June 11, 1976 |
Tulare, California, United States
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|Weight||160 lb (73 kg)|
|Achievements||2000 NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour Champion|
|NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career|
|299 race(s) run over 14 year(s)|
|Truck no., team||No. 88 (ThorSport Racing)|
|Best finish||2nd - 2009|
|First race||2000 Motorola 200 (California)|
|Last race||2013 North Carolina Education Lottery 200 (Charlotte)|
|First win||2008 North Carolina Education Lottery 200 (Charlotte)|
|Last win||2013 SFP 250 (Kansas)|
|Statistics current as of May 17, 2013.|
Matthew "Matt" Crafton (born June 11, 1976 in Tulare, California) is an American race car driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He currently drives the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra for ThorSport Racing.
Early career 
Before turning to NASCAR racing in 2000, Crafton raced go-karts, midgets, and mini sprints. Crafton began his go-kart career at the age of seven after receiving a kart as a present for graduating from kindergarten. He won multiple national and regional championships before moving to midgets at the age of 15, winning twenty main events.
He joined the Featherlite Southwest Series as a substitute for his injured father, Danny Crafton, in 1996, filling in as driver of the No. 46 entry for the final three races of the season. Crafton took over the No. 46 full-time in 1997. His career went national when he became involved in the 1998 Winter Heat Series shown on ESPN at Tucson Raceway Park, during which he raced against other current NASCAR drivers Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, and Ron Hornaday.
After four full-time seasons in the Featherlite Southwest Series, Crafton won the championship in 2000 on the strength of four wins that year. His success in the Featherlite Southwest Series that season led to the invitation to make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut for ThorSport Racing.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 
Crafton made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut in 2000 at the season finale at California Speedway. Driving the PickupTruck.com Chevy for ThorSport Racing, he qualified 17th and finished ninth. In 2001, he piloted the No. 88 for ThorSport full time with sponsorship from Fast Track Delivery Sealer and XE Sighting System. He had eleven top-tens and finished twelfth in the championship standings, third behind Ricky Hendrick and Travis Kvapil for Rookie of the Year. Menards first joined as an associate sponsor in 2002 and that season he earned six top-tens and finished fifteenth in points. Crafton earned 11 top 10s before finishing 11th in points in 2003.
In 2004, Crafton signed on to drive the No. 6 GM Goodwrench Silverado owned by Kevin Harvick Incorporated. He posted a best finish of third place in two races, and with six top fives and 17 top 10s, he ended the season fifth in the final standings. Despite strong statistics in 2004, he was released from KHI and returned to ThorSport for the 2005 season, where he won his first career pole at New Hampshire International Speedway, earning two top fives and 10 top 10s and finishing ninth in the standings. In 2006, he had four top-five finishes, 10 top-10 finishes and finished fourteenth in points. In 2007, he improved to eighth in points and posted ten top-ten finishes for the third consecutive season.
Crafton's first NASCAR win came at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 16, 2008, in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200. It was his 178th start, the record for most starts a driver has had before getting his first win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The win moved him into the top five in points for 2008. Later that season, Crafton filled in for Robby Gordon in practice and qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Homestead because Gordon was at the final off-road race of the season.
2009 was arguably Crafton's best season to date. Although he did not win a race that season, Crafton scored two poles (Chicagoland Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway), 11 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes, ultimately finishing second in the point standings behind champion Ron Hornaday. Crafton had another strong season in 2010, earning one pole at Texas Motor Speedway, 10 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes, resulting in a season-ending rank of fourth.
2011 saw the second win of Crafton's career at Iowa Speedway, in addition to poles at Michigan International Speedway and Martinsville Speedway, where he broke the track qualifying record. However, four DNFs (Did Not Finish) due to engine failures, mechanical issues and accidents caused by other competitors led to only five top fives and 13 top 10s, ultimately relegating Crafton to eighth in the final standings. In 2012, he had a decent season, finishing 6th in points.
Milestones and Records 
Over the course of 11 full-time seasons in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Crafton has reached several milestones and broken records, both individually and with his team:
-Crafton holds the record for the most consecutive Truck Series starts by an active driver.
-In the Las Vegas Motor Speedway race on October 15, 2011 Crafton officially surpassed Dennis Setzer for second in all-time (active and non-active drivers) consecutive starts in the series with 268. Terry Cook is the current record holder with 296, which Crafton can break in the third race of the 2013 season if he continues to make every race.
-Crafton currently holds the record for the fastest qualifying lap at Martinsville Speedway in a truck. Crafton set the record on October 29, 2011 with a qualifying lap of 19.653 seconds (96.352 m.p.h.)
-On August 6, 2011, Crafton and teammate Johnny Sauter started ThorSport Racing's 354th NCWTS race with at least one entry in the field, eclipsing Roush Fenway Racing's previous record of 353.
|NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour Champion