Sandusky, Oh. (November 8, 2010) -- If there is one racetrack on the schedule that Matt Crafton looks forward to going to a little more than the others, it's Phoenix International Raceway. Crafton would tag along with his father, Danny, to watch...
Sandusky, Oh. (November 8, 2010) -- If there is one racetrack on the schedule that Matt Crafton looks forward to going to a little more than the others, it's Phoenix International Raceway. Crafton would tag along with his father, Danny, to watch him race in the biggest Southwest Tour events of the season, the Copper World Classic in early February and, in later years, the season finale in conjunction with the Sprint Cup Series in November. It's a racetrack that holds a lot of sentimental value to the Tulare, Calif. native and a victory there in this weekend's Lucas Oil 150 would almost be like a win at Daytona.
What do you remember about your first race at Phoenix? "It was in 1997. I don't remember how we finished so it must not have been that good, but I do remember how anxious I was getting to go there. That whole week leading up to that race I could feel the butterflies. At that point the biggest track I'd ever raced a stock car on was a quarter mile. We took the car to Bakersfield to get some test laps in before we went to Phoenix just so I would have a little better feel for the speed involved. This was before they had a committee to review your resume, so really all you had to do was file an entry and go. I remember getting there and I couldn't believe how big the place was compared to everywhere else we'd raced. It really was like racing at Daytona to me then."
Why is Phoenix such a big deal to you? "Well it all goes back to when I was a kid, watching my dad race there. And once I started having the chance to run there, we were always so fast but we just had the worst luck. We started on the pole there a few times and had the fastest car out there. One race we were leading by half a lap and the rear gear went out, and the next race we were there leading by a straightaway and we lost another rear gear. It's always a place I've wanted to win at, so I built my own car to run the last Copper World there. I had three guys in a 15 passenger van and a little box trailer and we went out and won the race. It was great to finally get that win but I really want to get a Truck win there."
What do you and your team have to do to get into Victory Lane this weekend? "We just need to have everything go right. I know we had the truck to win last weekend but something outside of our control took away our chance to win. We qualified on the pole but had to start from the back. We could run with Kyle (Busch) and Johnny (Sauter) but it was like a brick wall of air whenever we got within a couple of lengths of them. I know we'll have a truck just as capable of running up front this weekend, we just need to get track position. That's what cost us last weekend."
Matt at Phoenix: Matt has nine career NCWTS starts at PIR; he has two top-five finishes (third, 2004; fifth, 2006) and six top-ten finishes. His best start was second in 2007. His average start is 10.4 and his average finish is 9.3. He has completed all 1,362 possible competition laps at PIR.
Matt's Phoenix Truck: Matt will be driving ThorSport Racing Chassis No. 43 this weekend at PIR. This chassis was brand new for the Iowa race in July and has also been used at Gateway, ORP, and New Hampshire. It has four top-five finishes in the four races in which it has been used.