TMS Media Relations | Oct 27, 2014
FORT WORTH, Texas (Oct. 27, 2014) - One of the more understated drivers in NASCAR is fittingly chasing history in a quiet and methodical fashion as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series enters its final three races, beginning with Friday night’s WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Menards Toyota for ThorSport Racing, is edging closer to becoming the first driver in the truck series’ 20-year history to win back-to-back championships as he arrives at Texas Motor Speedway as the series points leader.
Crafton, a 38-year-old Tulare, Calif., native, cruised to his first championship in 2013, ultimately finishing the season with a 50-point spread over runner-up Ty Dillon. He has yet another young star on his heels this season as 20-year-old Ryan Blaney of Brad Keselowski Racing trails the defending series champion by 18 points with three races to go. Darrell Wallace, another young driver full of promise, is third at 22 points back and ThorSport teammate Johnny Sauter is fourth at 40 back.
Crafton plans to go about his business as usual, one race at a time and be focused on his performance and not the competition.
“We’re just trying to capitalize at each track,” Crafton said. “If we keep doing what we’re doing, it’ll take care of itself. I just know the other team – Sauter and their group – they have more pressure because I was in that situation last year and know what they’re feeling right now. I know what I’m feeling and it’s a lot less pressure.”
Crafton looked to be once again separating himself from the rest of the pack heading into the Oct. 19 race at Talladega, but after a sub-par 14th-place finish, his championship lead was trimmed to 16 points over Blaney. Crafton, however, rebounded with a third-place finish this past Saturday at Martinsville Speedway for his fourth top-five performance in the last five races. It is that type of consistency, not wins, that has been the forte for Crafton over the last two seasons.
“If we lose (the championship), I truly believe it will be bad luck,” said Crafton, who has two wins on the season. “We won’t lose it because we get outran. I truly believe that we have the best group of guys in the garage. I believe 100 percent in them. It’s really cool to be in the situation I’m in.”
Texas Motor Speedway has traditionally been hit or miss for Crafton over his career, though recently there have been a lot more hits, including winning June’s WinStar World Casino & Resort 400. The victory was Crafton’s first at Texas after finishing runner-up three previous times. He hasn’t finished outside the top 10 at the 1.5-mile oval in his last six attempts, including four efforts among the top five.
“Finally getting a win at Texas was really cool; everyone wants to win at Texas,” Crafton said. “Without a doubt, we had the fastest Menards Toyota Tundra in June and I can’t wait to get back there this weekend and do it all over again. In June, the track is hot and slippery, but this weekend, there will be cooler temps and a lot of grip so it’ll be faster. This race is 20 laps shorter so we’ll have to see how the race plays out, but I feel confident we can pull off a sweep.”
The truck series sweep at Texas has occurred on four occasions, with the most recent coming in 2012 by Sauter. The others were Ron Hornaday Jr. in 2008 and Brendan Gaughan in ’02 and again in ’03.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series goes on track Thursday with practice from 1-2 p.m. CT and followed by final practice from 2:30–4 p.m. Pinnacle Propane Qualifying Days will start with the NCWTS on Friday, beginning at 2:15 p.m. The WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 (147 laps/220.5 miles) begins at 7:30 p.m. CT Friday and will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 as well as on radio with MRN (national), Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90 (national) and The Fan 105.3 KRLD-FM (local).
For tickets or information on the WinStar World Casino & Resort 350, please visit www.texasmotorspeedway.com or call the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500.