Matt Crafton dominates at Homestead - wins truck series season finale
Making his 361st career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) start in Friday night's NCWTS 200 at Homestead-Miami (Fl.) Speedway (HMS), Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota Tundra, closed out the 23-race season in dominating fashion. The two-time and defending series champion led the field to the green for the fourth time in 2015, led a race-high 93 laps, and won the NCWTS season finale. Crafton's win at the 1.5-mile track was his first at HMS, his sixth of the season, and his fifth at a mile-and-a-half track in 2015.
Starting from the pole, Crafton led the field for the first 30 laps, complaining of a Toyota Tundra that was, "tight through the center of the corner, and off." Falling as far back as third in the running order, crew chief, Carl "Junior" Joiner, brought the No. 88 machine to pit road under green at lap 47, and under the second caution at lap 62, for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment.
Restarting second at lap 66, Crafton would exchange the lead with the No. 8 truck of John Hunter Nemechek, over the next 17 circuits, and eventually relinquish the lead at lap 84 to come down pit road, under caution, for four tires, and fuel. Varied pit strategies would force the No. 88 machine to restart seventh when the field went back to green on lap 88, but fresh tires proved to be the race winning strategy. Crafton was able to take over the top spot just one lap later, on lap 89, leading the field for the remaining 46 circuits before taking the checkered flag for the 11th time in his career.
In 23 starts in 2015, Crafton led 771 laps, a career-best in one season en route to four poles (Michigan International Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway - October, and Homestead-Miami Speedway), a career-best six wins in one season (Atlanta Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, and Homestead-Miami Speedway), 13 top-five, and 18 top-10 finishes. The reigning series champion has completed 3365 of 3455 laps attempted (97.4%), and has an Average Start of 6.6, and an Average Finish of 7.7.
On the race:
"It was a lot of fun. A lot of fun. A little bit off on the first run. Just got a little bit tight through the center of the corner, and Junior (Joiner) just made all of the right calls, and just kept working and communicating and making it a little bit better each and every time. On that last stop, the guys did a really good job, and this thing was really, really good on that last run."
On the season:
"It's just that one column - the DNF column, where we've made those mistakes. I've made mistakes, and I've wrecked us, and we've run out of fuel, and we've done just about everything this year. Just had stupid stuff get on the grill at Talladega, and we had a truck to win the race there. If you look at the last five races, with how many laps we've led, we just had a monkey on our back. We'd get it off and we're like, 'We're alright, we're going to run this down.' And then, 'Nope, it's on our back.' I'm just having a blast, to be able to say we won six races and led 700 and some laps. It's a dream season, and great to be up here in victory lane getting another trophy."
« Matt Crafton wins at Homestead, as Erik Jones captures Truck Series Championship Sauter secures a Top-10 finish in his final start for Thorsport Racing at Homestead »
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