Charlotte 2nd Frustrates Crafton, but Opens Point Lead

May 17, 2014

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Last Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, for the second consecutive NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Matt Crafton’s No. 88 Hormel / Menards Toyota Tundra finished second to Kyle Busch.

Not surprisingly, Crafton’s no more happy about it than he was two weeks ago in Kansas.

“I’m getting tired of it,” Crafton said immediately after the North Carolina Education Lottery 200. “You’re getting beat by one of the best in the business, but it still doesn’t make it any sweeter because I want to win these races.”

On the positive side, defending NCWTS champion Crafton did open his lead in the Truck Series’ standings to 11 points over Timothy Peters.

But it was hard to take much solace from that after a crazy one-day race that resulted from four hours of Thursday practice being rained-out. The teams practiced for two hours Friday morning — in conditions that were radically different from the night conditions they raced under at the drastically temperature-sensitive Charlotte oval.

Crafton qualified second in a wild Keystone Light Pole Qualifying that saw the final round settled with seconds remaining on the final lap when the 12 cars in the round went out virtually en masse.

But the conditions put Crafton in position to tiptoe early in the race to prevent getting involved on a night in which nine cautions flew for the second straight race.

“I just tried to be patient,” Crafton said. “We started the night off — we were definitely off — really tight. The place didn’t free up quite as much as it usually does from what I’ve seen. We just kept making small adjustments on it to make it better.

“We made it quite a bit better for the short run — I could run with Kyle (Busch). I ran about five (truck lengths) back from him for five, six, seven laps then I got tight just like I was all night. I think if we had one more adjustment I don’t think he would have been able to drive away from us like he did at the end right there.”

Once the early pit-stop strategy shook out, Crafton consistently was the best-positioned of the three ThorSport Racing Tundras in the race. On the final restart, with 13 laps-to-go Crafton and ThorSport teammates Johnny Sauter and Jeb Burton lined-up second, third and fourth respectively behind Busch.

But as Crafton had alluded to earlier, once the green flag flew Busch checked-out. Right after Busch took the white flag Burton got run into a lapped car while racing for third and with the last-lap caution — the seventh in the second half of the race as opposed to two in the first half — the race was over.

“That’s just the way it is in racing,” Crafton said. “I’ve heard them say before, ‘cautions breed cautions’ (but) all in all, not a bad night. This Menard’s Toyota Tundra was pretty good.”

Crafton gets his next chance to go for a Truck Series win on May 30 at Dover International Speedway, as part of a NASCAR tripleheader with the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series.

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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.