Crafton scores track best finish at Loudon

Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Rip It/Menards Toyota Tundra entered Saturday's UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) in Loudon, looking for redemption. The two-time and defending series champion began the 17th race on the 2015 NCWTS schedule third in the championship point standings, 11 points out of the lead. Following a track-best second-place finish in the 175-lap event, the ThorSport Racing driver is now second in the driver point standings, a mere seven points behind leader, Erik Jones.
Crafton, who showed strength in both NCWTS practice sessions on Friday afternoon, fought a "loose" Toyota Tundra in qualifying on Saturday morning, and settled for a 10th-place qualifying effort for the 18th annual event at the "Magic Mile."
Crew chief Carl "Junior" Joiner brought the No. 88 machine to pit road twice during the 175-lap event at lap 37, under caution, and lap 113, under green, for four tires, fuel and adjustments. Fighting a Tundra that would swing from loose, to neutral, to tight, under a long green-flag run, Crafton maintained a position inside the top-10 throughout the race.
Following a cycle of green flag pit stops, just past the half-way mark, the Menards driver would find himself toying with fuel strategy late in the race, contemplating making it to the end on fuel. However, a pair of late-race cautions allowed the No. 88 team to make it to their fuel window, and contend for the win in the final laps. Working with teammate, Johnny Sauter, on the final restart, Crafton would cross the stripe in the second position, a track-best finish, behind race winner Austin Dillon in the series 500th race.   
"It was a very eventful day without a doubt. We missed it in qualifying for sure. We didn't qualify nearly as well as we wanted to, and just kept tuning on it all day. My restarts were beyond pathetic right there at the end. Johnny (Sauter) kept helping me get my feet off the ground on the last restart, but it still left something to be desired, for sure. All in all, it was pretty good day. I would say we had about the third-best truck here, and came out of here second. I'll leave with that, and run."

Thorsport PR
Speedway Digest Staff

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