Loudon: Matt Crafton preview

Utilizing Milwaukee to Master Loudon HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (September 14, 2004) -Two of the biggest things NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) teams take advantage of throughout a season are test dates and racetracks that resemble each other. In...

Utilizing Milwaukee to Master Loudon

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (September 14, 2004) -Two of the biggest things NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) teams take advantage of throughout a season are test dates and racetracks that resemble each other. In August, Kevin Harvick, Inc.'s (KHI) No. 6 GM Goodwrench Truck series racing team took advantage of both at the same time. They participated in a two-day test at The Milwaukee (Wis.) Mile in preparation for the running of the SLYVANIA 200 Presented by Lowe's this Saturday, September 18th at New Hampshire (Loudon) International Speedway.

For NCTS GM Goodwrench driver, Matt Crafton, testing this season has been more important than ever. With a new team, new equipment, and his career-best year since his arrival in the series in 2001, testing has been one more way for the Tulare, Calif., native to become more familiar with his current surroundings while getting to know his new crew as well.

"Testing this year has really helped me adjust to my new equipment and team," says Crafton. "We are a young team and this is the first year I have ever worked with Wally (Rogers, Crew chief) and all the guys from KHI. I think testing has allowed for better communication between driver and crew chief. It definitely shows, sitting fourth in points and leading the series with the most top-10 finishes. I just wish they didn't limit them so we could take advantage of this more."

Adding another top-10 to his series leading 13 top-10 finishes is what Crafton intends to do this weekend and his experience at Loudon shows it's a possibility. Two top-10's and a 13th place finish in three tries at the one-mile oval has him gunning for higher expectations, like the team's first win and a boost in the Truck Series driver points standings.

No. 6 GM Goodwrench driver Matt Crafton on New Hampshire Int'l Speedway...

What did you focus on during your test in Milwaukee that will help you this weekend?

"New Hampshire and Milwaukee are very similar. They are both very flat racetracks. We went back and tested Milwaukee and learned a lot from when we actually raced there. We were terrible when we raced Milwaukee so we went back there to test for Loudon and left feeling that we were the best Chevy out there. We went to focus on our set-up because we just missed it when we raced there last time. We could run good for 10-15 laps, but on a long run we were horrible. "

Why are you not taking the same truck you tested?

"We were extremely happy with the results of the test, but we have decided to take the truck we raced at Richmond last week. It turned really good in the middle of the corners and responded well to our changes. We weren't perfect during the race, but it did practice very well and the bottom line is that Wally made the call. I think it is a good decision and I am really looking forward to the race."

What is the racing like at NHIS?

"I actually like New Hampshire a lot. It is flat and the place does have two grooves. You can run two-wide and race very well there. Where as, at Milwaukee, it is single-file racing. I believe it is the Bahre family who owns the track in New Hampshire and they have done a lot of work to get the track multi-grooved. For awhile the track was a single-groove track, but thanks to the Bahre family's hard work they have made the place a lot better now."

No. 6 GM Goodwrench crew chief Wally Rogers on New Hampshire Int'l Speedway...

How have you guys prepared for NHIS?

"We went and tested at Milwaukee and have some pretty good notes to go by. Our test was very successful and I think we walked away having learned a lot. We went through a lot of different spring and shock combinations and worked on our front-end geometry as well. However, we are not taking the same truck we tested. I feel the truck we had at Richmond responded very well to the changes we made. Looking at the all notes we have from our test in Milwaukee I think we will be better off running this truck as opposed to the other one. New Hampshire has always seemed to be a track where you race as fast as the guys around you are. If you are in the top-five group then you are going to race just as fast as those guys in that group because it is really hard to pass there. It has always been a good track and I have always loved to go there."

Points of Interest...

* Runnin' It...Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 007 to New Hampshire International Speedway for this weekend's 211.6-mile race. This chassis was brand new at Richmond International Raceway last week.

* 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 Motor Speedway two races ago.

* The Boss...For the second time in as many races, Kevin Harvick will be atop the pit box to oversee his full-time truck team because of the companion weekend with the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.

* Sights are set...Crafton's series leading 13 top-10 finishes in 2004 surpass his total top-10 finishes in 2003 and with 8 races to go, his sights are set on knocking down his top-five finishes and to 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 12.1 and his average finishes have improved from 16.3 to 9.8. * 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 SLYVANIA 200 Presented by Lowe's is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 200-lap event on SPEED starts at 1:00 p.m. EDT, with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 12:30 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 , Rick Carelli
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing