Matt Crafton's 2011 Fast Start
Leading Johnny Sauter and Timothy Peters at Nashville.
All photos used were taken by Ronda Greer/ R.A.G. Photography. All images used with permission of Matt Crafton and ThorSport Racing.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is now five races in of its usual 25 race season. Those five races with the new points system have produced four different winners. However, only one of those drivers, Johnny Sauter, is running for the Truck championship—and he happens to be the point leader.
With the next scheduled for May 13 at Dover, the top-5 in points this season so far has usual faces up front. While veteran Todd Bodine is struggling to get toward the top-5, drivers like rookie Cole Whitt and seven year veteran Timothy Peters are all within twelve points of taking the point lead after Dover.
Of that top-5, one driver has been a veteran of the Series since 2001. Having made every race since the 2000 finale, Matt Crafton seems to have picked up some needed momentum. After a fast start in 2009, and a slow start in 2010, Crafton began this year with a 10th place showing in Daytona. Since that race, Crafton has started no worse than 15th, has finished no lower than 11th, and held the point lead for two weeks. Despite slipping to third in the standings, Crafton says that he is happy right now.
“I'm happy (as happy as I can be right now),” says Crafton. “I mean, it's not like last year when three races in, we started having some serious bad luck and random things happening like blown motors.”
Although Matt Crafton’s 2011 season has been arguably a very good year to this point, Crafton also said that there is a “reach for greatness.” “Four top tens in five races works, but we want to win a race here soon.”
And who can blame him for a wanting to win? Going into Dover, Crafton has a 74 race winless streak under his belt. Crafton says he wants to win at Dover because of what could go in the trophy case. “Dover is one that I want pretty badly because that's a trophy I want. Who doesn't want the Monster Mile trophy?” said Matt.
Looking ahead, Crafton told our site that Texas might be the best chance for his team to break out and win. “I've won there before in other Series and it's one of my favorites,” stated Crafton. “Phoenix in the fall is another favorite.”
All in all, like any driver, Crafton hopes that the success that his team is enjoying is not short-term. Crafton hopes that the fans and reporters continue to talk positively about him and his team. “If we hunker down and commit to that,” says Crafton, “then they have no choice but to report on us being a threat. There would be nothing more awesome than to deliver a championship to Duke and Rhonda Thorson. They've done so much for me in my career.”
Looking to the future, Crafton says that this year he really needs to focus on his chances at the championship. He says that he would be open to finding a ride in a higher series if the opportunity is there. “It's not my focus, but I'd be stupid to say that I wouldn't look at an opportunity if it came to me. I'm focused on winning a truck championship for ThorSport Racing this year.”
Ronda Greer/ R.A.G. Photography.
Waving to the crowd prior to the drop of the green flag at Nashville.