Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Shasta/Menards Toyota Tundra made his 31st career start at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Alpha Energy Solutions 250. Starting fourth, the Menards driver showed his short track racing prowess through the 250-lap event, finishing third in Stage 1, second in Stage 2 and bringing home a ninth-place finish in the 36th annual event at the .526-mile track.
Battling a Toyota Tundra that was “free-off” early in the 250-lap event, Crafton maintained
a position inside the top-five through Stage 1. Running second, with three laps remaining before the conclusion of Stage 2, a caution flag was displayed, forcing the Stage to conclude under yellow. The No. 88 team opted to stay out, and benefit from the point payout for finishing top-10 in the Stage, while other teams opted to pit early for track position.
Crafton would restart from the 14th position for the 101-lap shootout in the Final Stage. Unfortunately, contact with the 17 truck on the ensuing restart would force the ThorSport Racing driver down pit road at lap 176 to pull out the fenders on the left front of his Menards Tundra and change four tires. Restarting 18th, with 68 laps remaining, Crafton would muscle his way through traffic in the closing laps to cross the stripe in the ninth position behind race winner, Chase Elliott.
“The left-side tires just had zero wear. We were just going so fast at the end of a run, so track position was key. A perfect example – the 4 truck put two tires on that first stop, had the lead for a long time, and ran top-three with two tires. It’s never been like that. If you put two tires on in the past you’d be going backwards in a hurry. All-in-all though, not a terrible day. We just got involved in that wreck on the back straightaway, had to come down pit road and put tires on it, but just needed track position. We survived.”
Laps Led: 0
Driver Points: 3rd
Owner Points: 3rd