Crafton Still Winless After Gateway
Prior to Saturday night’s Drivin for Linemen 200, it would’ve been a fair assessment to say that the 2017 season hasn’t gone the way Matt Crafton had hoped.
In the seven prior races to Gateway, he had only recorded one top-five, which was back in March at Atlanta, had three finishes outside the top-10, and no trips to victory lane, yet.
The stat made the closing laps Saturday all the more intriguing. It looked as if the two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion was about to break through and return to victory lane for the first time in over a year. However, a caution with 12 laps to go halted Crafton and a potential win turned into a disappointing fourth-place finish.
Now, it may not be time panic yet as he sits third in points. A look the numbers though, could raise some concerns. For instance, this is the furthest he has gone into a season with a win since 2012, a year he went winless. Not to mention the fact he only owns three victories in the summer months throughout his career.
Given NASCAR’s playoff format, it is dangerous to be without a win, and the risk is high to try and make the post-season without one – especially, in the Camping World Truck Series, where only eight qualify. Last year saw only two drivers transfer virtue of points. With four winners already this season, and seeing how well guys like Ryan Truex, Chase Briscoe, and Ben Rhodes have run recently, it wouldn’t be surprising if we hit the max. Meaning, Crafton may need to start changing his trends if he wants to contend for a third championship.
Fortunately for the veteran, the next stop for the series is Iowa Speedway, a track where he owns a win, and in his last three starts he has two finishes better than fourth.
Mitchell Breuer is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist
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