AVONDALE, Ariz. (Nov. 3, 2000) Matt Crafton took a roundabout route to the championship in the Featherlite Southwest Series, NASCAR Touring ranks. Crafton went into Friday's season finale, the Albertson's/Osco 125 at Phoenix International...
AVONDALE, Ariz. (Nov. 3, 2000) Matt Crafton took a roundabout route to the championship in the Featherlite Southwest Series, NASCAR Touring ranks.
Crafton went into Friday's season finale, the Albertson's/Osco 125 at Phoenix International Raceway, with a 113-point lead over Auggie Vidovich Jr. in the driver standings. After Vidovich got caught up in a first-lap melee that involved at least seven cars, prompted a red flag and effectively eliminated him from title contention, pole-sitter Crafton dominated the first half of the race, apparently setting him up to claim the championship in winning fashion.
But he was sidelined with rear end problems while leading just past the halfway point, relegating him to a 24th-place finish and putting him in the position of winning a series championship while standing around in the garage area, waiting to see if his car could be repaired.
"We wanted to win it on a winning note," Crafton said.
Crafton, who needed to finish 31st or better to win the title, no matter what Vidovich did, wound up claiming the championship by 134 points.
"I'm overwhelmed right now," said Crafton, 24, of Tulare, Calif. "It hasn't hit me yet. But I'll probably be able to sleep by tomorrow night. But probably not tonight."
Vidovich finished 33rd in the 42-car field.
"We didn't want to see Augie get into that wreck. We wanted to race all the way down to the end," Crafton said. "I'm not sure how we stayed out of it. I kind of just shut my eyes."
Garrett Evans of Ardenvoir, Wash., won the race, which was shortened from its planned 125 laps to 100 because of pending darkness. It was the second triumph for Evans in the series.
Rounding out the top-5 finishers were Greg Pursley, Scott Hansen, Doug McCoun and Kevin Hamlin. -nascar.com-