Darlington: Matt Grafton preview

Matt Crafton With Two Races to Go, Down But Not Out Huntersville, N.C. (Nov. 9, 2004) - With two races to go in the 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) season, Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Silverado, may be...

Matt Crafton
With Two Races to Go, Down But Not Out

Huntersville, N.C. (Nov. 9, 2004) - With two races to go in the 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) season, Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Silverado, may be down in the championship standings but he is definitely not out. As the NCTS heads to Darlington (S.C.) Raceway this Friday night for the Darlington 200, Crafton sits fifth in points, 257 markers out of first and is still mathematically in a position to be crowned this year's NCTS champion.

"We are definitely carrying the mentality that we are not out of it," says Crafton. "This GM Goodwrench team has had that never-give-up-attitude all year long and I think it shows especially since we have rebounded from that string of five extremely bad races with a sixth place finish in Martinsville, Va., two races ago and tying my career best finish of third last weekend at Phoenix. Hopefully, we can carry this little bit of momentum with two races to go and if any of the top-4 driver's luck turns on them as bad as our luck turned on us, then we have a shot. It's a long shot at this point, but it's a shot."

Crafton heads to the unique egg-shaped oval nicknamed the track "Too Tough To Tame" with one top-10 and two top-15 finishes and knows what an honor it would be to win at the toughest and most sought after track on the circuit.

"Every driver who has strapped on a helmet and climbed behind the steering wheel of a racecar has wanted to win at Darlington because the toughest is most desirable," says Crafton. "We have obtained every goal this year that we set out for except one and it's that elusive win that keeps slipping away from us. It would be an honor to add my name to the list of drivers who have been able to conquer the track "Too Tough To Tame."

No. 6 GM Goodwrench driver Matt Crafton on Darlington Raceway...

How tough is that racetrack?

"It is definitely a tough track. At least I have a boss that has a lot of laps there and I hope to be able to lean on him quite a bit. I am hoping Kevin will be able to give me some insight to help me get around that place. Right now I think Kyle Petty has said before it would be a good place to fill-up to make a fishing pond out of it, and that's kind of the way I feel about it. I'm sure once you learn how to get around it pretty good it will be fun. I finished eighth in 2001, but I still wasn't real happy with it."

What are the characteristics of the track?

"It's a very narrow, fast racetrack that has a lot of history and is very prestigious to win. Keeping the truck off the wall is key when you go to Darlington. If you can keep the right side of the truck in tact for the whole day, you'll have a good day. It eats the tires really bad, too."

On tying his career best finish last weekend in Phoenix...

"After Bristol things went down hill from there. For awhile, I thought we were never going to have a finish this good again but, this GM Goodwrench team continues to work hard every week and I can't thank them enough. We had a great run last weekend and I owe a lot to my crew. They gave me great stops all day. We just missed it a little bit on the track, which ultimately hurt our chances for a win. It has been nice to overcome that streak of five races that resulted in some very disappointing finishes. I hope we can continue to finish out the year on a high note before I part ways with KHI and GM Goodwrench."

No. 6 GM Goodwrench crew chief Wally Rogers on Darlington Raceway...

What makes Darlington so difficult?

"It's a very narrow, but fast racetrack. In a way you are racing the track instead of the other trucks. It's fairly single-grooved due to the safer barriers that have been installed, so passing is somewhat difficult. Pit-stops are going to be key in gaining track position and gambling on pit-strategy may come into play. If you can keep the right side on your truck, then you should be in good shape."

Points of Interest...

* Runnin' It...Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 004 to Darlington Raceway for this weekend's 200-mile race. This chassis has been a favorite and has brought home three top-5 finishes, four top-10 finishes and one top-15 finish.

* 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 again in August at Nashville Superspeedway. His career-best finish of third came at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in August and he just tied that finish last weekend at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway.

* Did you know...Crafton is the only driver in the top-five in points without a win this season and is one of two drivers in the top-10 in points without a win.

* 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 12.8 and his average finishes have jumped from 16.3 to 11.1.

* Birds eye view...Veteran NASCAR driver Rick Carelli has been in the spotter stand since Texas in June and has helped steer Crafton to four of his five top-five finishes and 11 of his 15 top-10 finishes.

* All in the family...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 Friday night's Darlington 200 is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. EST. TV coverage of the 147-lap event on SPEED starts at 8:00 p.m. EST, with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 7:30 p.m. EST. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.


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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Kyle Petty , Matt Crafton , Rick Carelli
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing