2018 Gateway Race Preview

Team Info/Stats:

Crew Chief: Carl “Junior” Joiner, Jr.
Driver Point Standings: 6th
Owner Point Standings: 8th
Spotter: Steven Simmons

News and Notes:

  • This Week’s No. 88 IDEAL Door / Menards Ford F-150… The No. 88 ThorSport Racing team will unload chassis No. 58 for Saturday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Eaton 200 presented by CK Power at Gateway Motorsports Park. This chassis was last seen at Martinsville Speedway, earlier this season. This particular chassis also won the pole at Michigan International Speedway, and scored five top-10 finishes, in five starts in 2017.
  • Testing, One, Two, Three, Testing… The No. 88 Menards team was one of three NCWTS teams to test on the new pavement at Gateway earlier this season.
  • There’s More Than Meets the Arch… Some would say that Gateway owes Crafton a king-sized parking spot in victory lane. Despite three consecutive years of bad luck (2014-2016) at the egg-shaped oval, the ThorSport Racing driver has led 76 laps en route to two top-five and eight top-10 finishes. Furthermore, the Menards driver finished fourth at Gateway in 2017, his second top-five finish in 14 starts.
  • The St. Louis Curse… In the 2014 edition of the Gateway 200 presented by CK Power, the two-time NCWTS champion led 11 laps but blew a right-front tire while leading, crashed and finished 26th. In 2015 and 2016, Crafton’s No. 88 Menards truck was dominant, but cursed. Crafton led 49 of 160 laps in 2015, but was bumped by another driver on a late-race restart, and was forced to pit to repair damage, finishing 21st. In 2016, Crafton again was victimized by a late-race restart. This time, two trucks crashed in front of him while the field was racing threewide, and the two-time champion was collected in the melee.
  • Take me back – Gateway 2017… The Menards driver started sixth and led 16 laps, but a late-race pit strategy call left Crafton with a fourth-place finish. His second top-five finish at the St. Louis track.
  • Race Rewind – Iowa… Crafton started a track-best second, and led 20 laps, but an incident in the final stage, at lap 135 of 200, would relegate the ThorSport Racing driver to a 26th-place finish.
  • 2018 Stats… In nine starts this season, Crafton has led 35 laps en route to three top-five, and four top-10 finishes. The Menards driver has a season-best start of second (Atlanta & Martinsville), and a season-best finish of second (Dover).
  • Veteran-Size Stats… Crafton holds the record for consecutive starts (416) in the NCWTS. Among his success in the past 17 seasons, the two-time champion has earned 13 poles, and led 2,491 laps en route to 14 wins, 105 top-five and 246 top-10 finishes.
  • Catch Crafton at Gateway… Crafton will join fellow ThorSport Racing teammates, and other NCWTS drivers, for a series autograph session, Saturday, June 23, from 3 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. CT, located under the grandstands, behind the start/finish line, at Gateway.
  • About IDEAL Door… IDEAL Door is a leader in residential and commercial garage doors, and is a preferred brand among consumers, architects, specifiers and building professionals. For more information on Ideal Door, visit: www.IdealDoorGarageDoors.com.

Chatting with Matt Crafton…

“I love going to Gateway. Gateway reminds me of the old Phoenix — the corners are very different. The corners of 1 and 2 are definitely a little tighter than the old Phoenix, but it has banking, and it’s a tighter corner. Turns 3 and 4 are a lot flatter, and you never can have a truck that’s going to handle perfectly at both ends, so it’s one of those deals where you have to figure out which end you want to be the best at. Unfortunately, we’ve had our fair share of bad luck at Gateway – it’s been my ‘Achilles’ heel.’ We had a solid run there last year and finished fourth, so hopefully we learned a few things during the test in April that will finally allow us to have that competitive edge.”