Sandusky, Oh. (October 11, 2010) – Matt Crafton has had to readjust his goals for the 2010 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season. Leaving Daytona with his first ever top-five finish had Crafton in the frame of mind that a championship wasn’t out of the question. After all, he’d been a solid contender for the top spot in 2009.
But disappointing finishes for the No. 88 Menards/SealBest Chevrolet at Atlanta (27th), Kansas (25th), Texas (18th), and Michigan (27th) left Crafton thinking it might be a stretch to crack the top ten in the standings at the end of the season. Despite the disjointed first third of the season, Crafton is not only solidly among the top ten but sitting fifth with five races to go. And he has a realistic chance at staying in the top five for the third consecutive season.
“I said then that the start of our season was the worst we’ve ever had,” Crafton said. “We just had terrible luck and got caught up in some situations that took us out of a chance to not only finish well but to win. It was frustrating because we tore up a lot of good equipment and our guys had to spend a lot of time getting caught up. It’s hard to look forward when you’re sitting on a pile of wrecked stuff. But once we did get caught up we got focused and have been really steady ever since.”
Steady is an understatement: Crafton hasn’t finished outside the top ten since June. His eleven-race top-ten streak is the longest this season in the NCWTS, and during that time he’s also collected six top-five finishes and moved from tenth to fifth in the standings.
“We knew we didn’t have a realistic chance at the championship when we left Michigan,” Crafton said. “It’s not that we gave up on it but we were 350 points out and that’s tough to make up. So we focused on getting the best results we could, winning races and scoring points. We’ve had eleven top tens in a row. We’ve got our consistency back and we’re not just in the top ten we’re in the top five. We think we can get a win before the season is over.”
Consistency has been Crafton’s trademark. Over his 242-race Truck Series career Crafton has rung up 124 top-tens, with 40 of them in the top-five.
“We’ve grown as a team together,” Crafton said. “We’ve all been together for five or six years. We know each other inside and out and that’s what makes this such a great team. Bud (Haefele, crew chief) knows what I am going to say before I say it and he knows what a little tight or a little loose means and exactly how to fix it.”
The longevity of the Crafton-Haefele combination, in place since the start of the 2006 season, is only overshadowed by the longevity of the team itself. ThorSport Racing has fielded at least one entry in each series race since the first race of the 1998 season at Walt Disney World Speedway. The team’s relationship with primary sponsor Menards has endured since the start of the 2002 season, the longest team/sponsor relationship in series history. All told, the team has had 468 entries in 335 races.
“Duke and Rhonda Thorson are absolutely the type of owners NASCAR needs,” Crafton said. “They are committed to building a strong team and they haven’t ever wavered in their support. They give us everything we need. They treat us like family and it’s been an honor to drive for them. We’d like to get them a win before the season is over and get ourselves in a position to fight for the championship again next year. That’s the ultimate goal, getting to sit at the head table in December.”