Matt Crafton Hopes Consistency Will Help Overcome His MIS-fortune
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 27, 2004) - Matt Crafton's success at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) during the last two years has been dismal. With a 16th place finish and a blown engine, the No.6 GM Goodwrench driver thinks of MIS much like he did of Kansas Speedway early this year. And as the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) returns to action this Saturday, July 31 for the running of the Line-X Spray-on Bedliners 200, the Tulare, Calif., native expects nothing less than a top-five finish.
"My two previous trips to Michigan are very similar to what I experienced at Kansas Speedway prior to running there this year," explains Crafton. "Both times I was running very well and just had some bad luck to keep me from having the finishes to prove it. I went to Kansas earlier this year with a bad track record and left with a fifth place finish and that is how I am approaching this weekend."
Crafton heads into this weekend's 100-lap event at the two-mile tri-oval with 10 top-10 finishes, the most of any driver in the series. Experiencing his most successful year in the series since his arrival in 2001, Crafton is more than confident he will be able to overcome the misfortune MIS has donned on him.
"I try not to think of the past too much as I head to Michigan this weekend," comments Crafton. "Kevin Harvick, Inc. and GM Goodwrench have given me a fresh start and I am enjoying my best year. We have been so consistent this year and that is what it takes to contend for a win week-in and week-out and ultimately the championship."
No. 6 GM Goodwrench driver Matt Crafton on Michigan...
Considering your track record at MIS, are you looking forward to going back?
"Believe it or not Michigan is definitely one of my top-five most favorite tracks. The first year I was running on seven cylinders and finished 16th and last year we qualified badly because we were under horsepower but raced extremely well. I ran fifth and sixth for a good portion of the race and then the motor blew up so I am actually really looking forward to going back with the GM Goodwrench Chevy and KHI."
What makes MIS so unique?
"You can run everywhere. You can run up by the fence, in the middle, and down at the bottom. There are probably four or five grooves you can run on that racetrack. Also, the draft is really big there. I think that is why I raced well last year because you don't have to have the best motor to be able to run up front. You can always get pulled in the draft and drive to the front just by drafting."
What are your thoughts on the new green, white, checker ruling?
"I am actually in favor for it. I think it will make the drivers a little calmer because everybody will not have numerous opportunities to tear up their equipment like we saw during our last race. It was pretty ridiculous last race especially when the drivers knew we were going to get a green, white, checker restart no matter how many wrecks to the finish we had. I think everyone will be a little smarter now, hopefully."
No. 6 GM Goodwrench crew chief Wally Rogers on Michigan...
Do you like the multi groove racing at MIS?
"I have always liked the track but it has never been to good to me in the past. I have always ran well but never finished well. It's kind of a hard place to get a hold of. You either hit it there or you don't. For me there has never really been a happy medium at that place. As far as the multiple grooves, it is actually easier on a crew chief because you can get your truck to run just about anywhere there. You are not dead set on having to run the bottom or the top."
Points of Interest...
* Runnin' It...Team GM Goodwrench will take their mile-and-a-half chassis No.004 to Michigan International Speedway for this weekend's 200-mile race. This chassis has brought home top-10 finishes at Lowes Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway as well as top-five finishes at Kansas Speedway and Kentucky Speedway.
* 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 his career-best finish of fourth came at Kentucky Speedway earlier this month.
* 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 12.5 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 two of his three top-five finishes and six of his 10 top-10 finishes.
* Did you know...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 Line-X Spray-on Bedliners 200 is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 100-lap event on SPEED starts at 1:00 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 12:30 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.