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Matt Crafton Confident in ThorSport’s Intermediate Program

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As youth look to take charge in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Matt Crafton is among the group of ruthless veterans trying to stay at the top of the board.

The driver of the ThorSport No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra enters Kansas sitting third in points with two top-10’s.

Although currently not locked into the Chase, this weekend at Kansas Speedway presents him a great opportunity. 

“Kansas and I have a love-hate relationship,” Crafton said. “In the last four races I’ve finished first, second, first, and second. So, if history repeats itself, we should be good this weekend. It feels like it’s been an eternity since we’ve been at the race track, but I always enjoy getting back to Kansas. The asphalt there is getting better with age – we can move around a little more now.”

The mile-and-a-half could also kick-start a strong summer stretch for Crafton, based upon the past two years. A runner-up finish last year parlayed into a pair of victories at Dover and Charlotte. In 2015, he followed a victory with a pair of top-fives.

Success through May is no surprise as the intermediate tracks typically play in to the strength of ThorSport. The team has garnered 13 wins and 14 top-fives over the past two seasons.

“Our mile and a half program have been one of our strongest programs,” he said. “I feel very confident coming to Charlotte and Dover. Last year, we ran very good at Kansas and Charlotte and Dover and then Texas, and came back and shop burned down and it went down hill from there.”

Crafton began last year with seven top-10’s in the first eight races, before the ThorSport Racing shop sustained heavy damage due to a fire starting overnight in the basement. The cause was not released, but severely damaged 40% of their shop. 

While Crafton and his teammates Ben Rhodes, Cameron Hayley and Rico Abreu soldiered on, it showed in their performance as Crafton went seven races without a top-five.

“I think we were in five different shops, four different locations, and they weren’t like a shop that was across the parking lot; they were literally five to 10 miles apart from each other,” he said. “We’d get something done here, and then we’d have to load it in the trailer to take it somewhere else. So it really put a damper on our season last year.” 

The team rebounded, beginning with a third at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to start the Chase, with Crafton joining Johnny Sauter, Christopher Bell, and Timothy Peters to race for the championship in the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Crafton came up short, finishing seventh as Sauter won the race and the title.

The momentum has carried into 2017, as Crafton was solid at Atlanta with a runner-up finish to Bell.

“We were very strong at Atlanta,” Crafton said. “Christopher Bell was definitely a little bit better than us there, but (Carl Joiner) Junior and I feel like we know where we were wrong at Atlanta.”

Now with sights set on Kansas, this weekend will show whether are able to close to gap and snag their first victory of 2017.


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Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.