Crafton comes up short - finishes seventh after strong run at Bristol
Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Great Lakes/Menards Toyota Tundra, looked like he was in position to capture his fifth win of the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season late in Wednesday night's UNOH 200 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (BMS), but the ThorSport Racing driver came up short on fuel after a strong showing. Leading the field twice for 39 laps, a late race restart, with minimal fuel in the cell of his Toyota Tundra, would hinder the two-time, and defending series champion, from visiting victory lane for the first time in his career at "Thunder Valley."
Starting sixth, Crafton battled a Toyota Tundra that was "tight through the center of the corner and exit," through the first 80 laps of the 200-lap UNOH 200. Crew chief Carl "Junior" Joiner brought the No. 88 machine to pit road at lap 81, under the race's second caution of the night, for four tires and fuel. Crafton would restart fourth at lap 89, and battle with his teammate, Johnny Sauter, for a top spot over the ensuing 50 laps before taking over the lead from Cole Custer at lap 160, one lap before Mother Nature halted the event for rain.
Following a 45-minute delay in action, Crafton would lead the field to green with only 25 laps remaining in the 200-lap event. Pulling away from the field on the initial restart, Crafton had over a half-second lead on second-place when the final caution flag of the night was displayed on lap 197 for an accident in Turn 3, forcing the field into overtime. The ThorSport Racing driver would get shuffled back to seventh when a fuel pick-up issue forced the defending series champion to lose valuable track position. Crafton would settle for a seventh-place finish behind race winner, Ryan Blaney, in the 18th Annual UNOH 200 at BMS.
"I would have been fine if they called the race when it started raining - it would have been a little less pressure. I thought we had something when it restarted, we were a little tight through the center and off, but pretty good. Unfortunately, we only had about four gallons of fuel left in the tank on that final restart, and the way the banking is at Bristol, it didn't pick-up in the fuel cell. It is what it is, I guess. All-in-all it wasn't a bad points day, just really frustrating."
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