Crafton will take his skills off road

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Crafton will take his skills off road
Lee Spencer
By: Lee Spencer
Apr 14, 2015, 11:10 PM

NASCAR truck champ to support Chris Kyle Memorial Benefit in TORC.

Championship victory lane: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2014 champion Matt Crafton celebrates
Matt Crafton, ThorSport Racing Toyota takes the win
Race winner Matt Crafton, ThorSport Racing Toyota celebrates
Matt Crafton, ThorSport Racing Toyota
Championship victory lane: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2014 champion Matt Crafton celebrates
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2014 champion Matt Crafton celebrates
Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski Racing Ford, Matt Crafton, ThorSport Racing Toyota
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion driver Matt Crafton with his daughter
Matt Crafton
Matt Crafton
Travis Pastrana
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2014 champion Matt Crafton celebrates with race winner Darrell Wallace Jr. and Kyle Busch
Championship victory lane: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2014 champion Matt Crafton celebrates
Tyler Reddick, Brad Keselowski Racing Ford, Matt Crafton, ThorSport Racing Toyota, Daniel Suarez, Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota
Matt Crafton
Matt Crafton

Two-time champion and current Camping World Truck point leader Matt Crafton is not sitting idle waiting for the tour to return to action next month at Kansas Speedway.

Crafton will carry the Chris Kyle Memorial Benefit livery in the TORC: The Off-Road Championship presented by AMSOIL season opener at Texas Motor Speedway April 24-25.

The Guardian For Heroes Foundation is working with TORC to promote the Second Annual Chris Kyle Memorial Benefit & Auction the following weekend in Fort Worth. The late Navy SEAL founded established The Guardian For Heroes Foundation to provide life coaching to veterans with disabilities and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders.

Crafton, who will drive a 900-horsepower Pro 4WD truck, told Motorsport.com he’s “honored” to support the cause.

I’m so excited about the opportunity to be totally honest. It’s unreal.

Matt Crafton

“It really means a lot to be able to do this,” Crafton said. “And the reason behind doing this – especially for Chris Kyle, the American Sniper, as a tribute to him. It was truly an honor to be called.

“I’m so excited about the opportunity to be totally honest. It’s unreal. It’s an unbelievable movie. You sit there when the movie ends and you’re just in awe. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. At the end it’s just…‘wow’. It was deep, for sure.”

Chris’ father, Wayne Kyle, will serve as the Grand Marshall for the “Roundup in Texas” at TMS. There will also be a Chris Kyle Memorial Benefit information booth at the track where fans can show their support.

“It’s an honor for the Kyle Family—Deby and myself, our son Jeff, and daughter-in-law Amy—to partner with TORC to carry on Chris’s legacy and be true to his motto ‘It’s our duty to serve those who serve us’,” said Wayne Kyle.

Keep on Truckin’

Crafton’s first experience in TORC came at the urging of Travis Pastrana three years ago. In his TORC debut in the PRO 2WD division at Chicagoland Speedway, Crafton finished third.

Crafton said racing on the TORC tour was “a bucket list deal”.

If it has a motor, four tires and a steering wheel, I’m all about racing it. I’ll drive anything.

Matt Crafton

“When Travis got me in one of these trucks a few years ago, I was smiling from ear-to-ear,” Crafton said.
“I never stopped smiling the whole time I was in that truck. I turned it over, but I ran really well when I did.

“If it has a motor, four tires and a steering wheel, I’m all about racing it. I’ll drive anything. Something like this? I love racing off road. In the winter, I have an off-road buggy that I go out and race – just play around in Southern California. Now that I actually get to race in a race with other people, it’s a blast.”

Crafton’s day job

On the NASCAR truck tour, Crafton has picked up where he left off – “if not better” – in the No. 88 Menard’s Toyota for ThorSport Racing.

The 15-year veteran of the NCWTS credits his crew chief Carl “Junior” Joiner and the team for their attention to detail and always being prepared when they arrive at the track.

“I think we’re ahead of where we were last year,” Crafton said. “We’ll see. We still have a long ways to go. With this sport, you can be up at the top one week, two weeks, a month and the next thing you know somebody has passed you because you were sitting still and got complacent.

“I have one of the best crew chiefs in the garage. I know that because he never sits still. That’s why we are where we are because this winter, he didn’t rest on our laurels. He went to work to improve the trucks and make them better.”

In the first three races, Crafton’s average finish is an incredible 3.7. He won and he’s led 186 of 488 laps raced. He currently holds a two point lead over second-place Tyler Reddick, who won at Daytona, and a six-point advantage over Erik Jones.

“It’s gone really good,” Crafton said. “Daytona is Daytona. You never know what you’re going to get there. But Atlanta was a home run. Martinsville, was two laps from being a home run, (laughs) until I spun (Cole Custer) out and brought out the caution.

“We’ve had the fastest truck every week and I ran fast at Daytona so I can’t complain. My guys are bringing awesome stuff to the race track.”

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