Crafton finishes third at Loudon

In pure championship fashion, Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Slim Jim/Menards Toyota Tundra, overcame a 30th-place qualifying result to take the lead in the closing stages of the race before ultimately crossing the stripe third in the 17th annual UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. This was the reigning champion's track-best finish in 12 starts at the "Magic Mile." The solid run allowed the ThorSport Racing driver to extend his lead over second-place Johnny Sauter in his quest to be the first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver to win back-to-back championships.

Starting last due to an electrical problem in qualifying, Crafton worked his way into the 12th position by lap 10 and was sitting comfortably inside the top-10 by lap 20, battling a Toyota Tundra that was, "free, but a good free." Crew chief Carl "Junior" Joiner called the No. 88 machine to pit road for scheduled stops under green at lap 68 and under caution at lap 102 for four tires and fuel. Running consistently inside the top-five, Crafton was scored a race-high third when the second caution flag was displayed at lap 147 for an accident in Turn 4. Joiner made the call to bring the Menards Tundra to pit road for right side tires and fuel only, while some trucks opted for four tires.

 

Restarting on the outside of the front row on lap 152, Crafton took the lead on the restart and maintained his position out front through the next 20 circuits, including two restarts at laps 159 and 164, respectively. However, on the final restart at lap 171, the 00 machine passed the Menards Tundra and never looked back. Crafton would cross the stripe in the third position behind race winner Cole Custer, scoring his third top-five finish in 12 starts at the 1.058-mile oval.

 

Thorsport PR

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