Matt Crafton drove into the NASCAR history books on Friday night when he cruised to a ninth-place finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season finale at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway (HMS). With the top-10 result, his sixth at the 1.5-mile oval, the ThorSport Racing driver clinched his second-consecutive NCWTS title, becoming the first driver in the series’ 20-year history to win back-to-back championships. The Tulare, Calif. native now joins the likes of Todd Bodine, Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Jack Sprague as multi-time champions.
Starting from the sixth position, his eighth top-10 start at HMS, Crafton spent 100 percent of the 134 laps in the top-15, running as high as second and as low as 11th. The Menards driver stayed quiet on the radio most of the night as he looked for a place to “ride.” Crew chief, Carl “Junior” Joiner brought the No. 88 Toyota Tundra to pit road three times under caution at laps 25, 71 and 100, respectively, for four tires and fuel only making an adjustment on the final stop to aid a “free on entry, tight on exit” feel.
Crafton’s only scare throughout the 134-lap race came at lap 111, when the 19 truck slid sideways in front of him on the exit of Turn 2. Crafton moved high and avoided Reddick’s truck, which slid down to the apron. Crafton restarted in the seventh position with 20 laps remaining and crossed the stripe ninth behind race winner Darrell Wallace, Jr., his 17th top-10 finish in 22 starts this season.
• Matt Crafton earned the 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) driver’s championship with a ninth-place finish in Friday night’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway
• Crafton became the first driver in series history to earn back-to-back driver’s titles. He captured the title by 21 points over second-place, Ryan Blaney
• In 22 starts in 2014, Crafton has two wins, 13 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes
• Crafton’s second championship ties Todd Bodine, Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Jack Sprague on the all-time list
• This feat marks the fifth NCWTS driver’s championship for Toyota since the manufacturer began competing in the series with the Tundra in 2004
• In Crafton’s 15-year tenure competing in the NCWTS, all with ThorSport Racing, the Tulare, Calif. native has recorded five wins, 76 top-five finishes, 192 top-10’s and seven pole awards
• The 38-year-old driver holds the record among active drivers for most consecutive series starts (338), dating back to his first series race in 2000
• Darrell Wallace, Jr. won the 19th annual NCWTS 200 followed by Kyle Larson (second), Timothy Peters (third), Kyle Busch (fourth), and Ryan Blaney (fifth)
• Wallace’s win was the 18th of the season for Tundra drivers in NCWTS competition – marking the 129th win for Tundra drivers since Toyota joined the series in 2004 and tying Chevrolet (2010) for the all-time series record of wins in a single season
Quote – Matt Crafton:
“To say I made history is definitely very, very cool, but it’s all about the guys at ThorSport Racing that are behind me. Without them, I’m just an average race car driver at best. It’s all about the truck that these guys put underneath me each and every week. This Menards Toyota Tundra has been really — it’s been unbelievable to drive every week this year.”
“It’s awesome — to say that I’ve done it back-to-back and no one has done that — it’s such a good, good feeling. I just remember watching Ron Hornaday race my dad back in the Southwest Tour days. He was an animal then and an unbelievable race car driver. To say I’m in the history books with Ron Hornaday — and all those great race car drivers – its great being in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. I still say it’s the best racing in NASCAR.”
Practice: 1st; 32.388 second/166.728mph
2nd Practice: 17th; 33.055 seconds/163.364mph
Qualifying: 6th; 32.542 seconds/165.939mph
With 287 stores in 14 Midwestern states, Menards has the tools, materials and supplies for all your home improvement needs whether just needing a light bulb or can of paint to building a deck or new home. Menards is known throughout the home improvement industry as the low price leader; it’s no wonder their famous slogan – “SAVE BIG MONEY” – is so widely known and easy to remember. Menards does things right – the company’s strength and success can be seen in the well-stocked and maintained stores, the lowest prices in town and the way guests are always treated like family in a hometown hardware store atmosphere.
Jeld-Wen, with its headquarters in Klamath Falls, Ore., is a corporation founded in 1960 that currently has manufacturing and distribution locations across the United States and in more than 20 countries, with more than 20,000 employees worldwide. The business manufactures building products including windows, interior and exterior doors and garage doors. For more information go to www.jeld-wen.com or call (800) 535-3936.
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.