A solid one-day show for the No. 88 Menards/Fisher Nuts team at Chicagoland Speedway earned Matt Crafton a seventh-place finish in the Fast Five 225, his 10th top 10 finish of the season. The consistent top-10 night for Crafton closed the gap in the championship hunt to less than 50 points and earned him one spot in the championship standings, putting him only two points outside the top five in points.
Even before taking the green flag from the 10th spot, Crafton was already confident that the Menards/Fisher Nuts Chevrolet was going to have a solid night in the Windy City. "You guys have built me a great truck," Crafton relayed over the team radio during the pace laps. "Let's go out there and get it on."
Once green-flag racing began, Crafton maintained his top-10 position, relaying to crew chief Bud Haefele under the first caution on lap 11 that the truck was a little tight, snapping loose every once in a while. Restarting on lap 14, the handling of the No. 88 began to come to him, and on lap 15 he took over the ninth spot. A long green-flag run led to green-flag pit stops beginning on lap 41 with Crafton in the 7th position. Haefele called Crafton to pit road two laps later and the ThorSport Racing crew provided him with four fresh tires and fuel. Returning to the track in the same position he came in, a yellow tightened up the field on lap 59.
Crafton stated that the truck was continuing to come to him with the new set of tires, so the team opted to remain out during the caution and took the green flag in seventh. However, with the truck growing quite a bit free, the No. 88 had slipped to 10th when the third and final yellow of the night waved on lap 83. The team performed a stellar stop, providing Crafton with four tires, fuel and a minor air-pressure adjustment while gaining him two positions in the pits.
Restarting in the eighth position on lap 88, the action on the track grew more intense as Crafton went four-wide shortly after the green flag. Despite the fact that the truck was still over-rotating in the center, he maintained his position until the final round of green-flag stops began on lap 130. In an effort to gain position in the pits as the field increasingly spread out, the No. 88 team opted for only two tires and a splash of fuel. The strategy paid off, earning Crafton one spot as stops cycled through, ultimately putting the Menards/Fisher Nuts Silverado in seventh place when the checkered flag waved.
"This was the consistent kind of night that we needed," said Crafton following the event. "These guys work hard week after week to build me good trucks, and we're still chipping away at the points. We're just a hair outside of the top five and we're honestly not out of this championship yet. Hopefully we'll get back into the top five next week in New Hampshire and see where we can go from there."
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday, September 24th. Crafton improved his points position by one spot, now sitting sixth in the championship standings. He is currently 49 points behind leader James Buescher and two points behind fifth place.
Thorsport Racing PR