Debris demolishes Crafton's Day at Talladega

Making his 10th start at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in Saturday afternoon's fred's 250, Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Hormel Pepperoni/Menards Toyota Tundra, looked like he would be a contender for victory lane following the 94-lap event. Leading the field three times, for 43 of the races first 66 laps, a chain of events late in the 10th annual event would ultimately leave the ThorSport Racing driver with a 24th-place finish, two laps down to the race leader, following the 19th race on the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) schedule.
Crafton, who led a race-high 43 laps, was forced to give-up the lead at lap 67 when his Menards Toyota Tundra started overheating due to a piece of debris on the grill. Dropping back as far as 20th, in an effort to remove the debris, Crafton would eventually lose the draft, so he could cool-down his Toyota Tundra. As the leaders began making their way down pit road at lap 72, Crafton remained on the track, hooked-up with teammate Cameron Hayley, in hopes of catching a caution. Crew chief Carl "Junior" Joiner would eventually bring the No. 88 machine to pit road at lap 77, but unfortunately, Crafton would run out of fuel before getting to his stall, losing valuable track position under green-flag race conditions.
Still on the lead lap, but scored in the 23rd position, "Junior" would take advantage of the lap 82 caution, to bring the Menards Tundra to pit road for four tires and fuel, in an effort to make a dominating run to the front of the field over the final 12 laps. Unfortunately, Crafton's luck would continue. Just three laps later, the "Big One" would occur on the backstretch, causing a nine-truck pile-up and a fourteen-minute red flag condition. Crafton, who made hard contact with the wall, would limp back to his pit stall, with major damage to the tail, left front, and left rear of the No. 88 machine.
Once the red flag was lifted, "Junior" facilitated a plan to get Crafton back out on the track, which consisted of multiple trips down pit road to repair the damage. Unfortunately, Crafton was unable to recover and would settle for a 24th-place finish, two laps down to race winner, Timothy Peters.
The unfortunate chain of events would leave the defending series champion third in the 2015 NCWTS driver point standings following the 19th race of the season, five markers behind second-place and 23 points behind point leader, Erik Jones with only four races remaining in the 2015 season.
"The guys brought a great Menards Toyota Tundra, and we led a lot of laps today. This says a lot for what these guys have done at the race track, and what they build, and are bringing to the race track. We qualified seventh and we led a lot of laps. It was fun racing there for a lot of it, but it just wasn't our day. Our goal is to go out and win the final four races and just see what happens with the points, I'm not worried about it."

Thorsport PR
Speedway Digest Staff

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