Talladega, Ala. (October 30, 2010) – Every driver fears “the big one” when racing at Talladega, and Matt Crafton came as close as possible to getting swept into a big accident yet still managing to avoid it as possible en route to a fourth-place finish in the Mountain Dew 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway. Crafton’s finish extends his top-ten streak to 13 consecutive races, the longest such streak of any driver in the NCWTS this season.
Crafton was running 15th when several trucks immediately in front of him tangled, sending many of them sideways across the racetrack and Ron Hornaday up into the air and onto his roof. Crafton held his line and missed the spinning trucks- some just by inches – and once the race restarted tagged onto the bumper of his ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter and chased him towards the front. Crafton pushed Sauter to a third-place finish, crossing the line just behind his teammate in fourth, just 70 one-thousandths of a second behind winner Kyle Busch.
“We hung out in the back for most of the race because we knew it would be rough up towards the front,” Crafton said. ‘We were right, there was a lot of trouble up in the lead draft so we definitely made the right call. We raced up into the front when Busch was pushing us but he hung us out to dry so I went to the back of the lead draft because even with 10 laps to go there’s still too much time for something big to happen. Then it looked like the 30 got turned and it started a huge wreck. I only had one choice, to ride right where I was next to the wall and thankfully everyone went down to the inside. But it was definitely close. Another foot or two and we’d have been right in the middle of it.”
Coming to the checkered flag on the final lap, Crafton saw then second-place Busch rub the back bumper of leader Aric Almirola. Both trucks got sideways and broke momentum, which gave Crafton’s teammate Sauter a run to the outside. Crafton followed; he needed to give Sauter a shot in the bumper but just couldn’t get close enough to make it happen.
“I saw Johnny get a run to the outside when Busch got into Almirola but I just couldn’t get close enough to give him a shot in the bumper to get him past,” Crafton said. “If I could have pushed him he’d have sailed right past and won the race. He had so much momentum that if the race was a few feet longer he’d have won. There’s no disappointment here at all though, to come out of here with two trucks both in the top five and both in one piece is a big accomplishment. I’ve been wrecked at the beginning of these races, in the middle of these races, and at the end so to make it to the checkered and get a top five at both Daytona and Talladega in the same season is huge.”
Crafton leapfrogged into fourth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship standings, seven points ahead of fifth place Austin Dillon. Crafton trails teammate Johnny Sauter by 94 points with three races remaining in the 2010 season.
Next up for Crafton and the No. 88 Menards/SealBest Chevrolet is the Winstar World Casino 350 at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday November 5. The race will be televised live on SPEED starting with a 30-minute pre-race show at 8:30 P.M. Eastern. The race can also be heard live on select affiliates of the MRN Radio network nationwide and on Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 128.