Matt Crafton No. 88 Menards/Ideal Door Chevrolet Express Notes: O'Reilly 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway Sandusky, Oh. (August 15, 2010) -- Despite a rough start to the season that saw Matt Crafton's trademark consistency take a beating, he's ...
Matt Crafton No. 88 Menards/Ideal Door Chevrolet Express Notes: O'Reilly 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway
Sandusky, Oh. (August 15, 2010) -- Despite a rough start to the season that saw Matt Crafton's trademark consistency take a beating, he's back in contention to pick up another top-five finish in the championship standings. Crafton is looking for every point he can get, and he knows the best way to close the gap between himself and the drivers in front of him is to win races. He finished second at Bristol last August and has run near the front there frequently; he has rarely put himself in a position to wrinkle up his No. 88 Menards Chevy and he believes his best shot to win at Bristol is now.
Why are you so confident heading into Bristol? "I am always confident whenever we go to the racetrack, but we're especially confident heading back to Bristol this year. We had a great race there last year and we think we can pick up that one position we missed out on when we were second. But the key to Bristol is survival. It's like Daytona and Talladega that your destiny isn't really in your hands. You can run great all night and someone else's mistake can put you on the trailer."
You have always been steady and consistent, what has changed over the years to take you from a driver racing for the top ten at the end of the season to racing for the top five and even the championship? "A lot of it is the equipment and the guys on the team improving. But the biggest part for me as a driver is that I keep learning. Even last week at Darlington, we were running third and Todd Bodine passed me. I followed him for five or six laps and used his line and it immediately helped me getting into turn three. I had to go over and thank him after the race. If you aren't learning when you're out there then you should probably quit because that's the only way to make yourself better."
Did you like racing on the "old" Bristol or do you like the "new" reconfigured Bristol with progressive banking? "I liked the old Bristol because it was a little more physical. It's great that we have all the room we have to race now but there was nothing like getting out there and trading a little paint and using the bump and run. With all the room to race there now you don't see that quite as much. But I like the new configuration too. It was really good for us last year."
What does Bristol have in common with the short tracks you grew up racing at in California? "The old Bristol really reminded me of the way you drove Mesa Marin. If you're truck wasn't handling right you could hook the apron and it would help loosen you up just enough. We used to hook the left side tires down in the grass at Mesa Marin to do the same thing. Now that they've reconfigured the track you can move up the track to see if you can change your handling if you need to."