Crafton Stays "Too Tough to Tame" at Darlington Raceway
Remains First in Series Driver Points at 250th Start; ThorSport Racing's Focus Remains on Championship
Darlington, SC - March 13th, 2011 - NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points leader Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Menards/Tarkett Chevy Silverado for ThorSport Racing, powered home in fourth position at the notorious Lady in Black on Saturday night. The finish kept him securely on top of the series points boards, as well as gave the team the third top 10 finish of the season's three races and first top five.
Nicknamed "Mr. Consistency" this year by the motorsports press, Crafton was true to form from practice to qualifying to race night in the one-day show. Running in the top 10 in both practices, Crafton started the race in fourth position with a qualifying lap time of 28.448 - just one tenth out of pole range.
Running sixth through the first caution of a record 11 for the night, Crafton and crew chief Bud Haefele decided to stay out. On the second caution of the night at lap 25, he brought the truck in for four tires and fuel, saying it was free and lots of debris on the track.
"The truck was super free at the start of the race. I felt we could've been up front a little more but weren't - I just wasn't racing the race track as much," said Crafton. "People were taking chances early, so Bud and I were just trying to be smart."
Restarting 14th and still feeling loose, the team went on to battle for position over the course of the next 92 laps and five cautions. Pitting twice, once at lap 58 and next at lap 88, Crafton wheeled as high as seventh position while still giving feedback that the truck was "free, free, free." Crafton would restart 23rd and make an impressive drive through the pack to the fourth position at the checkers. The solid performance delivers not only his first top five finish this season, but also his 75th consecutive top 10 series finish and third top 10 finish in as many races this season.
"Coming back for a top five after restarting 23rd with 46 laps to go - that's really good and I'm proud of how we can dig. I can't thank the guys enough for working their tails off and giving me a great truck to be able to drive through it like we did at the end. I just wish we hadn't lost track position today - I think we could've had something for the 18 without that loss. We live and die as a team though, and we're going to take that to Martinsville."
-source: thorsport racing