Driver Points: 3rd (-32)
Owner Points: 3rd
Avondale, AZ (November 14, 2015) – Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota Tundra, entered Friday night’s Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway (PIR) looking to make up ground in his chase for a third championship title. Showing speed in the lone NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) practice session on Thursday afternoon, Crafton qualified fourth for the 150-lap event, and showed promise for a solid run. Leading the 32-truck field three times, for 15 laps, Crafton was battling current point leader, Erik Jones for position, late in the race, and got loose on the frontstretch. The ThorSport Racing driver would make contact with Jones, and then his ThorSport Racing teammate, Johnny Sauter. The chain of events left the two-time and defending series champion 20 laps down to the race winner with a 23rd-place finish.
Starting fourth, Crafton wasted no time making his way into the runner-up position, battling a Toyota Tundra that was free at the start of a run, but good as the run progressed. Crew chief, Carl “Junior” Joiner brought the No. 88 machine to pit road, under caution, at lap 40, for two tires and fuel. Restarting third, Crafton was quick to make his way back up to the runner-up position, stalking Jones for the race lead.
Running lap times faster than the leader, Crafton was able to run down Jones, and make a pass for the lead as the fifth caution flag of the night was displayed at lap 105 for an accident in Turn 3. “Junior” brought Crafton back down pit road for four tires and fuel. Quick work by the over-the-wall crew, allowed the Menards driver to gain the lead for the lap 109 restart.
Leading the next 10 circuits, Crafton would get loose, exiting Turn 4, and make contact with Jones as the two battled for the top spot. Unfortunately, Crafton would spin, making contact with his teammate, Johnny Sauter, and suffer major damage to the No. 88 machine. Following multiple attempts down pit road, and behind the wall, to fix the damage, Crafton would retire 20 laps early from the 150-lap race, relegating the veteran driver to a 23rd-place finish behind race winner, Timothy Peters.
The “DNF” would force the defending series champion to lose valuable points in the 2015 NCWTS driver point standings. With only one race remaining in the season, Crafton is third in points, 32 points behind leader, Erik Jones.
“It was 100 percent my fault. Erik (Jones) and I were close, and it was tight racing. I just got loose under him and started chasing it. I touched him (Jones) and then it just sent me the rest of the way around. I hate it for all of us, I hate it for my guys, and I dang sure didn’t want to do it with the 4 (Jones), and those guys. I want to be able to see a Toyota win the championship. We’ll just hold our heads up and go to Homestead – see what we can do there to close out the season strong.”
- Matt Crafton was fifth-quick in the lone NCWTS practice session on Thursday afternoon
- The ThorSport Racing driver started fourth, and finished 23rd in the Lucas Oil 150 at PIR on Friday
- Crafton led the field three times for 15 of the 150 laps in Friday night’s NCWTS race at PIR. The ThorSport Racing driver has now led 678 laps in 2015, a career-high for one season
- In 15 starts at PIR, Crafton has five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes
- In 2015, Crafton has five wins (Atlanta Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, and Martinsville Speedway), three poles (Michigan International Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and Texas Motor Speedway – October), 12 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes
- The ThorSport Racing driver fell to third in the 2015 NCWTS driver point standings following the 22nd race of the season, 13 points behind second-place Tyler Reddick, and 32 points behind leader, Erik Jones
- Timothy Peters won the Lucas Oil 150 at PIR followed by John Hunter Nemechek (second), John Wes Townley (third), Daniel Suarez (fourth), and Tyler Reddick (fifth)
- Following the Lucas Oil 150, Toyota clinched its eighth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) manufacturer’s championship
- In 360 career NCWTS starts, Crafton has led 1296 laps, and earned 10 poles en route to 10 wins, 88 top-five and 209 top-10 finishes
- Up next: The NCWTS 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday, November 20