Crafton looking for elusive Vegas win

26 Sep 2013 NASCAR Wire Service
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Matt Crafton has rolled the dice before at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but he's never been the driver left holding the winning hand.

He's quietly put together a stretch of five top-five finishes at the 1.5-mile track, which includes three runner-up finishes and an average finish of 2.8 over that span. This Saturday during the Smith's 350 (8:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1), however, he'll be looking to capture his first checkered flag in Vegas.

Last season, in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' most recent trip to the track, Crafton was leading with one lap to go when Nelson Piquet Jr. passed him to steal away the victory. That missed opportunity was difficult for Crafton.

"We had a really, really good truck last year and I led the last 14 laps, but I got passed on the last lap by Nelson," Crafton said. "That's been one of the hardest losses to swallow of my entire career -- our truck was that good."

In 12 career starts at Vegas in the series, Crafton has compiled five top fives and six top 10s. In the past eight races, he leads the series with 371 green-flag passes and 304 quality passes, and is second in laps running in the top 15. His driver rating at the 1.5-mile is a respectable 95.5.

With 16 races already in the books in 2013 Crafton has finished in the top 10 in all of the races. If he finishes in the top 10 Saturday and in the next two races (at Talladega and Martinsville), he'll tie Ron Hornaday Jr.'s 2006 record streak of top-10 finishes to start a season.

"Hopefully we can keep doing what we're doing and carry it through to the end of the year," said Crafton, who leads the standings by 41 points over reigning champion James Buescher. "That would really be special to finish this thing out."

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