Sandusky, Oh. (November 15, 2010) -- Entering the final race of the 2010 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season at Homestead, Matt Crafton looks back with mixed emotions. Of course he's proud of the No. 88 Menards/SealBest Chevrolet team's ...
Sandusky, Oh. (November 15, 2010) -- Entering the final race of the 2010 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season at Homestead, Matt Crafton looks back with mixed emotions. Of course he's proud of the No. 88 Menards/SealBest Chevrolet team's accomplishments -- one pole, ten top-five finishes and 19 top-ten finishes in the 24 races to this point which has left him fourth in the championship standings -- but he also looks back at missed opportunities. A rough stretch early in the season, including wrecks at Atlanta, Kansas, and Texas, and a blown engine at Michigan, left Crafton tenth in the standings but more importantly left he and his ThorSport Racing teammates mystified. But a well-time four-week break in the schedule following the Michigan race allowed the team to rebuild and regroup, and they haven't finished outside the top-ten since. Crafton carries a season-best 15-race top-ten streak into the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway and just by starting the race he's assured of a stage appearance at the NCWTS Awards Banquet at the Loew's Miami Beach Hotel on Monday night.
Do you look back on the first eight races of the season and think what might have been or has it been easy to get that out of your mind over the final two-thirds of the season? "I have thought about it quite a bit. We had four races where we were down in the 20s at the finish. If we could have had three of those back and finished where we think we should have, we'd be right there with (Todd) Bodine. It's hard to accept some of that but that's racing. We had really good luck for a few years now and we just hit a rough patch. We were able to overcome it and we've been really solid the rest of the season. But we're looking forward, not backwards. We don't let what happened in the past distract us from what we're here to do."
By taking the green flag you assure yourself of a top five position in the championship for the third consecutive year; how do you feel about that accomplishment personally and as a team? "It's a huge accomplishment, both for me and for my guys. But we all had much higher expectations for this season than just finishing in the top five. I think a lot of people down in the Carolinas overlook our team because we aren't down there and they can't see what we're doing. Most of my guys have been up in Ohio working in the Truck Series ever since it started and they've always been on a competitive team but never really considered to be a real threat. So it's a huge deal for them to be contending for wins and contending for championships, and getting three straight top five finishes in the points is as big a deal to me for them as it is for me myself."
ThorSport Racing has placed both of its trucks in the top five in six races this season, including the last three; how difficult is it on you and your team to run that well and not have a victory yet? "I think it's incredible that we've had three races in a row that we've both been in the top five. It was really frustrating at Texas because I knew we had a truck to win that race, but when we left there I knew we still had Phoenix yet to come. I really thought we had their number at Phoenix. We led both practices and I really thought we were going to get the pole and win the race to sweep the weekend. It's tough to let them slip away like that, but we are still up in the top five, having good finishes and being competitive. It's not quite a win but we're always happy to get out with a top five."
What do you and your team have to do to win at Homestead? "I wish I knew because then we wouldn't have to worry about it! Actually, I feel really good about it. We were second down there last year and we're going to go with the same setup that we used then. I love Homestead because you can run down on the white line or six inches from the wall. You might be up on the wall in one and two and then down on the line through three and four. It's an awesome racetrack and I know we'll have a really good truck I just can't wait to get there and get the season closed on the right note and head into the off season with a lot of really good momentum."
Matt's Homestead truck: Matt will drive ThorSport Racing Chassis No. 35 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This truck was new this season. Its first race was at Kentucky Speedway where Crafton qualified tenth and finished tenth. He also drove it at Las Vegas Motor Speedway where he qualified third and finished fifth.