Phoenix: Matt Crafton preview

Matt Crafton Back on Track and Ready for Phoenix Huntersville, N.C. (Nov. 1, 2004) - Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Silverado, hopes his sixth place finish in Martinsville, Va. two weekends ago is a sign of things to...

Matt Crafton
Back on Track and Ready for Phoenix

Huntersville, N.C. (Nov. 1, 2004) - Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 6 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Silverado, hopes his sixth place finish in Martinsville, Va. two weekends ago is a sign of things to come with three races remaining in the 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) season. After ending a streak of five races that was anything but enjoyable, Crafton is more than ready for Friday's Chevrolet Silverado 150 presented by Valley Chevy Dealers at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway.

"It felt so good to get back running towards the front at Martinsville," says Crafton. "After the five unfortunate races we had in a row I didn't know if our luck was ever going to change. Hopefully we can carry this little bit of momentum into Friday's race and if we can put it all together in the pits then a win is definitely in the picture. My crew has been on top of their game lately with great pit stops, but we came across a bad one in Martinsville that took our shot at winning away. If we are all on the same page this weekend then we will be up front fighting for the lead."

Crafton heads to the 1.0 mile-oval with one top-10 and two top-15 finishes in the NCTS and has visited the track numerous times in other series where he has experienced superb on track performance. The Tulare, Calif., native hopes his experience in Phoenix is what it takes to get the GM Goodwrench Chevy to the front to bring home his first win.

"I love the place," explains Crafton. "I sat on the pole there a few different times with other series and I have led numerous laps there in Southwest Tour cars, but never in the trucks. I plan on doing that this weekend. With three races to go I am more determined than ever to get to victory lane for KHI and GM Goodwrench. I would love to give everyone with KHI and GM Goodwrench a win before we part ways at the end of the season."

No. 6 GM Goodwrench driver Matt Crafton on Phoenix International Raceway...

What are the characteristics of the track?

"Phoenix changed a little bit last year. They moved the wall back off the exit of turn two and enclosed the racetrack. That created a lot more room and allowed for more side-by-side racing. It's a unique racetrack with turns one and two really tight and three and four really sweeping. It's kind of a compromise in the handling package, but a lot of fun for me to race on just because I've raced there a lot."

On racing the flatter short tracks...

"I really love the flat short tracks because I think it brings the best out in a driver. You really have to be up on the wheel and the driver has a lot more say in getting the proper set-up. It also allows for some great door-to-door, beating-and-banging style racing."

No. 6 GM Goodwrench crew chief Wally Rogers on Phoenix International Raceway...

What makes Phoenix so unique?

"It is similar to the shorter flatter tracks that we have run on this year, but what makes Phoenix so unique are the three distinct turns it has. You have to get the truck to rotate through the center very well to be able to pick up speed coming off. Getting the truck to turn all day long is key. We have had some pretty good success this year on these one-mile flat tracks and if we can qualify well enough, I don't see any reason why we do not have a chance to win the race this weekend."

Points of Interest...

* Runnin' It...Team GM Goodwrench will take chassis No. 007 to Phoenix International Raceway for this weekend's 150-mile race. This chassis was brand new when it was run at Richmond International Raceway in September bringing home a 21st place finish. It also was run at New Hampshire International Speedway and brought home a 13th place 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 three races ago.

* 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 as well.

* 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 12.9 and his average finishes have jumped from 16.3 to 11.5.

* 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 ten of his 14 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's Chevy Silverado 150 is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 150-lap event on SPEED starts at 5:30 p.m. EDT, with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 5:15 p.m. EDT. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.

-gmg-

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