Homestead: Matt Crafton preview

Crafton's Last Ride With KHI Huntersville, N.C. (Nov. 16, 2004) - The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) may be coming to a close, but don't expect Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Silverado, to be laid back entering...

Crafton's Last Ride With KHI

Huntersville, N.C. (Nov. 16, 2004) - The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) may be coming to a close, but don't expect Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Silverado, to be laid back entering the season's final showdown in Friday's Ford 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Crafton, 28, will be released as driver of Kevin Harvick, Inc.'s No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Silverado after this Friday's NCTS finale, but is hungrier than ever to grab that elusive win that could help close a deal for the 2005 season.

"It has been a great year for me, but my hunger for a win is unexplainable," says Crafton. "Kevin Harvick and GM Goodwrench gave me the opportunity to experience a career-best year and I hate that we are parting ways at the end of the season, but my only focus heading into this weekend is to bring us all home a win before we part ways. This is a business and I have to take it in stride and focus on my next step. I have been in contact with some owners and I am getting close to finalizing something for next year, but nothing is confirmed yet. I just want to have a steering wheel in my hands and be getting paid to do what I love to do."

Ron Hornaday, former two-time NCTS champion, has been named Crafton's replacement and brings his toughness and competitiveness back home to the trucks. "The trucks is where it all started and where I belong," said Hornaday. Harvick made the decision to hire Hornaday last month, whose style of racing is very similar to Harvick's. Both men can be aggressive on the track and stubborn off the asphalt.

Hornaday is expected to have an instant impact on Team GM Goodwrench and their chance to win the 2005 NCTS championship. Also, his return renews a few rivalries with some friends in the Truck Series including Jack Sprague and Mike Skinner.

No. 6 GM Goodwrench driver Matt Crafton on Homestead-Miami Speedway...

Your thoughts on the new track...

"They reconstructed Homestead last season and completely changed its layout. It went from a flat to a high-banked surface, and I think that made it a ton better. I got my best finish out of three attempts so far in 2002 with a ninth place finish. The groove's a lot wider and you've got plenty of room to pass. The racing was definitely more exciting last year."

How was your test session two weeks ago?

"It wasn't bad. We had our problems, but ended up pretty good overall on both days. We definitely learned what we can't do there and that the place lost a lot of grip. It is not as fast as it was last year so, I don't think the racing is going to be as exciting as last year."

No. 6 GM Goodwrench crew chief Wally Rogers on Homestead-Miami Speedway...

What did you learn from the test?"From our test two weeks ago, we quickly learned that the track has lost a lot of grip, but it is sill a high-banked fast track. The draft comes into effect especially down the straight-aways so, you have to stay tucked-up with the other trucks. You also have to worry about the left front fender having clean air to keep it from becoming aero tight."

Points of Interest...

*Runnin' It...Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 008 to Homestead-Miami Speedway for this weekend's 201-mile race. This chassis has brought home a seventh place finish in Nashville, Tenn., a 22nd place finish in Las Vegas, Nev., a 24th place finish in Fontana, Calif., and a 21st place finish in Texas.

*Track stat...Crafton's record at Homestead includes one top-10 finish, one top-15 finish and one top-30 finish. Out of his three attempts his best finish of ninth came in 2002.

*Career-Bests...In 2004, Crafton has seen his career-best start and career-best finish take place. His career-best start of fourth came in May at Lowe's Motor Speedway and again in August at Nashville Superspeedway. His career-best finish of third came at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in August and he just tied that finish two races ago at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway.

*Did you know...Crafton is the only driver in the top-five in points without a win this season and is one of two drivers in the top-10 in points without a win.

*Movin' on up...In 2004, Crafton's average starting and finishing positions have decreased substantially since he began in the series in 2001. He has improved his average starts from 17.0 to 12.7 and his average finishes have jumped from 16.3 to 11.0.

*Birds eye view...Veteran NASCAR driver Rick Carelli has been in the spotter stand since Texas in June and has helped steer Crafton to four of his five top-five finishes and 12 of his 16 top-10 finishes.

*All in the family...Crafton's father works at Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR). Danny Crafton has worked at MWR for the last two years and his shop duties include mechanical/electrical work.

*Start time...for Friday's Ford 200 is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. EST. TV coverage of the 134-lap event on SPEED starts at 3:30 p.m. EST, with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 3:00 p.m. EST. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.

-khi-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Mike Skinner , Kevin Harvick , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jack Sprague , Matt Crafton , Rick Carelli
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing