ON THE CLOCK: Matt Crafton and the No. 88 Menards/Ideal Door team are back to work as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to the shortest track on the schedule, Martinsville Speedway. Crafton will be making his 21st-career start at the track, which is celebrating its 65th season of competition this year. In his 20 previous starts at the 'paperclip,' Crafton has earned 2 top-five and 10 top-10 finishes and one pole, but he is seeking his first grandfather clock trophy at the historic facility.
OFF THE RECORD: Although Crafton has never visited victory lane at Martinsville Speedway, he holds an impressive record at the 0.526-mile oval. Crafton broke the track's NCWTS qualifying record when he laid down a pole-winning lap of 19.653 seconds (96.352 mph) last fall. Crafton also hopes to continue ThorSport Racing's pole streak at the track. Last year, the organization swept the pole for both races at Martinsville in 2011.
JUST MARRIED: Just two months after serving as best man in Crafton's wedding to new wife Ashley, crew chief Junior Joiner tied the knot himself shortly after the race in Daytona. Joiner married wife Deidra in a ceremony in his home state of California on March 10th.
COME SAY 'HI': Crafton and his ThorSport Racing teammates Johnny Sauter and Dakoda Armstrong will be appearing at the NCWTS autograph session this weekend in Martinsville. The session will be held on Friday, March 30th from 4:00-5:00 PM ET by the track's main ticket office outside the track behind Richard Petty Tower.
CHASSIS HISTORY: The No. 88 team will utilize chassis No. 34 this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. This is the same chassis that Crafton drove to his record-setting qualifying run and pole award at the track in the fall. Last season, Crafton drove chassis No. 34 to 11th and 12th-place finishes, respectively, in the spring and fall visits to Martinsville.
PREVIOUS RACE RECAP: After remaining damage-free beyond the scheduled length of the caution-filled NextEra Energy Resources 250, Crafton's No. 88 Menards/Ideal Door Toyota was rocketing to the front when he fell victim to "the big one" on the second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. Crafton had avoided multiple major incidents and appeared to be on his way to a top five when he was collected in a massive pileup just shy of the white flag, relegating him to a 23rd-place finish at Daytona International Speedway.
THOUGHTS FROM THE DRIVER: Matt Crafton
What are your thoughts on Martinsville Speedway?
"There is nothing more important at Martinsville Speedway than track position. You're in close quarters on a small, flat track, so every single spot is crucial. Qualifying plays such a big role in the race because that initial starting position can make all the difference in how you finish. Last year, we showed just how fast this truck can qualify, so I'm hoping we can do the same thing this time. Maybe we can go out there and break our own record."
How have you spent all this down time since the season-opener in Daytona?
"Pretty typical of me, there wasn't much 'down time' in the weeks we've had off since Daytona. I went out to California for Junior's wedding a few days after we left Daytona and was out there for a couple weeks. I spent some time at the shop in Sandusky and I've had a few appearances at Menards stores in Wisconsin and Minnesota, so I've been up north quite a bit. I also spent some time working with Travis Pastrana in the last few weeks, and there's been a couple SPEED shoots mixed in there too, so it's actually been a pretty busy month. It's like that a lot when we get time off, I still wind up traveling all over the place. Sometimes it seems like I get to spend more time at home when we're racing."