Matt Crafton

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Matt Crafton
Matt Crafton at the Daytona 500.JPG
Crafton in 2015
Born Matthew Justin Crafton
(1976-06-11) June 11, 1976 (age 39)
Tulare, California, U.S.
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight 160 lb (73 kg)
Achievements 2013, 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion
2000 NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour Champion
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career
1 race run over 1 year
Car no., team No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing
2014 position 74th
Best finish 74th (2014)
First race 2015 Daytona 500 (Daytona)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 0 0
NASCAR Xfinity Series career
4 races run over 2 years
2014 position 98th
Best finish 98th (2014)
First race 2013 Feed the Children 300 (Kentucky)
Last race 2014 Boyd Gaming 300 (Las Vegas)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 3 0
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career
353 races run over 16 years
Truck no., team No. 88 (ThorSport Racing)
2014 position 1st
Best finish 1st (2013, 2014)
First race 2000 Motorola 200 (California)
Last race 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 250 (Mosport)
First win 2008 North Carolina Education Lottery 200 (Charlotte)
Last win 2015 UNOH 225 (Kentucky)
Wins Top tens Poles
9 205 8
Statistics current as of August 30, 2015.

Matthew Justin "Matt" Crafton (born June 11, 1976)[1] is an American professional stock car racing driver. A two-time champion of the Truck Series (2013, 2014). He currently competes full-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, driving the No. 88 Toyota Tundra for ThorSport Racing.

Early career[edit]

Matt Crafton's blue No. 46 Ford
Crafton's No. 46 Featherlite Southwest Series car

Crafton was born in Tulare, California. Before turning to NASCAR racing in 2000, he 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 career[edit]

Camping World Truck Series[edit]

Crafton made his 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 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.

In 2009, 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.

Crafton at Kentucky Speedway in 2011
Crafton's 2012 truck

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.

2013 was Crafton's best season in his career to date. He won his third career race at Kansas in April. After this win, Crafton picked up the points lead and held it for the rest of the season. He finished in the top ten in the first sixteen races of the season, and 19 overall, with a worst finish of 21st in the season finale at Homestead. He clinched his first Truck Series championship with his start in that race,[2] and was able to stay on the lead lap despite late crash damage to become the first driver to complete every lap of the season in the Truck Series.[3]

On March 30, 2014, Crafton scored his fourth career Truck win at Martinsville.[4] On June 6, he won on fuel strategy at Texas Motor Speedway to win two races in a season for the first time in his career. It was also the first time he led more than 100 laps in a race. Despite crashing out at Dover and Gateway, his first DNFs in over two years, Crafton would ultimately go on to become the first back-to-back champion in the Truck Series.

On February 28, 2015, Crafton scored his sixth career Truck victory in the revived Atlanta race. On May 8, he used fuel strategy to win at Kansas after multiple other top five Trucks ran out in the closing laps, winning a second race at one track for the first time in his career. He is also the first driver to win two Truck races at Kansas. On June 5, he won at Texas, successfully defending his win from the year before, another career first. His fourth win of the season came at Kentucky after the race was cut short due to damage to the catchfence from Ben Kennedy's crash. It was also his first career victory from the pole.

Sprint Cup Series[edit]

Because of Crafton's sponsorship with Menards, he has been able to make spot duty with Menards' Sprint Cup sponsored team of Richard Childress Racing and satellites. Crafton was called in to substitute for Paul Menard's No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet twice in 2014; first at January Daytona testing after a pipe burst in Menard's house,[5] and Crafton was third fastest with a speed of 194.342 miles per hour (312.763 km/h).[6] In March, with Menard on paternity leave, he was on stand-by to relief drive for Paul Menard at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Kobalt 400, due to Menard and his wife expecting their first child.[7] Crafton practiced and qualified for Menard at the Auto Club 400,[8] qualifying 30th.[9]

Crafton attempted to make his Cup Series debut with RAB Racing in the no. 29 at the 2014 Brickyard 400, but failed to qualify.[10]

Crafton returned to the Childress Sprint Cup paddock, qualifying the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevy at the Pure Michigan 400 in place of Martin Truex Jr., who was on leave as his girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, underwent cancer treatment.[11]

Crafton made his Sprint Cup debut in the 2015 Daytona 500, substituting for Kyle Busch in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 after Busch suffered a compound leg fracture in the previous day's Xfinity Series race.[12] He finished 18th after starting 43rd.

Milestones and records[edit]

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 third race of the 2013 season, Crafton passed Terry Cook's record of consecutive starts in the series. Cook had held the record with 296 consecutive starts.
  • 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 mph)[13]
  • 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.
  • On November 14, 2014, Crafton became the first back-to-back NCWTS champion.

Other racing[edit]

Crafton signing autographs at the 2014 IWK 250

In 2012, Crafton, supported by Travis Pastrana, competed in the TORC: The Off Road Championship series' PRO 2WD truck race at Chicagoland, finishing third. He returned to TORC in 2015, running in the Pro 4WD division in a Chris Kyle Memorial Benefit-sponsored truck at Texas.[14] During the race, he was forced to operate the truck with a two-wheel drive due to problems with his truck's differential.[15]

Crafton raced in the 2014 and 2015 IWK 250 pro stock races at Riverside International Speedway in support of the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia.[16] Crafton sat on the pole for the 2014 edition of the race, and wound up finishing 10th, one lap down.[17] In 2015 Crafton started third and quickly made his way to the front of the pack before retiring from the race with brake failure, ultimately finishing 21st.[18]

Motorsports career results[edit]

NASCAR[edit]

(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)

Sprint Cup Series[edit]

Daytona 500 results[edit]
Year Team Manufacturer Start Finish
2015 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 43 18

Nationwide Series[edit]

Camping World Truck Series[edit]

* Season in progress
1 Ineligible for series points

References[edit]

  1. ^ Matt Crafton Career Statistics
  2. ^ Olson, Jeff (November 15, 2013). "With Homestead start, Matt Crafton clinches Trucks title". USA Today. Retrieved November 15, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Matt Crafton Wins NASCAR Truck Series Championship". ESPN. November 15, 2013. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Matt Crafton Wins Rain Delayed Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway". 
  5. ^ Bromberg, Nick (January 10, 2014). "Richard Childress Racing cars top the charts at Preseason Thunder". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved January 11, 2014. 
  6. ^ Bruce, Kenny (January 10, 2014). "AUSTIN DILLON SETS PACE AT PRESEASON THUNDER". NASCAR. Retrieved January 11, 2014. 
  7. ^ DiZinno, Tony (March 5, 2014). "Report: Matt Crafton on standby this weekend for Paul Menard in Las Vegas". MotorSports Talk. NBC Sports. Retrieved 2014-03-07. 
  8. ^ Long, Dustin (March 21, 2014). "Crafton to Sub for Menard on Friday". Motor Racing Network. Retrieved March 27, 2014. 
  9. ^ Gluck, Jeff (March 21, 2014). "Matt Kenseth wins pole for Auto Club 400 at Fontana". USA Today. Retrieved March 27, 2014. 
  10. ^ Bonkowski, Jerry (July 26, 2014). "Kevin Harvick wins 4th pole of 2014, sets Brickyard 400 track record". NBC Sports. Retrieved July 26, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Truex to miss practice, qualifying". ESPN. August 13, 2014. Retrieved August 14, 2014. 
  12. ^ Staff report (February 21, 2015). "MATT CRAFTON TO SUB FOR KYLE BUSCH IN DAYTONA 500". NASCAR. NASCAR Media Group. Retrieved June 12, 2015. 
  13. ^ NASCAR TRUCKS: Crafton Sets Martinsville Qualifying Record
  14. ^ Spencer, Lee (April 14, 2015). "Crafton will take his skills off road". Motorsport. Retrieved April 17, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Douglas Earns the TORC PRO 4WD Victory in Front of Texas-Sized Crowd". TORC: The Off Road Championship. April 26, 2015. Retrieved May 5, 2015. 
  16. ^ "NASCAR truck series star Matt Crafton returns for the IWK 250". The Chronicle Herald. Retrieved 2015-09-01. 
  17. ^ "2014 IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2015-09-01. 
  18. ^ "2015 IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2015-09-01. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Kurt Busch
NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour Champion
2000
Succeeded by
Craig Raudman
Preceded by
James Buescher
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion
2013, 2014
Succeeded by
Incumbent