Crafton extends point lead with top-five finish at Texas

Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Goof-Off/Menards Toyota Tundra, took another step towards making history and becoming the first back-to-back champion in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) following a fifth-place finish in Friday night's WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) in Fort Worth. The ThorSport Racing driver scored his ninth top-five finish at the 1.5-mile track, extending his point lead by five to 23 over second-place Ryan Blaney with only two races remaining on the 2014 NCWTS schedule.

Starting from the third position, Crafton immediately asserted himself as a contender from the outset. Despite a "free" balance through the race's first green-flag run, Crafton solidified his position in the top-five. Under the first caution flag on lap 23, crew chief Carl "Junior" Joiner brought the Menards Tundra to pit road for four tires and fuel, returning the No. 88 machine to the track with the race lead. The race's middle segment featured a long green flag stint in which Crafton continued to run inside the top-three while battling a tight condition on corner entry.

 

Immediately following a green flag pit stop for four tires and fuel on lap 74, the races second yellow flag was displayed on lap 77 for debris on the backstretch. "Junior" made the call to bring the No. 88 Tundra back to pit road for a set of sticker tires, lining Crafton up third for the lap 81 restart. The ThorSport Racing driver would maintain a second-place position over the next 33 laps, battling side-by-side with Kyle Busch for the race lead.

 

A caution at lap 139 for an accident on the frontstretch gave Crafton an opportunity to make his final pit stop of the night, taking on four tires with an air pressure adjustment. After numerous teams opted for alternate strategies, Crafton restarted 10th on lap 142. The Menards driver would pick his way through traffic in the closing laps which included a Green-White-Checker finish, crossing the stripe in the fifth position behind race winner Kyle Busch. The fifth-place result was Crafton's 12th top-five finish of the 2014 NCWTS season.

 

Thorsport PR

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Steven B. Wilson

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