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Aug 13, 2014 - 07:00 AM
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2014 Michigan: Matt Crafton NASCAR Truck Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on Aug 13, 2014 - 06:53 AM
2014 Michigan: Matt Crafton NASCAR Truck Race Preview

As the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) heads into the second half of the 2014 season, Matt Crafton finds himself in the thick of the championship battle for the second consecutive year and has the opportunity to turn the tide at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) in Brooklyn in Saturday afternoon's Careers for Veterans 200. While Crafton has enjoyed limited success at NASCAR's fastest speedway, the Mullican Flooring/Menards team's performance in 2014 has the defending NCWTS champion primed for his best career MIS outing. Outright speed has the team optimistic heading to the two-mile oval and the team's ability to capitalize on fuel mileage races, exhibited by their win at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth earlier this year, puts Crafton at an advantage in Michigan, famous for its fuel mileage finishes.


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In the season's first 11 races, Crafton has shown great speed at all types of venues on the NCWTS schedule, especially the intermediate tracks, which included his second win of the season at Texas in June. Crafton has scored five top-five and seven top-10 finishes thus far and has earned his first multiple-win season of his 14-year NCWTS career. Combined with strong performances, the ThorSport Racing team has proved they are capable of knocking down solid finishes and overcoming adversity. The No. 88 team has showed their resilience by fighting through incidents at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and Gateway Motorsports Park in Maddison, Ill. to remain a force in the championship fight by leading the standings on four occasions and currently sit third in the 2014 NCWTS driver point standings entering MIS.

With three top-10 finishes in the last four races and two runner-up finishes on high-speed downforce tracks at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City and Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, the Carl Joiner-led No. 88 team is poised to have Crafton in contention for his first Michigan win and seize control of the championship standings for the fifth time this season. As evidenced by leading 223 laps, second most among NCWTS regulars, Crafton's performance has him determined to rewrite his Michigan history.

Sounding off - Matt Crafton:
"Our intermediate program has been so good this year and the guys on the Mullican Flooring/Menards team have brought fast Toyota Tundras to the track each week. Historically Michigan hasn't been our best track, but with the way we've run this year, winning at Texas, we can definitely turn that around this week. These guys work so hard preparing great Toyotas and we've had speed everywhere this year, but we'll need the right strategy on pit road and track position near the end to get a win this weekend."

Crafton's Michigan Stats:
• 12 starts
• 1082 of 1204 laps completed (89.9%)
• 23 laps led
• Two top-five finishes
• Three top-10 finishes
• One pole (2011)
• Best finish: 4th (2009)
• Avg. start: 11.8
• Avg. finish: 17.2
• According to NASCAR's Loop Data Statistics, Crafton ranks:
o Second in Laps in the Top 15 (630)
o Third in Fastest Laps Run (20)
o Fourth in Laps Led (22)
o 10th in Driver Rating (89.1)
o 13th in Average Running Position (11.838)

Matt Crafton 2014:
• After 14th-place finish in the Pocono Mountains 150 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, Crafton falls to third in the NCWTS driver point standings, 10 points behind leader Ryan Blaney
• Has been victorious twice - Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth
• The first season in 14 years in the NCWTS that the ThorSport Racing driver has won multiple races in one season
• Has posted five top-five and seven top-10 finishes
• Has led 223 laps
• Recorded a season-best second-place start three times; Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Dover (Del.) International Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth
• Has completed 1667 of 1748 laps attempted (95.4%)
• According to NASCAR's Loop Data Statistics, Crafton ranks:
o First in Laps in the Top-15: 1612
o Second in Average Running Position: 7.286
o Third in Driver Rating: 102.7
o Third in Laps Led: 223
o Fourth in Fastest Laps Run:120

Crafton's Career Truck Series Stats:
• 327 starts since 2000
• Five wins
• 68 top-five finishes
• 182 top-10 finishes
• Seven poles
• 51,161 laps completed
• 843 laps led
• Average start: 13.5
• Average finish: 12.0

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