Crafton finishes third at Martinsville - Increases his point lead
Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota Tundra, entered Saturday's Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway looking to write his own history at the historical half-mile oval. Although the ThorSport Racing driver wasn't able to sweep both NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) races of 2014 at NASCAR's shortest track, Crafton was able to bring home his 11th top-five finish of the season, finishing third in the 32nd annual event at the "paper clip." The solid run allowed the defending series champion to gain two points on second-place, Ryan Blaney in the 2014 NCWTS driver point standings. With only three races remaining on the 22-race schedule, Crafton has an 18 point lead on the competition.
Starting third, the Menards driver didn't let a "free on entry" Toyota Tundra stop his charge to the front of the field. By lap 47 the No. 88 machine was scored as the race leader and Crafton held off his fellow competitors for 23 laps before surrendering the lead to ThorSport Racing teammate, Johnny Sauter on lap 65. Crafton maintained a position inside the top-five over the next 37 circuits before bringing his Toyota Tundra to pit road under caution at lap 102 for four tires and fuel. When racing resumed on lap 106, Crafton was scored in the 11th position, due to pit strategy by the race leaders.
Unfortunately, as the spring race winner began making his way through the field, congestion in Turn 2 caused the field to check-up and the No. 29 machine got into the back of the Menards Tundra causing damage to the rear bumper, forcing Crafton to lose valuable track position. The ThorSport Racing driver spent the majority of the second-half of the race making his way back through the field while avoiding four pile-ups, which included a 10 minute red-flag condition.
On the final restart, with five laps remaining, Crafton was scored fifth and took advantage of contact between the leaders to gain two positions in the closing laps. The No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra would cross the stripe third behind race winner Darrell Wallace, Jr. The third-place result was Crafton's sixth top-five finish in 26 starts at Martinsville.
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