A multitude of mishaps relegate Crafton to a 14th place finish in Chicago
Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Slim Jim/Menards Toyota Tundra, had an average finish of 1.4 on mile-and-a-half tracks, going into Saturday morning's rain delayed American Ethanol 225 at Chicagoland Speedway. Starting second, when qualifying was cancelled due to weather, the two-time and defending series champion was plagued with a multitude of mishaps throughout the 150-lap event, and settled for a 14th-place finish in the seventh annual NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) event at the 1.5-mile tri-oval.
Running as high as second and as low as 18th, Crafton maintained an average running position of 10.3. Crew chief, Carl "Junior" Joiner, brought the No. 88 machine to pit road three times during the race at lap 32, under the competition caution, and laps 81, and 147, respectively. During the first pit stop, for four tires, fuel and and a chassis adjustment, Crafton was served a penalty for crewmembers over the wall too early, and forced to start at the tail-end of the longest line for the lap 36 restart.
Restarting 16th, Crafton was able to work his way up to the ninth position, battling a Menards Toyota Tundra that was "tight through the center of the corner and off," before coming to pit road at lap 81 for four tires, fuel and an adjustment. Unfortunately, the ThorSport Racing driver's bad luck would continue. Crafton would be struck with a second penalty - driving through too many pit stalls - and forced to restart at the tail-end of the longest line for the lap 95 restart.
Restarting 16th, one lap down to the race leaders at lap 95, the Tulare, Calif. driver would battle for the "Lucky Dog" position over the final 55 laps. With varying pit strategies playing out, the No. 88 team was looking for a late-race caution. Unfortunately, "Junior" was forced to bring Crafton to pit road at lap 147 of 150 for two tires and fuel. With no time to make-up ground, Crafton would settle for a 14th-place finish in the "Windy City."
"I'm just ready to go on to New Hampshire and rebound after today. We just missed it a bit on setup. Obviously, we had planned to run last night and that didn't end up happening. I felt like we just needed to keep track position because of that. We just got hung up a lap down when the yellow came out later on, and couldn't really recover and get it back unfortunately.
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