NCWTS: Matt Crafton Hopes to Become First Back-to-Back Championship Winner at Homestead

Matt Crafton came into the 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season looking to improve after his solid championship run in 2013. The 38-year-old has a shot to capture his second consecutive championship of his career after having an even better year in 2014.

After finding himself finishing the 2013 season with just one victory, Crafton will finish  the year with at least two. It might surprise you, but he only holds five career victories since his debut in 2000. So what has kept Crafton around in the series? Great question. I think it’s because he is a more consistent driver than a race winner. The 13 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes certainly speak for that. The last time he had around that many, which was in the 2009 season with 11 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes, Crafton found himself in the runner-up spot in the standings following the season finale race. What’s even more crazy? Crafton only led nine laps during that entire season. During 2010, the driver found himself having a similar situation except having one less top-five and top-10 finish. How many laps did he lead during the entire year? Just 15. How many has he led in 2014 going into Homestead? Just shy of 300 with 298.

Given that the win count isn’t anywhere near where he wants it to be, the runner-up finishing position might as well get married with Crafton. Including this past weekend at the Phoenix International Raceway, the 38-year-old has came home in second five times in 2014. Four of those runner-up finishes have all came behind the No. 51 Toyota of either Kyle Busch or Erik Jones.

Since the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series made its inception in 1995, there has yet to be a back-to-back championship winner. However, Crafton will not be the first to score more than one championship as Ron Hornaday Jr., Jack Sprague and Todd Bodine have all accomplished this feat. It just goes to show how tough the competition is on a week-by-week and season-by-season basis.

Crafton says that he isn’t worried about points this weekend.  "I'm going into Homestead and trying to win the race.  That's been our goal since Daytona -- we haven't looked at the points and we haven't focused anything on points.  Just went out there and tried to win as many races as possible."

Although, unlike how the Nationwide Series championship is locked up heading into the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Crafton will have some work to do. In order to become the first back-to-back championship winner, he will have to either finish 21st or better, 22nd with at least one lap led or 23rd and leading the most laps of the 200-mile race. This shouldn’t be tough to do but you just never know what might happen. He currently sits 25 points ahead of Ryan Blaney.

As for the owner’s championship, which is currently held by Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 Toyota by 18 points, Crafton will have to finish 14 spots ahead or better, 15th with at least one lap led or 16th or better with the most laps led. With Busch entered into Friday night’s event, and based off of performance all season long, It’ll be a tough deal to do.

P

Driver

Points

Behind

1

Matt Crafton

798

Leader

2

Ryan Blaney

773

-25

3

Darrell Wallace Jr.

752

-46

4

Johnny Sauter

739

-59

5

Timothy Peters

705

-93

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Brett Winningham

Brett has been following the sport of NASCAR since the beginning of the 2006 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Since Brett was 13, he has had a passion of chasing a job in sports that not many get the opportunity of doing. He has been in the NASCAR media since the middle of the 2010 season. Since then, he has been a part of many racing podcast shows to improve his talents. You can find him on twitter @NASCAR_Brett.

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