Nashville: Matt Crafton preview

Rogers Hopes to Help Crafton Navigate Nashville HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (August 10, 2004) -The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) heads to Lebanon, Tenn., for the 15th stop on 25-race schedule at Nashville Superspeedway for the running of the...

Rogers Hopes to Help Crafton Navigate Nashville

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (August 10, 2004) -The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) heads to Lebanon, Tenn., for the 15th stop on 25-race schedule at Nashville Superspeedway for the running of the Tundra 200 on Saturday, August 14th. Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet, heads towards the 1.333-mile concrete oval with his series leading 11 top-10 finishes but doesn't have a good track record to show for in Nashville. Crew chief Wally Rogers on the other hand, hopes he can translate his NASCAR Busch Series success at Nashville to Crafton and help bring home Kevin Harvick, Inc.'s (KHI) first NCTS win.

"I am not a big fan of Nashville," explains Crafton. "I don't like concrete surfaces, especially there, because it has always been a hard place to pass in my three previous visits. But I am driving for Kevin Harvick, Inc., and GM Goodwrench now, and as solid as we have been running, I know Wally (Rogers) and these guys will have a lot better set-up for me than I have had in the past."

In his first three attempts, the Tulare, Calif., native has finishes of 25th, 18th, and 10th respectively and hopes Rogers can turn his previous Truck Series bad luck at Nashville around. As crew chief for Randy Lajoie, Rogers sat atop the pit box calling the shots for Lajoie in the Busch Series from 2001-2003, grabbing one pole, two top-5, and three top-10 finishes in five tries at the 1.333-mile superspeedway.

"I really think Matt doesn't like Nashville because of the equipment he was in the last three years," comments Rogers. "In my experience through the Busch Series, the concrete surface allows for some really good side-by-side racing. Once he takes to the track in our brand new GM Goodwrench Chevy, I think he will find that passing is going to come a lot easier than in the past, which may even change his mind about the place."

The combination of Crafton and Rogers could be just what Team GM Goodwrench needs to turn Nashville into one of Crafton's favorites and bring home their first win this weekend.

Points of Interest...

* Runnin' It...Team GM Goodwrench will take their chassis No. 008 to Nashville Superspeedway for this weekend's 200-mile race. This chassis is brand new and has only seen wind tunnel time.

* 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 his career-best finish of fourth came at Kentucky Speedway earlier this month.

* Sights are set...Crafton's 11 top-10 finishes in 2004, tie his total top-10 finishes in 2003. He has his sights set to surpass that mark and capture his first win with 11 races to go.

* 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 12.3 and his average finishes have improved from 16.3 to 9.7.

* Birds eye view...Veteran NASCAR driver Rick Carelli has been in the spotter stand since Texas in June and has helped steer Crafton to two of his three top-five finishes and seven of his 11 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 Tundra 200 is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 150-lap event on SPEED starts at 5:00 p.m. EDT, with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 4:30 p.m. EDT. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.

No. 6 GM Goodwrench driver Matt Crafton on Nashville Superspeedway...

Why don't you like the concrete surface at Nashville compared to the other concrete surfaces?

"Concrete surfaces typically end up being a single-groove racetrack. Bristol and Dover are two concrete racetracks that aren't that bad because they have enough banking and the surface is older. At Bristol you get to do a little routing and gouging which makes it fun and at Dover I think the surface is old enough which allows for a little two-wide racing, but Nashville for me is a horrible racetrack. It is probably one of the worst races you will see all year because of the single-groove. You can run on the bottom, but it is almost impossible to pass at Nashville."

What have your three previous years been like?

"My rookie year I blew up, the second year we just couldn't find our set-up and just ran horribly, and last year we got it a little bit better but we still weren't that good. I qualified 12th and finished 10th. I have always said they have a nice facility at Nashville Superspeedway, but they have one heck of a short-track across town where the trucks actually used to race."

Do you have somewhat of a mental block when it comes to disliking a track as much as you dislike this one?

"No, I am going to go there with a positive mind. We just never really hit a good set-up the last three years. Last year, we were close, but finished 10th. I thought we could have finished a little better. I am not totally against Nashville Superspeedway, but it just isn't that good of a racing racetrack. That's my biggest thing as to why I don't like it. Track position is critical at all racetracks, but it is really key at Nashville. Our guys in the pits are going to have some great stops and I am going to have to do a good job qualifying to get our truck up front."

No. 6 GM Goodwrench crew chief Wally Rogers on Nashville Superspeedway...

What kind of racing does a concrete surface allow compared to an asphalt surface?

"Concrete isn't affected by the weather as much as asphalt is. It has more grip than asphalt does and I think it allows for more side-by-side racing. Nashville to me is the coolest track we get to race at because you can race it like a short-track but it is also big and fast, which makes for a happy medium."

How important would a win be this weekend?

"I'd like to win every week, but this one for me is one I would like to win more than anything. I have had a lot of success there but I have also had my heart broken there as well. I want to get a guitar so bad I can't stand it."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Kevin Harvick , Randy Lajoie , Matt Crafton , Rick Carelli
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing