

Crafton’s NCWTS stats at Phoenix:

  • 14 starts since 2001
  • 2082 of 2091 laps completed (99.6%)
  • 0 laps led
  • 5 top-five finishes
  • 10 top-10 finishes
  • Best start: 2nd (2007, 2010 & 2014)
  • Best Finish: 2nd (2014)
  • Average start: 8.4
  • Average finish: 8.7

Matt Crafton’s 2014 Highlights:

  • Won second consecutive NCWTS championship title to become the first driver in series history to win back-to-back titles
  • First career multi-win season with victories at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth
  • 10th consecutive full season in second stint with ThorSport Racing
  • Earned a series-leading 7.0 average finish
  • Career-best 13 top-five finishes and 298 laps led

Crafton’s Career Truck Series Stats:

  • 359 starts since 2000
  • 10 wins
  • 88 top-five finishes
  • 209 top-10 finishes
  • 10 poles
  • 55,804 laps completed
  • 1581 laps led
  • Average start: 13.0
  • Average finish: 11.5

Race Information:
Date: Friday, Nov. 13, 2015
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1
Track Details: 1-mile oval
Distance: 150 laps/150 miles

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