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RATTLESNAKE 400 ADVANCE
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES RATTLESNAKE 400 ADVANCE
CRAFTON HOPES THREE IS THE MAGIC NUMBER DURING RATTLESNAKE 400 AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Three is the number two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Matt Crafton will be focused on during this weekend’s Rattlesnake 400 at Texas Motor Speedway (8 p.m., TV: FOX Sports 1/ Radio: 95.9 The Ranch (Local) / MRN/Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90). Crafton is looking for his third consecutive victory this season – winning the two previous events at Kansas and Charlotte – while also focusing on successfully defending his title as Rattlesnake 400 champion for the third consecutive year.
Crafton has remained red hot during his nine previous appearances at Texas Motor Speedway. He has finished in the top 10 in all nine races, while finishing in the top five on seven occasions during the span and led a combined 237 laps. A victory in Friday’s Rattlesnake 400 would make Crafton the first truck series driver in the history of Texas Motor Speedway to win an event three consecutive years.
“I love coming to Texas,” Crafton said empathically. “It’s such a great race track. I love how we can start a run at the bottom of the race track and then we are up along the fence. It’s just a blast.”
He has regained momentum after a slow start to the season that included a 30th-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway in February. He has finished in the top 10 the previous four races heading into Texas. His string of recent success has him atop the points standings and locked into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ Chase format with 10 races remaining in the regular season.
“It feels very good,” Crafton said after his most recent victory at Charlotte. “Someone brought that to my attention last week that we hadn’t won two in a row. It feels very, very sweet to say we have done it back-to-back. Now maybe we can go for three.”
Like Father, Like Son
John Hunter Nemechek could not have scripted a better start to his first full season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Nemechek, who scored his first career truck series victory last year at Chicagoland Speedway, picked up his second career victory in the second race of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway. With the win, Nemechek locked himself into the new NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase format.
“To get a win early in the year we can focus on winning races and not have to worry about trying to win and lock ourselves in the Chase,” Nemechek said. “It feels good to already get that ticket punched.”
Getting the chance to compete full time in NASCAR has long been a dream of Nemechek, who spent his childhood at the track with his father and former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joe. Challenges exist driving for the single-truck team of Nemco Motorsports, which is funded by his father. The limited funds hasn’t slowed down John Hunter nor hurt his chances at earning a championship.
“I’ve been looking to this moment for a long time,” Nemechek said. “Growing up in the sport, always wanting to be where dad was at the top ranks of NASCAR winning races, winning championships. Now to be able to run a full season, this is every kids dream that grows up racing on a Saturday night.”
Friday’s Rattlesnake 400 will be Nemechek’s second career start at Texas Motor Speedway. His first visit in last November’s WinStar World Casino and Resort 350 resulted in an 11th-place finish. Nemechek remains optimistic about this chance at earning his third career truck series victory considering his knack for winning on 1.5-mile speedways.
“I feel very good about coming back to Texas,” Nemechek said. “I feel like our trucks have done very well on a mile-and-a-half, we just have to adapt to the track each week.”
Back In The Saddle
NASCAR driver German Quiroga will make his return to the Camping World Truck Series this weekend during the Rattlesnake 400 at Texas Motor Speedway. Quiroga, who last competed in the truck series in 2014, will drive the No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota. Quiroga will be the third driver to pilot the No. 11 this season, joining Ben Kennedy and Matt Tifft.
Quiroga, a native of Mexico City, will make his sixth career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at Texas Motor Speedway. In 2013, his first full truck series season, he finished a career-best third during the WinStar World Casino & Resort 400. In his most recent Texas appearance during the fall of 2014 he led 12 laps en route to a 17th-place finish.
"I'm very happy to return to Red Horse Racing," Quiroga said. "I hope we can put together a great run at Texas (Motor Speedway) and that we will be able to put something together so I can keep competing this season."
The Rattlesnake 400 will serve as the Texas Motor Speedway debut for NASCAR’s newly instituted Caution Clock in the Camping World Truck Series. Announced during the offseason, NASCAR will use a 20-minute timer that begins counting down at the start of each green flag. Should a caution period not unfold before the elapsed 20 minutes a yellow flag will fly, allowing teams the opportunity to make a pit stop for adjustments under caution. The Caution Clock will be turned off with 20 laps remaining.
Texas Motor Speedway Looks To Make Its Mark On Truck Series Championship
This marks the first visit to Texas Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2016 and the first under the new Chase format. Eight drivers who have claimed a victory or this season of qualified via points will be eligible for the seven race, three round championship battle. Texas Motor Speedway will play apart in the new Chase format for the series as the series’ return trip for the Longhorn 350 will serve as second of three races in the “Round of 6” heading into the championship event at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Drivers that have secured their spot in the Chase include two-time truck series champion Matt Crafton, veteran Johnny Sauter, John Hunter Nemechek and William Byron.
Eleven drivers entered in the Rattlesnake 400 will make their Texas Motor Speedway debut. Among those making their first trip are 2016 race winner William Byron, Austin native Austin Self, JR Motorsports’ Cole Custer and ThorSport Racing’s Rico Abreu”¦ Matt Crafton has led more than 26 percent of the laps completed this season with 263 of 989”¦Veteran NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Timothy Peters remains the only driver to complete all 989 laps run during the first six races of the season”¦The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series once thought to be dominated by young, up-and-coming drivers in recent years is currently being dominated by seasoned veterans. NCWTS veterans Matt Crafton (39) and Timothy Peters (35) are currently first and second in the points standings. Their combined age is higher than the next three drivers in the standings – Daniel Hemric (25), Spencer Gallagher (26) and William Byron (18).
By The Numbers
30 – The number of career starts Matt Crafton has made at Texas Motor Speedway during his 16-year career. Crafton will join David Starr for most career truck series starts at Texas with his 31st career start during Friday’s Rattlesnake 400.