Las Vegas: Matt Crafton preview

Matt Crafton Something to Prove in Sin City HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (September 21, 2004) - One way to determine if a NASCAR driver and racing team has what it takes to win a championship is how they rebound from past races that involve unfortunate ...

Matt Crafton
Something to Prove in Sin City

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (September 21, 2004) - One way to determine if a NASCAR driver and racing team has what it takes to win a championship is how they rebound from past races that involve unfortunate circumstances resulting in sub-par performances. Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Silverado, ironically enough is coming of two back-to-back disappointing races. He looks to continue to prove his championship contending presence this Saturday, September 25th, under the lights at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway in the running of the Las Vegas 350.

The Tulare, Calif., native's last two races have dealt him bad cards and declined him the chances of making significant jumps in the championship points race. The first was a 23rd place finish after he was running sixth before a green, white, checkered finish run in with Shane Hmiel at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. Then, last weekend at New Hampshire International Speedway, he walked away 13th after being spun by Travis Kvapil with 60 laps to go when he was well on his way to securing another top-five.

"I had one championship in the Southwest Tour Series," explains Crafton. "The year I won, I had two bad races back-to-back with five races to go. They always say you become a championship driver and team from how you rebound from the less fortunate ones. Let's hope that's the case this year."

Crafton is more determined than ever to rebound this weekend, with his drive and purpose steered only toward capturing his first truck series win. A victory this weekend would end his 89-race winless streak and further solidify Kevin Harvick, Inc.'s quest for their first truck championship.

"We are going to go at these last seven races as if we need to win every single one of them with Las Vegas being the first," adds Crafton. "We have tried to win every one of them as of now, but forget points racing. We are on a mission now. We have got to win a race. This is starting to get aggravating."

No. 6 GM Goodwrench driver Matt Crafton on Las Vegas Motor Speedway...

Describe your last three attempts at LVMS...

"Believe it or not, I actually like the place a lot even though my track record doesn't show it. My first year I broke a motor and finished 28th, and the following year I broke another motor, but was able to run around on seven cylinders to finish 25th. Last year, I finally overcame my motor problems and finished ninth. It is a really neat racetrack. It reminds me a lot of one of my most favorite mile-and-a-half racetracks, Kentucky."

What is your mindset after coming off two unfortunate races...

"You are always going to have those hiccups in the middle or towards the end of the season. It's all about how you can rebound from them, which can highlight a championship contending team from the rest. I'm looking forward to Vegas and I know the guys are pumped for it. We have had decent runs the last two races and have just had unfortunate mishaps end them."

On celebrating your upcoming wedding anniversary in Vegas...

"The week after the California race is Jocelyn and my anniversary, so we are going to hang out in Vegas a few days after the race to celebrate our annual mini-moon as Jocelyn likes to call it."

No. 6 GM Goodwrench crew chief Wally Rogers on Las Vegas Motor Speedway...

Describe the characteristics of LVMS...

"It's an intermediate racetrack, but without the heavy banking like Charlotte (N.C.). You have to find a happy medium for the truck's set-up. The track surface is very smooth. The more motor you have the better. Finding a good balance, from the front to rear, is very important. The track is a lot like Kansas City (Kan.) or Chicago (Ill.). Crafton likes those kinds of tracks, so we should be pretty good."

Points of Interest...

* Runnin' It...Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No.008 to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for this weekend's 219-mile race. This chassis was run at Nashville Superspeedway in August and had only seen wind tunnel time before it brought home a seventh place finish.

* Track Stat...Crafton's last three attempts at the 1.5-mile oval include one top-10 finish and two top-30 finishes due to engine failures.

* 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 three races ago.

* Sights are set...Crafton's series leading 13 top-10 finishes in 2004 surpass his total top-10 finishes in 2003 and with seven races to go, his sights are set on knocking down his top-five finishes and capture his first 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 12.8 and his average finishes have jumped from 16.3 to 10.0.

* Birds eye view...Veteran NASCAR driver Rick Carelli has been in the spotter stand since Texas in June and has helped steer Crafton to three of his four top-five finishes and nine of his 13 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 Saturday's Las Vegas 350 is scheduled for 10:00 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 146-lap event on SPEED starts at 10:00 p.m. EDT, with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 8:30 p.m. EDT. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Kevin Harvick , Matt Crafton , Shane Hmiel , Rick Carelli
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing