CHARLOTTE, NC – In news involving the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Matt Crafton, long seen driving the bright yellow Toyota Tundra, announced that the No. 88 truck would be a Ford F-150 in 2018. How could that affect the team this new season?
“We’re looking forward to working with Ford and they’re what I started with in NASCAR. In my old Southwest Tour days in 1997 I started racing a Ford out west and that’s all my dad has ever owned and raced, so it’s very exciting for him because he always said whenever I first started racing another manufacturer, ‘I don’t know if I can root for you because I’ve only driven a Ford and you’ve only driven a Ford,’ so I guess now I’ve got a new fan in my dad.”
Crafton admitted that it was quite a job to switch manufacturers, but work is underway at the shop and going well in converting more than 16 tucks.
“We have to cut everything off from the windshield bed forward and put all the Ford noses on it and the Ford back half, so there’s a lot going on and those guys are working a lot of hours right now to get this stuff done,” Crafton said. “We have four teams going to Daytona, so two per team, and we’re doing the test tomorrow. So we have one done for that.”
Crafton said that though Ford will have wind tunnel and aerodynamic help, the late change in manufacturers won’t allow the team to take advantage of any of those services. The change caught him totally by surprise.
“I had no idea, to be honest. It was definitely something that caught me off guard when they told me what we were doing,” Crafton said. “I was like, ‘Wow, OK.’ I’m very excited about it without a doubt just for the fact of that’s what I started in. That’s what I started my NASCAR career in and that’s what my dad has done and raced all his life.”
Crafton’s hobby is racing dirt modifieds, and though he didn’t run the Chili Bowl this season (not enough seats available), he plans to do a little of that prior to the big race at the superspeedway. Add to that, Crafton, a former series champion at Thorsport, expressed a common viewpoint on the health of the truck series.
“I think what we need to do is go to some different places and not just have us racing all the same race tracks,” Crafton said. “It’s great to race with the Cup Series, but, at the same time, we need to go to different places. We need more road courses. If you look in the Cup Series, what races did they sell out? The road courses. Our biggest turnout of the year was a road course. We need another road course, I feel. Maybe another dirt track. Take us to some short tracks and not just all the mile-and-a-halves. There are so many great short tracks that we used to race at. I know NASCAR is in a tough box with those people not having enough capacity in the stands to be able to – you have all the sanctioning fees and the tracks to be able to sell enough seats to be able to pay for those races and a lot of mile-and-a-halves do, so I would definitely like to see us go back to quite a few of these.”