Matt Crafton – Ford Performance Media Quotes

Jan 24, 2018

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Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Ford F-150 sat down with the media during the NASCAR Media Tour on Tuesday, January 23 to talk about the switch to Ford, and the 2018 season…

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE MOVE TO FORD?  “We’re looking forward to working with Ford – they’re what I started with in NASCAR.  In my old Southwest Tour days, in 1997, I started racing a Ford out west and that’s all my dad has ever owned and raced, so it’s very exciting for him because he always said whenever I first started racing another manufacturer, ‘I don’t know if I can root for you because I’ve only driven a Ford and you’ve only driven a Ford,’ so I guess now I’ve got a new fan in my dad.”  

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

HOW MUCH CHANGEOVER IS THERE WITH THIS SWITCH?  “We have to cut everything off from the windshield bed forward, and put all the Ford noses on it and the Ford back half, so there’s a lot going on. The guys back at the shop are working a lot of hours right now to get this stuff done.”

SO YOUR TESTING IN CHARLOTTE ON WEDNESDAY?  “Yeah, and all the crew chiefs are coming down and they’re all gonna work together and just come up with ideas.  The biggest thing is we put a new nose on and just finished this weekend.  We haven’t taken it to the wind tunnel yet.  We have no idea what we’ve got, so it should be fun.”

FORD IS GIVING YOU WIND TUNNEL HELP AND TECHNOLOGY, CORRECT?  “Yeah, we’re gonna get technology, wind tunnel time and a lot of stuff that we’ve always had in the past.  I’m looking forward to it, but right now it’s all happened so late that to build a truck, to get it to the wind tunnel, to do all that is pretty much next to impossible.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR OTHER PLANS THAT ARE GOING TO PRECEED SPEEDWEEKS?  “My dirt modified.  That’s my hobby.  That’s what I do for fun on the side.  I love it.  We’re actually building cars in-house now.  Elite Chassis moved into my shop.  We’re building chassis and putting them all together in my shop, but I’m gonna race Volusia and probably 10 other different races throughout the year in the dirt car and get ready for Eldora again.”

YOU WEREN’T AT THE CHILI BOWL.  “There just weren’t enough seats available at that time.  I wanted to.  It’s definitely on the bucket list.  I had so much fun.  I’m very, very critical of myself.  I went there and I struggled the first practice.  The second practice I thought I was like way better and Christopher Bell was so excited.  That kid thought I was his kid out there and he came in and he was just ecstatic watching me.  ‘Are you having fun?’  All he wanted to know all night was if I was having fun.  He’s like, ‘I can’t read you, Matt, because you don’t change.’  I told him it’s because I’m starting to do better and want to do better.  Then I think I was one spot from the transfer spot to make it to the main and we got checked up.  Somebody got spinning and I got spun, which killed it and I had to go to the back.  It was down to like nine laps to go and I was like 20th, and they were only transferring four, so I had a ways to go in that, but I really look forward to driving this Ford F-150 this year.”

YOU COULD SEE YOURSELF TRYING TO RUN THE CHILI BOWL AT SOME POINT?  “Absolutely.  When somebody has a ride open, I’ll definitely be there.”

YOU WOULD BE THE OLDEST ROOKIE OTHER THAN SHATZ.  “Exactly, without a doubt, and I’ll have a blast doing it.”

HOW DO YOU LIKE HAVING A MARCH RACE IN VEGAS?  “I like it.  Vegas is always a great place to go, a great place to hang out.  I’m from out west, so a lot of friends and family go out there and get to hang out.  That place is getting a lot of age on the asphalt, so we’re getting to move around a lot more, so that’s some of the reason why I like going to some of the mile-and-a-halves and getting to move around, instead of being on the bottom all day long.”

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY FROM THE SOUTHWEST TOUR DAYS IN A FORD?  “Winning the Southwest Tour championship and just me and my dad working together.  We used to literally build our own chassis and every component on that race car we did, so it was very sweet and now to see that we’re back with Ford it’s an awesome deal for me and my dad as well.”

DID YOU ANTICIPATE A SITUATION LIKE THIS AS FAR AS COMING BACK TO FORD ONE DAY?  “I had no idea, to be honest.  It was definitely something that caught me off guard when they told me what we were doing.  I was like, ‘Wow, OK.’  I’m very excited about it without a doubt just for the fact of that’s what I started in.  That’s what I started my NASCAR career in and that’s what my dad has done and raced all his life.”

COULD WE SEE YOU AT VEGAS ON THE DIRT TRACK?  “You never know.  It would be a lot of fun to do it.”

BEING THE ELDER STATESMEN IN THE SPORT.  WHAT ARE THE FIVE RACES ON YOUR BUCKET LIST YOU WOULD LIKE TO RACE OR ATTEND?  “I’d rather race them than attend them.  Do the Chili Bowl.  That would definitely be one of them now that I drove one.  I’d like to run a modified at Eldora.  I’d like to do the big race out there.  Do some off-road races.  I’d like to do the Baja 1000 or Baja 500.  I’m a big fan of that stuff, and I had knocked one off my list a few years back when I got to race in the Daytona 500.”

ANY LATE MODEL RACES?  “I’m gonna probably go to Canada again this year.  The Outlaw Late Model was up in Michigan at Kalamazoo.  I don’t have anything on the schedule for there, but I do run the super late model in Canada.  I was just talking this week and it looks like I may get up there again to do maybe the 250 or the 150 at some point.”

DO YOU FEEL THIS PUTS YOU IN AS GOOD A POSITION BEING THE LONE FORD TEAM?  “I’m in a very, very good position to be able to win more championships, without a doubt.  We won two in the past and there’s no reason why I can’t get three, four, or five more.  We have to be able to keep all the right people at ThorSport Racing, and I know we’ve got the right sponsor, and all the right people right now to make it happen.  I feel we can this year.”

HOW LONG DO YOU SEE YOURSELF GOING WITH THORSPORT RACING?  “I know there was a guy who was a little bit older, who was inducted in the Hall of Fame.  His name is Ron Hornaday, and he kicked our ass weekly, and he was 50 years old. So, I don’t see myself quitting until then at least.”

WHAT DID SEEING HORNADAY GET INDUCTED MEAN TO YOU?  “It meant a lot.  Ron is a great guy.  He truly, truly is the best Truck Series driver I’ve ever raced against.  The guy eats nails, so it was very, very cool to be able to race with him.  He raced out west with my dad, and I never got to race with him out west in the late models, but I’m very, very excited for him.”

WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF THE TRUCK SERIES?  “I think what we need to do is go to some different places and not just have us racing all the same race tracks.  It’s great to race with the Cup Series, but, at the same time, we need to go to different places.  We need more road courses.  If you look in the Cup Series, what races did they sell out?  The road courses.  Our biggest turnout of the year was a road course.  We need another road course, I feel.  Maybe another dirt track. Take us to some short tracks and not just all the mile-and-a-halves. There are so many great short tracks that we used to race at.  I know NASCAR is in a tough box with those people not having enough capacity in the stands to be able to – you have all the sanctioning fees and the tracks have to be able to sell enough seats to be able to pay for those races and a lot of mile-and-a-halves do, so I would definitely like to see us go back to quite a few of these. ORP or IRP or whatever it is now, that’s by far one of my favorite short tracks I’ve ever raced on and Irwindale is still open.  That is my favorite race track I’ve ever raced on – short track.  Just really, really cool short tracks.  Milwaukee, Memphis, there are so many race tracks we could have a good time at and put on one heck of a show, and I guarantee you so many people would come because it’s a new venue.  They don’t need to just keep going to the same track and people just get burned out.  If you eat the same box of cereal every day you kind of get burned out on it.  You throw a different box in there and everybody wants to try it.”

WOULD YOU AGREE IT’S REDUNDANT NOW WITH TRUCK, XFINITY AND CUP RUNNING THE SAME TRACK EVERY WEEK?  DOES IT WORK TO THE DETRIMENT OF THE TRUCK SERIES?  “It might hurt them a little bit, but if you want to see the best race of the weekend you better go and watch the trucks.  I think any true race fan is gonna say that.  We always put on the best show, but I would say there’s one car series I think there should be one Truck Series as well.”