Crew Chief: Carl “Junior” Joiner
Engine: Triad Racing Technologies
2016 NCWTS Driver Point Standings: 2nd
2016 NCWTS Owner Point Standings: 2nd
Sounding Off – Matt Crafton:
What are your thoughts on NASCAR’s new race format for the 2017 season?
“I like the idea of the stages, and getting points for each stage, it will be huge. Then you’ve got the segments, and the segment wins that earn bonus points, which ultimately help your chances of getting in the Chase, and then earning bonus points there as well. So, I like the idea a lot and we’ll see how it plays out this season. To be honest, I’m happy this format eliminates the caution clock for the Truck Series because I was not a huge fan. However, I think it will have the biggest impact on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series because their races are so long. With that being said, I think the segment races will bring some great racing to the Cup Series, but I don’t see it making a huge impact with trucks because our races are shorter and we race so hard from green flag to checkered flag. I do think it will make for some exciting races around each segment though, for sure.”
You’ve got a year of racing in the Chase format under your belt. How did that play out for you in 2016 and how can you apply that to this season?
“I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of the Chase format when they announced it last year, but became a huge fan of it when we had our mid-season slump. We would not have been racing for a championship in Homestead if we were racing on the old point system. I would however have loved to have it in 2015 because we would have won the championship based on the Chase. The Chase does make for a lot of excitement there at the end of the season. As a driver there is a lot of pressure in just those last three races – if you have one bad race in that segment of the Chase, you can pretty much write-off the championship. That’s the tough part about it, but it was a lot of fun racing in it last year, and I’m looking forward to racing in it again this season.
News & Notes:
- Chassis Chatter… The No. 88 ThorSport Racing team will unload chassis No. 40 for Friday night’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway (DIS). This is the same chassis Crafton piloted at Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway in 2015, and 2016. In four superspeedway starts, the Menards driver has led 49 laps en route to two top-10 finishes.
- The Down Low on Daytona… Although Crafton has more starts (16), has completed more laps (1507), has the most top-10 finishes (7), and has the most lead lap finishes (9) than any other driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) at DIS, the two-time champion is still looking for his first win at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. In 16 starts since 2001, Crafton has led seven laps en route to one top-five and seven top-10 finishes, with a track-best start of second (2009), and a track-best finish of fifth (2010).
- A Family Affair…In advance of the NextEra Energy Resources 250, Crafton has been racing at Volusia Speedway Park in his No. 88 SealMaster DIRTcar UMP Modified in the DIRTcar Nationals. The two-time NCWTS champion has competed at the half-mile track for other teams in the past, but 2017 marks the first year Crafton has competed under his own entry with the help of his father, Danny Crafton. The duo purchased the chassis in early January and have been working on the No. 88 machine for the past month in Danny’s home garage.
- Eye In The Sky… Monster Energy NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (MENSCS) spotter, Jason Hedlesky will continue spotting for Crafton in 2017.
- 2016 Review… Crafton, who finished second in the NCWTS driver point standings, his 10th consecutive year inside the top-10, earned one pole (Atlanta), two wins, and led 446 laps en route to eight top-five and 16 top-10 finishes.
- Meet-and-Greet… Crafton, will join his fellow ThorSport Racing teammates at Toyota Pit Pass at 1:30pm ET on Friday, Feb. 24 and participate in the NCWTS autograph session in the FanZone at DIS from 3-3:45pm ET.
Crafton’s Daytona International Speedway Stats:
- 16 starts since 2001
- Wins: 0
- Top-Five Finishes: 1
- Top-10 Finishes: 7
- 1507 of 1624 laps completed (92.8%)
- Laps Led: 7
- Best start: 2nd (2009)
- Best finish: 5th (2010)
- Average start: 17.4
- Average finish: 14.8
Crafton’s Career Truck Series Stats:
- 384 starts since 2000
- 13 wins
- 97 top-five finishes
- 226 top-10 finishes
- 12 poles
- 59,300 laps completed
- 2135 laps led
- Average start: 12.7
- Average finish: 11.5
Date: Friday, Feb. 24
Time: 7:30pm ET
Track: 2.5-mile superspeedway
Distance: 100 laps/250 miles