Saturday, Jul 02

Matt Crafton Rolls Snake Eyes in Sin City with Second-Place Finish

Matt Crafton scored a second-place finish in a caution-filled race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, earning his 12th top-10 finish of 2011. After fighting handling issues early in the race and running as far back as 19th, the team perfected the No. 88 Menards/Ideal Door Chevrolet Silverado by the end of the event, charging to the front of the pack and coming up just shy of a win in the first Vegas day race in nine years.

After laying down the fastest lap in opening practice, Crafton qualified the No. 88 Menards/Ideal Door Chevrolet in the fifth starting spot. Taking the green flag, it took only three laps before the caution flag was displayed for the first of 10 times. Scored in the fourth position when the yellow flew, Crafton shot to the second spot immediately after the restart. Despite the fact that Crafton was extremely competitive in turns one and two, the No. 88 was growing increasingly tight in turns three and four.

Still scored in second when the second caution flag of the day waved on lap 13, wild racing on the lap 16 restart pushed Crafton back to eighth by the following lap. When a hot, slippery racetrack led to yet another caution on lap 23, Crafton brought the No. 88 to pit road for two right-side tires and fuel. Taking the green from the ninth spot on lap 28, another caution slowed the field just three laps later and allowed Crafton to take left-side tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment.

Unfortunately, the adjustments to the truck overcorrected its tight condition, and Crafton found the No. 88 to be extremely loose with a vibration, feeling an imbalance in the new tires. However, Crafton would have the chance to once again bring the truck in for adjustments when the yellow flag waved again on lap 42. Crew chief Bud Haefele called Crafton to pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment before sending him back on the track. Topping off the No. 88 just before the green, Crafton was 19th when the field went green on lap 46.

It appeared that the adjustments were exactly what Crafton needed as the No. 88 came to life on the racetrack. On a mission to reach the front of the pack, Crafton was back in the top five by lap 81, and by lap 105 Crafton was running second and closing in on the leader. A long run led to green-flag pit stops for the field, and Crafton brought his truck to pit road on lap 109 for the final stop of the day. Taking four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment, Crafton returned to the track in the fifth spot before stops cycled through and he regained second place.

A rash of late-race cautions tightened the field on the restarts, but Crafton duked it out with his competitors, running in second as the laps wound down. Despite his truck tightening on the final run, he still crept up to within truck lengths of the leader before taking the checkered flag from second.

"This was a great race today," said Crafton after emerging from his truck. "We fell back at the beginning, but me and the guys never gave up. We just kept adjusting on the No. 88 Menards/Ideal Door Chevrolet until we got it right. We were just a little tight there on that last run, otherwise, I have no doubt that we would be in victory lane. We probably could have done it if we had just a few more laps. This was really a lot of fun. If it was up to me, every race would be a day race. I love racing when it's hot and everyone is slipping and sliding. It was really slippery out there and I had a blast."

Crafton gained two positions in the driver point standings, now holding the sixth position, 58 points outside the championship lead.

ThorSport PR


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