Reigning NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton found himself Thursdaymorning surrounded by more than 500 fellow defending champions.
Crafton made a special visit to Roanoke Elementary to present the Rangers with their 2013-14 Speeding To Read replicachampionship trophy as well as celebrate the Northwest ISD school being the Turn 1 leaders in this year's competition with six other elementary schools representing four districts.
Crafton (No. 88 Goof Off/Menards Toyota) can definitely relate to the past and recent success of Roanoke Elementary. He won his first championship last year and heads into Friday night's WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 at Texas Motor Speedway with the points lead and eyeing history as the first truck series driver to win back-to-back titles. Roanoke is seeking to do the same and he shared a key for that to happen with the student body of more than 500 kindergarten through fifth graders during the assembly in the school gymnasium.
"Being determined is huge for sure," Crafton said. "If they can be determined, they can do whatever you want to do. Hopefully I can be determined enough and have enough luck to be able to win my championship and that's what they've done. They are looking to go back to back too."
Roanoke Elementary took the Turn 1 lead in Speeding To Read with 96.5 percent of their student body meeting or exceeding their reading goals up to this stage of the school year-long competition. The Rangers are competing against Nance and J.C. Thompson of Northwest ISD; E.P. Rayzor of Denton ISD; Eagle Mountain of Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD; and Carroll Peak and Riverside Applied Learning Center of the Fort Worth ISD.
The top readers from each grade level - kindergartener Micah Key (140 books), first-grader Zoe Tucker (269), second-grader Hannah Um (316), third-grader Ian Puckett (29 chapter books), fourth-grader Ella Von Derau (32 chapter) and fifth-grader Andrea San Luis (65 chapter) - were recognized and teamed with Crafton in a $100,00 Pyramid book character competition during the assembly. Crafton rewarded the group with signed TMS caps.
"It was very cool to be around them and see their energy they had and to see all their awards and see what they have done," Crafton said. "That was really awesome to see all the awards. Especially, to be around the kids now that I have a daughter (Elladee) to look at what she is going to do it's going to be very, very cool road ahead for me."
Crafton and the Camping World Truck Series are on track today at Texas Motor Speedway for a pair of practices, the first at 1 p.m. CT and the second at 2:30 p.m. Pinnacle Propane Qualifying Days for the series begins at 2:10 p.m. Friday and is followed by the WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 (147 laps/220.5 miles) at 7:30 p.m.