Crafton remains point leader after a 14th place finish at Talladega
Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Fisher Nuts/Menards Toyota Tundra entered Saturday afternoon's fred's 250 at Talladega Superspeedway with a 19 point lead in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) driver point standings. Although the defending champion endured an up and down kind of day, the ThorSport Racing driver left the "wild card race" with a 14th-place finish and an 16 point lead in the 2014 NCWTS driver point standings.
Starting a track-best third, Crafton maintained a position inside the top-five before coming down pit road for fuel only under the first caution for a five truck pile-up on the backstretch at lap 13. As the Menards driver was exiting his pit stall, contact with another competitor resulted in splitter and right front damage on the No. 88 Tundra. When racing resumed on lap 18, Crafton was scored 25th.
Crafton made his way up to the third position over the next 31 circuits before bringing his Tundra back down pit road at lap 49, under green, for a scheduled stop for right side tires and fuel. The Menards Tundra would return to the track scored ninth and remain inside the top-10 before being black flagged by NASCAR for push drafting. Crafton was forced to serve a pass through penalty on lap 55, ultimately causing the Tulare, California driver to lose the draft. Fortunately, the second caution flag was displayed four laps later for a stopped truck on the track, allowing the No. 88 machine to catch up with the lead pack.
Crew Chief Carl Joiner brought the Menards Tundra to pit road under caution several times to work on the right front and splitter area to fix the aerodynamics for the final 30 laps. Crafton returned to the 2.66-mile track scored 17th and opted run at the tail of the field for the next 15 laps to watch the "drama unfold." With 10 laps remaining, Crafton hooked up with his teammate, Jeb Burton, and the two worked the draft to make it up to the top-10. As the race went into overtime, it was every driver for himself. Crafton was shuffled back on the final lap and credited with a 14th-place finish behind race winner, Timothy Peters.
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