Crafton Finishes Third At Loudon – Extends Point Lead

Sep 21, 2014

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In pure championship fashion, Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Slim Jim/Menards Toyota Tundra, overcame a 30th-place qualifying result to take the lead in the closing stages of the race before ultimately crossing the stripe third in the 17th annual UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. This was the reigning champion’s track-best finish in 12 starts at the “Magic Mile.” The solid run allowed the ThorSport Racing driver to extend his lead over second-place Johnny Sauter in his quest to be the first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver to win back-to-back championships.

Starting last due to an electrical problem in qualifying, Crafton worked his way into the 12th position by lap 10 and was sitting comfortably inside the top-10 by lap 20, battling a Toyota Tundra that was, “free, but a good free.” Crew chief Carl “Junior” Joiner called the No. 88 machine to pit road for scheduled stops under green at lap 68 and under caution at lap 102 for four tires and fuel. Running consistently inside the top-five, Crafton was scored a race-high third when the second caution flag was displayed at lap 147 for an accident in Turn 4. Joiner made the call to bring the Menards Tundra to pit road for right side tires and fuel only, while some trucks opted for four tires.

Restarting on the outside of the front row on lap 152, Crafton took the lead on the restart and maintained his position out front through the next 20 circuits, including two restarts at laps 159 and 164, respectively. However, on the final restart at lap 171, the 00 machine passed the Menards Tundra and never looked back. Crafton would cross the stripe in the third position behind race winner Cole Custer, scoring his third top-five finish in 12 starts at the 1.058-mile oval.

• Matt Crafton finished third in the UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, his track-best finish in 12 starts at the 1.058-mile oval
• Crafton remains first in the NCWTS driver point standings, seven markers ahead of ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter
• Crafton led the field one time for 20 laps during the 175-lap event
• Crafton’s third-place finish at NHMS marked his third top-five and sixth top-10 finish in 12 starts
• In 2014, Crafton has two wins, nine top-five and 12 top-10 finishes
• Cole Custer won the 17th-annual UNOH 175 at NHMS followed by Darrell Wallace, Jr. (second), Crafton (third), Johnny Sauter (fourth), and John H. Nemechek rounded out the top-five finishers
• Up next for the No. 88 ThorSport Racing team is the Rhino Linings 350 at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway on Saturday, September 27

Quote – Matt Crafton:
“We had a fast truck. It’s a shame that we finished third with it. I don’t know, that 00 (Cole Custer) was fast. He had four tires right there at the end – we were kind of sitting ducks with two tires. I didn’t think that four tires was going to pay off quite as much as it did. All the restarts we had right there at the end killed us.”

Practice: 2nd; 29.067 seconds/131.031mph
2nd Practice: 1st; 28.77 seconds/132.347mph
Final Practice: 9th; 28.95 seconds/131.56mph
Qualifying: 30th, did not take a time due to an unapproved adjustment

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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.