Series All-Star sportlight - Matt Crafton

Crafton Returns To Site Of Dramatic Finish For NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Dec. 31, 2008) -- It was the site of one of Matt Crafton's most dramatic stock car races. And it was the site of his only race in the NASCAR...

Crafton Returns To Site Of Dramatic Finish For NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Dec. 31, 2008) -- It was the site of one of Matt Crafton's most dramatic stock car races. And it was the site of his only race in the NASCAR Camping World Series. The location was Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.) and the date was Nov. 11, 2000.

Crafton -- a second-generation driver from Tulare, Calif., who had just wrapped up that year's championship in the former NASCAR Southwest Tour -- was making his debut in the NASCAR Camping World Series West season finale.

After qualifying second among 37 entries, he went on to dominate much of the race -- leading seven times for 194 laps. He was out front when a late-race caution extended the race distance and set up one of the most exciting green-white-checkered finishes in the history of the series. The final lap featured a three-wide battle for the lead, with Bobby Dotter edging Crafton by .024 seconds. The following season, Crafton landed a ride in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series -- where he has since made a home for himself.

Now, more than eight years after that dramatic finish, Crafton is making his return to the NASCAR Camping World Series and to Toyota Speedway at Irwindale -- competing in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown on Jan. 23-24.

"I look forward to going back," Crafton said of returning to Irwindale for what is considered the 'Daytona 500 of short-track racing'. "It will definitely be a lot of fun."

Crafton remained upbeat about the event, despite a troubling test session at Toyota Speedway on Monday.

"We had a very unsuccessful test," he said. "It didn't go nearly as well as we would like to have. Hopefully, we can make a whole lot of changes and bring something better back. It will be a long night, if not."

The NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown will feature two days of exciting action among some of the nation's greatest drivers in NASCAR Camping World Series and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action. The competition will air live on SPEED beginning at 7 p.m. PT both nights.

Along with Crafton, the event will feature fellow West Coast native and three-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. They join a list of top short-track drivers who have already committed to running in the event -- including NASCAR Camping World Series East and West champions, Matt Kobyluck and Eric Holmes, and NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion Scott Steckly.

Also confirmed to compete are 2007 NASCAR Camping World Series West champion Mike David, four drivers who have earned rookie of the year honors in the NASCAR Camping World Series in the last three season (Jason Bowles, Peyton Sellers, Jeff Barkshire, and Austin Dillon), and Brian Ickler, winner of the NASCAR Camping World Series combination race in Iowa this past May.

Champions of each of NASCAR's developmental series earned secured spots in the event. In addition to Holmes, Kobyluck and Steckly, those champions include Philip Morris (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series), Antonio Perez (NASCAR Mexico Series), Ted Christopher (NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour) and Brian Loftin (NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour).

In addition to competition for the NASCAR Camping World Series, which is NASCAR's top developmental series, action in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series will feature a Late Model race and a Super Late Model race.

To purchase tickets for the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, fans can go to www.toyotaspeedwayatirwindale.com or call the track at (626) 358-1100.

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Ron Hornaday Jr. , Bobby Dotter , Matt Crafton , Scott Steckly , Matt Kobyluck , Mike David , Eric Holmes , Peyton Sellers , Ted Christopher , Philip Morris , Jeff Barkshire , Austin Dillon