By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
HOMESTEAD, Fla. — For the first 110 laps of Friday night’s Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, it looked like Matt Crafton, who drives the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra had his third NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship all sewed up. But over the final 24 laps of the season-ending Championship race, the handling went away on Crafton’s race truck.
“Really good there at the beginning and then was terrible there on the last run and came up short,” a dejected Crafton summarized following the race.
Adding salt into the wounds, is the fact that the driver who passed Crafton up for the championship in the closing laps was his former teammate, and bitter rival — Johnny Sauter.
For a moment on the final run of the race, it appeared that Crafton would be able to hold off Crafton for the championship.
“And then he passed me,” a peeved Crafton stated.
The 40-year old veteran of the truck series went on to share that he had a sinking feeling that the title was slipping from his grasp, as his car went sour in the waning laps of Friday’s race.
“I kind of figured it was a matter of time,” said Crafton. “We were just really bad on that last run for whatever reason. We just went the wrong way for whatever reason. It just got really tight on that last run.”
Crafton, who has enjoyed a 16-year career in the Camping World Truck Series looked sick to his stomach that he let another shot at a championship slip through his fingers, but once the sting of this loss wears off maybe Crafton will be able to appreciate the incredible run he has been on in NASCAR third-tier National Series.
Over the past four years, Crafton has racked up two championships and he has not finished worse than third in the championship standings over that span in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.