Matt Crafton Race Recap:
Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Slim Jim/Menards Toyota Tundra, made his 16th career start at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) in Friday night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Lucas Oil 150. Showing speed in both practice sessions on Friday, the ThorSport Racing driver backed up his efforts in qualifying Friday evening, earning the 10th starting position for the 150-lap event under the lights in the desert.
Battling a Toyota Tundra that was, "free on entry, and tight through the center of the corners, and off" Crafton maintained a position inside the top-10 throughout the event. With every position on the track at a premium to advance into the final Round of the Chase, Crafton was able to secure a spot inside the top-five with 30 laps to go, and never looked back. The two-time NCWTS champion would cross the stripe in the third position behind race winner Daniel Suarez.
The third-place result was Crafton's sixth top-five finish in 16 starts at PIR, and allowed the Menards driver to clinch a spot in the 'Championship 4' for the NCWTS finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway next Friday night.
Matt Crafton Quote:
How were you able to race yourself into the championship battle next weekend?
"We just raced as hard as we could all night. We just kept tuning on it, and raced smart. Timothy (Peters), he had nothing to lose, he was throwing Hail Mary's without a doubt. We couldn't take any chances and get ourselves thrown out. I kept an eye on him, and the 21 (Johnny Sauter). We just raced our butts off, and we're going to Homestead."
How stressful was tonight's race?
"I promise you there wasn't a lap that wasn't tense. We drove as hard as we could from the green flag to the checkered flag. Timothy (Peters), I was proud of him. He drove, and he took the blows. He was on the outside and he was doing everything he could to get himself into the Chase. I was trying to just stay one spot behind him at all times - I knew that would put me in. We just raced hard and if we came up short, we came up short. At the end of the day, we didn't."