Pocono's green white checkered finish thwarts Crafton's top-five bid

For the fourth consecutive year, the Pocono Mountains 150 ended in overtime,earning the event an unpredictable reputation, and the 2014 version followed suit. Though Matt Crafton continued his streak of consistent speed and performance, a late-race green-white-checkered restart handed the Rip It Energy Fuel/Menards Toyota team a 14th-place finish in the fifth-annual event. The result is Crafton's only Pocono finish outside the top-10, placing the defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) champion 12 markers out of the point lead in the third position at the halfway mark of the 2014 season.

In both of Friday's practice sessions, the ThorSport Racing driver battled a tight condition. Crew chief Carl Joiner and the Menards team made slight adjustments to the Toyota Tundra for the race from qualifying, where Crafton advanced to the final round and earned a ninth-place starting position.


The tight-handling characteristic from practice carried over to the drop of the green flag on Saturday, as Crafton complained to Joiner and company that his Toyota Tundra was struggling through the corners from the center off, making it difficult for the defending NCWTS champion to get back to the throttle and power down the long straightaways. During the event's first caution on lap 18, Crafton, running eighth, was called down pit road for two right side tires, an air pressure adjustment, and one can of Sunoco Racing fuel. The Menards driver restarted from the sixth position on lap 21, and eventually advanced inside the top-five when the race leaders began making their way down pit road on lap 30 for green flag pit stops. Joiner elected to keep the No. 88 machine on the track to earn a championship bonus point before pitting for another pair of right-side tires and fuel under green on lap 40.


After rejoining the field in 15th, Crafton continued to fight a "really tight" balance, but advanced into the top-10 through a series of late race cautions that set up a green-white-checkered finish. Restarting fifth, Crafton made several attempts to make three-wide maneuvers to advance into the top-five, but lost momentum in traffic and was shuffled to a 14th-place finish at the drop of the checkered flag.


Thorsport PR

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Steven B. Wilson

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