Crafton closes strong, takes ninth in Ford 200.

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - After racing into and out of the top-10 throughout much of the day, a turn of pit stop fortune left Matt Crafton 16th and a lap behind the leaders with 20 laps remaining in the Ford 200 NASCAR Truck Series race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway Friday, November 15.  After a thrilling dash to the checkered flag, Crafton claimed ninth position.

"Wish we'd had another lap or two," Crafton said.  "Might have been able to get another spot in the Menards/Agromin Chevrolet, but we came out of here with another top-10 and have some momentum to help carry us through the winter."

Crafton charged from 10th to seventh in the first two laps of the 134-lap race around the 1.5-mile oval.  He held that position for more than 20 laps before settling into ninth spot for much of the first third of the race.

Crafton was 11th when he brought his truck to pit road for the first time on lap 50.  The SealMaster Racing crew changed four tires and refueled on his Chevrolet Silverado.  After the pit stop sequence, he was ninth.

A second green-flag pit stop followed on lap 104.  Crafton was 12th at the time of the stop.  After a quick stop for two tires and enough fuel to finish the race, Crafton returned to the track in 17th position.  A caution on lap 111 caught Crafton and several other top-running trucks a lap behind leader Ted Musgrave.

Crafton pitted during the caution for four new tires.  When the race resumed on lap 116, he was in 16th position.  Crafton charged to 12th in the first two laps after the restart.  He passed into 10th with seven laps remaining and ninth on the penultimate lap.

Crafton finished the season 15th in the series point standings.  He posted six top-10 finishes in 22 events with a season-best seventh in Roanoke, Texas in June.

The 2003 NASCAR Truck Series begins with an event in Daytona Beach, Fla. on Friday, February 14.