Matt Crafton – 2016 Martinsville Preview

Oct 26, 2016

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TALLADEGA, AL - OCTOBER 21:  Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Shasta/Menards Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series fred's 250 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 21, 2016 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Team Information:
Crew Chief: Carl “Junior” Joiner
Manufacturer: Toyota
Engine: Triad Racing Technologies
2016 Chase Standings: 4th
2016 NCWTS Owner Point Standings: 3rd

Sounding Off – Matt Crafton:

You are one of six drivers to make Round 2 of the inaugural Chase in the Truck Series. Who do you think your biggest competition is in the final four races?
“I’ve always said, if it’s meant to be, it will happen. Honestly, all five of the Chase drivers will be hard to beat in this Round, but if you go out there and race your heart out, like it’s the first race of the season, it will all take care of itself. If you sit there and worry, looking in the rearview mirror trying to figure out where the Chase drivers are running, how they are running, it will drive you crazy, and you wont do your best job. That’s what I’ve always tried to do. Racing for championships in the Truck Series, and even in the Southwest Tour, and late models, you go out there and take care of yourself. Race your own race, and see how the cards fall at that point. I know I say it all the time, but I truly believe it, if it’s meant to be, it will happen.”

You won at Martinsville last fall, and you’ve been competitive at the final four tracks on the schedule. Which track do you think is your best shot for punching that ticket to the next Round?
“I truly don’t see one as a bad shot, quite honestly. I’ve won at two out of the three race tracks in this Round. I’ve got a couple grandfather clocks from Martinsville, and a couple cowboy hats from Texas. One of the tracks I’d really like to win at, and we’ve had some good runs there, is Phoenix. Quite honestly, I don’t want to wait that long, but I’ve always had that track circled on the schedule. It would be really nice to go out west and win one in front of a lot of friends and family. Honestly, the next four race tracks have been so good to us, and we won at Homestead last year. So, God willing, and we do our jobs, we will have a shot.”

You were competitive at Martinsville in the spring. What did you learn that you can apply to the race this weekend?
“We allegedly had the same tire there in the spring that we’ve had in the past, but the tire didn’t wear out, or nothing like it did in the races the previous years when we’ve been really good. So, it will all depend on how the tires react. During practice in the spring, we honestly thought we had one of the best trucks there, we just didn’t have enough tire fall off. That’s usually what makes the racing so great at Martinsville. All the different pit strategies – coming in late, trying to win based on track position – and tires are falling off. With that combination, you saw a lot more passing. Hopefully, they bring back a different tire that shows a little more wear than it did in the spring. If they do, our normal setup package will work, and we’ll be great in the end. If not, we’ll tune on it, and be just fine.”

News & Notes:

  • Chassis Chatter… The No. 88 ThorSport Racing team will unload chassis No. 63 for Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville Speedway. This is the same chassis that made its debut at New Hampshire Motor Speedway earlier this season, finishing third.
  • Martinsville Minute… Among active series drivers, Crafton enters Saturday’s race with the most starts (29), is tied with the most wins (2), has the most top-five finishes (8), the most top-10 finishes (17), and has completed the most laps (6465).
  • In the Loop – Martinsville… According to NASCAR’s Loop Data statistics, Crafton ranks first in the following categories entering this weekend’s Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville Speedway; Laps in the Top-15 (4011), and Green Flag Passes (657). Crafton ranks third in Fastest Laps Run (171), and Laps Led (279), fifth in Driver Rating (97.4), and seventh in Average Running Position (10.10).
  • Martinsville Rewind – April, 2016… Crafton started 10th, and finished seventh in the 200-lap event at the .529-mile paperclip.
  • The Chase is On… Crafton, a two-time NCWTS champion, is one of six drivers to make it into Round 2 of the inaugural Chase, and is currently ranked fourth in the 2016 Chase standings. Saturday’s 200-lap event is the first of three races in Round 2, and the two-time champion has won at two of the three tracks in this Round (Martinsville and Texas). Following Phoenix, the top-four drivers will advance to Round 3, which kicks off at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the final race of the season.
  • In The Loop – 2016… According to NASCAR’s Loop Data statistics, Crafton ranks first in the following categories; Fastest Laps Run (233), Laps in the Top-15 (2455), Fastest Drivers Early in a Run, and Fastest Drivers Late in a Run. Crafton ranks second in Average Running Position (8.41), Driver Rating (99.3), and Laps Led (425).
  • Race Rewind – Talladega… Making his 11th career NCWTS start at Talladega Superspeedway, Crafton started 13th, ran as high as third, and finished 22nd, due to engine problems on lap 88 of 94.
  • Major Milestone…The Tulare, California native extended the NCWTS record for consecutive starts to 380 in the Fred’s 250 at Talladega Superspeedway, passing four-time NCWTS champion Ron Hornaday, Jr with 360 starts in the 2015 NCWTS season finale at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway. Crafton made his series debut at Auto Club Speedway in November 2000, and enters his 16th full-time season in the NCWTS, and his 15th full-time season with ThorSport Racing in 2016.

Crafton’s Martinsville NCWTS Stats:

  • Starts: 29 since 2001
  • Laps Completed: 6465 of 6636 (97.4%)
  • Laps Led: 279
  • Wins: 2
  • Top-5 Finishes: 8
  • Top-10 Finishes: 17
  • Poles: 1
  • Average start: 12.9
  • Average finish: 10.6

Crafton’s 2016 NCWTS Stats:

  • Starts: 19
  • Wins: 2
  • Top-5 Finishes: 6
  • Top-10 Finishes: 13
  • Poles: 1 (Atlanta)
  • Laps Led: 421
  • Laps Completed: 2601 of 2808 (92.6%)
  • Average Start: 10.5
  • Average Finish: 11.6

Crafton’s Career NCWTS Stats:

  • Starts: 380 since 2000
  • Wins: 13
  • Top-5 Finishes: 95
  • Top-10 Finishes: 223
  • Poles: 12
  • Laps Completed: 58,669
  • Laps Led: 2110
  • Average start: 12.8
  • Average finish: 11.5

Race Information:
Date: Saturday, October 29, 2016
Time: 1:30pm ET on FOX, MRN Radio & SiriusXM Channel 90
Track: .526-mile paperclip
Distance: 200 laps/105.2-miles