By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
SPARTA, Ky. – Matt Crafton and his ThorSport Racing team appear to finally be rebounding after struggling for most of the season. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver had to drive through the field in the Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 to finish inside the top-five at Kentucky Speedway.
In the run to the finish, Crafton’s No. 88 Great Lakes / Menards Ford F-150 team elected to take two tires during green flag pit stops. His teammate, Ben Rhodes, who he had been racing with, did not take tires. While Crafton was left to battle with Brandon Jones, Rhodes jumped to the lead. The uneventful race left the field spread out and the two-time Truck Series Champion to settle for fourth.
“I just lost a little bit of track position when we took four and got to racing the 41, and he got away and started racing up front,” Crafton said. “He checked out. He had something going with his pit stop, took two tires or zero. We were good. I felt like if we would have had track position, we could have been there with him, could have raced with him because I had run comparable lap times, I had run faster than him. All in all, great, great effort by everyone at ThorSport.”
Crafton had to climb his way through the field after a big moment in qualifying. After starting 30th, he raced his way inside the top-10 by the end of the first stage, one spot shy of the top-five. From that point on, Crafton ran inside the top-10 for the remainder of the race.
The fourth-place finish is just Crafton’s fourth top-five and fifth top-10 finish of the season. Those stats are uncharacteristic of the Tulare, CA native. Crafton has struggled at times to finish inside the top-15 this season.
When asked about whether this is a turning point for his team this season, Crafton said,
“Absolutely. We’ve been pretty horrendous the last three months. We started off the season okay and then we just went into a funk, and have been in a bad, bad funk. We’ve finished 20thor worse for quite a while now. We finished 11that Chicago, but it was a very sad effort with how we ran. This weekend, I feel that we were really good off of the trailer, fine-tuned it, and looking forward to going to Eldora next week.”
Crafton is still seventh in the Championship Points Standings, 136-points behind Points Leader Johnny Sauter. He is also 85-points ahead of his teammate Myatt Snider, the first driver currently outside of the Playoffs.