Fontana: Matt Crafton preview

Matt Crafton The California Connection Huntersville, N.C. (September 28, 2004) - The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) heads towards (Fontana) California Speedway this weekend for the running of the American Racing Wheels 200 on Saturday, ...

Matt Crafton
The California Connection

Huntersville, N.C. (September 28, 2004) - The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) heads towards (Fontana) California Speedway this weekend for the running of the American Racing Wheels 200 on Saturday, October 2, 2004, and Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Silverado, couldn't be happier. Born and raised in Tulare, Calif., Crafton hopes to turn his recent string of bad luck around in front of a hometown crowd.

"Racing in front of a home crowd definitely brings more excitement and intensity to the weekend," explains Crafton. "I am going to have friends and family there so I am really looking forward to it. You always want to run well every weekend. But when you are back in your home state with the eyes of family and friends on you that you haven't seen for awhile, it makes you eager to show them what you have done within the sport and how well you have been running."

Crafton is the only driver in the top-five in points without a win this season, so a win on Saturday is the only thing on his and the rest of his No. 6 GM Goodwrench racing teams minds. The 28-year old looks to get the recent bad-luck monkey off his back and continue to close in on Kevin Harvick, Inc.'s first NCTS championship.

"Hopefully, I can end the bad luck that has recently come upon us," adds Crafton. "I want to go out there and put on a good show for all my family and friends as well as everyone that supports me from GM Goodwrench."

No. 6 GM Goodwrench driver Matt Crafton on California Speedway...

On racing at California Speedway...

"I have raced at California Speedway four times with the first being in 2000. It was the last race of the season and the driver for the team I ended up filling in for split ways. It was my very first truck race and I finished ninth, so that was a big accomplishment. The track has gotten better and better as the years have gone on. You can race on it more and you don't have to worry about having to run on the bottom. The track has three or four grooves in it so you can race all over the place. I can't wait to run under the lights again. Racing at night always adds to the excitement."

On truck set-up at California Speedway...

"You want your truck set-up as neutral as you can possibly get it at California. You don't want it to be on the tight side, but then you don't want to be too free either. We learned that at Michigan earlier this year. California and Michigan are similar tracks and when we went to Michigan we were more on the tight side and that wasn't good. We were actually too free to start the race, but were able to run in the top-five and top-10 for the middle part of the race. Then we over adjusted it and had it too tight during the last third of the race and couldn't go anywhere. You definitely want to have a happy medium between loose and tight to run well at a place like California."

On a disappointing 22nd place finish last weekend at LVMS... "I thought the motor laid down on us, but after further investigation, we found out the problem was the throttle getting backed up. My truck began to get tight toward the end of our second set of tires and it stayed tight on our third set as well. I thought we had a couple bad sets of tires that caused us to fall off so much, but that was not the case. I hate it for my guys because they worked hard to give me such an awesome truck and they were awesome in the pits too. It is just very unfortunate that we overlooked the mechanical problem because we had a truck very capable of winning last weekend. Despite the mechanical problems we are going to take this same truck to California this weekend and it is going to be right."

No. 6 GM Goodwrench crew chief Wally Rogers on California Speedway...

Describe the characteristics of the track...

"It is a big horse-power track, but you still have to be able to handle through the corners. I really like the track. I have always run well there and have had good finishes. It is really going to take a good effort on all our parts to get to victory lane this weekend. Last weekend was a wake-up call for just how good we really can be and we know it now. To go out there and do it again in California is definitely within reason."

What is the mindset coming off another disappointing finish last weekend at LVMS?

"It's nobody's fault but our own. I feel it cost us the race and we are really going to have to dig in deep and pretty much try to win every race the rest of the year to give ourselves a shot at winning the championship. I know we are capable of doing it. Everybody doesn't need to get down on themselves. We just have to realize what we did wrong and all we can do is learn from it and make sure it doesn't happen again."

Points of Interest...

* Runnin' It...Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No.008 to California Speedway for this weekend's 200-mile race. This chassis was run at Nashville Superspeedway in August and last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It brought home a seventh place finish in Nashville, Tenn., and a 22nd place finish in Las Vegas, Nev.

* Track Stat... The Tulare, Calif., native's four attempts at the two-mile oval include two top-10 finishes and two top-20 finishes. Crafton's first career truck series race took place at California Speedway in 2000 and he finished ninth.

* Las Vegas Mistake...What was originally thought to be motor failure on the GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Silverado last Saturday turned out to be mechanical failure after further inspection. The throttle stop that goes to the firewall locked tight causing a nut to become loose and back itself off. The No. 6 truck had only 75% throttle the rest of the race and that killed about 40 horsepower.

* 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 three races ago.

* Sights are set...Crafton's series leading 13 top-10 finishes in 2004 surpass his total top-10 finishes in 2003 and with seven races to go, his sights are set on knocking down his top-five finishes and capture his first 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 12.7 and his average finishes have jumped from 16.3 to 10.6.

* Birds eye view...Veteran NASCAR driver Rick Carelli has been in the spotter stand since Texas in June and has helped steer Crafton to three of his four top-five finishes and nine of his 13 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 Saturday's American Racing Wheels 200 is scheduled for 10:00 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 100-lap event on SPEED starts at 10:00 p.m. EDT, with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 8:30 p.m. EDT. 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 , Matt Crafton , Rick Carelli
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing