Consistent Crafton finishes third at Vegas increases point lead
Matt Crafton has been the ideal image for consistency this season, and after Saturday night's Rhino Linings 350 at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway (LVMS), the JELD-WEN/Menards driver proved why he is in the hunt for a second consecutive NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) title.
Entering the 17th race on the 2014 NCWTS schedule, Crafton had an average finish of 2.6 on 1.5-mile tracks. The ThorSport Racing driver continued that consistency, finishing third, earning his sixth top-five finish in 14 starts at LVMS. The solid run marked Crafton's 10th top-five finish of the season and allowed the Menards driver to extend his point lead on second-place to 19.
Starting fifth, Crafton maintained a position inside the top-five throughout the 146-lap event fighting a Toyota Tundra that was "plowing tight" in the opening laps. Crew chief Carl "Junior" Joiner brought the No. 88 machine to pit road under caution for scheduled stops at laps 32 and 57, respectively, for four tires and fuel. With 50 laps remaining Crafton was scored as the fastest truck on the track. The Menards driver began knocking off positions one-by-one, eventually leading four laps before bringing his Tundra to pit road for the final scheduled stop, under green, at lap 108 for four tires and fuel. Unfortunately, a slow pit stop would cause Crafton to lose two seconds to the race leader and the No. 88 would be scored third when he returned to the race track with 38 laps remaining. Crafton would maintain his position in the closing laps to finish third behind race winner, Erik Jones.
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