Get the latest Matt Crafton news, media, stats, and standings for the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver only on the official site of NASCAR.
Get the latest Matt Crafton news, media, stats, and standings for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver only on the official site of NASCAR.
Get the latest Matt Crafton news, media, stats, and standings for the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver only on the official site of NASCAR.
Becomes first driver to win back-to-back titles in Camping World Truck Series RELATED: Wallace Jr. wins Ford EcoBoost 200 HOMESTEAD, Fla. – After becoming the first driver to ever win consecutive NASCAR Camping World Truck Series titles, Matt Crafton could talk about making history. "Definitely an awesome feeling," Crafton said, after joining Ron Hornaday Jr ., Todd Bodine and Jack Sprague as the only drivers to win the NCWTS crown more than once. "To be on the list with those guys is unreal. To say that I've done it back-to-back and no one has done that, it's such a good, good feeling." But Crafton , sitting between crew chief (Carl) Junior Joiner and ThorSport Racing General Manager David Pepper, wasn't about to take all the credit. "To say I made history is definitely very, very cool. But it's all about the guys that are behind me. Without them, I'm just an average race car driver at best." Completing his 14th full season, Crafton , 38, has run his entire NCWTS career for Sandusky, Ohio-based ThorSport and owners Duke and Rhonda Thorson. "The very first time I sat down with Duke at the end of 2000 he told me going to run this like a business," Crafton recalled. "He said: 'We're going to make it better and better each year but I'm not going to outspend myself or go away in two or three years. I'm going to be an owner who will be around for the long haul. If you want to stick it out with me, we'll win races and win championships.' " Stick it out, Crafton did. He didn't win a race until 2008, finished no higher than fifth in the point standings until 2009 and didn't win two races in a season until this year when he triumphed at Martinsville and Texas. "That's what makes it so much sweeter to be where we are today," Crafton said. "We didn't have all the resources and all the tools that we have today. I'd say (Duke) has been a man of his word – as has Rhonda – since the day I met him." Crafton said that after winning his first title a year ago, he promised Joiner the team would lead more laps and win more races in 2014. "We led more laps and won two races," he said. "We had the capability to win more if we didn't have bad luck in the middle part of the season. It's a damn shame, because I feel we should have won at least five races, without a doubt." But Crafton is hardly complaining. "I think I'm the luckiest man on earth," he said. "I'm getting paid to do what I love. I'm getting paid to drive a race car." Crafton entered Friday's Ford EcoBoost 200 with a relatively comfortable 25-point lead on Ryan Blaney . He knew that a finish of 21st or better in the 36-truck field would get the job done. He finished ninth, good enough to finish 21 points ahead of Blaney, who persevered for a fifth-place finish despite finishing the race with vise-grips replacing his broken shifter. He also raced cautiously throughout the first half of the race, maintaining a low line to keep a safe distance from the wall while maintaining his spot within the top 10. Any hope Blaney had virtually disintegrated during the fourth caution period of the race. The 20-year-old, who had been running second for much of the early going, suffered that shifter problem and dropped all the way to 15th on the restart. "That was one of the worst trucks we've had all year," Blaney said. "I can't believe we (managed to) finish fifth. That was tough." Kyle Larson led 96 of the first 100 laps and ended up chasing Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Darrell Wallace Jr . to the finish line in the closing laps. Wallace, driving the No. 54 Tundra, was thrilled to finally "beat the boss." Kyle Busch Motorsports captured its third NCWTS owner's championship in five seasons (second consecutively). Erik Jones made 12 starts and Busch drove 10 races in the No. 51 Toyota Tundra, which edged ThorSport and Crafton for the owner’s title by 24 points. "It's a great milestone for us," said Busch, who is ineligible to race for the driver's championship because he is a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitor. "It's what we can race for. We've had a lot of people come to KBM to work who have stayed a long time. Some move on to other things. That's really what the Truck Series is all about: a proving ground and a growing series." Wallace's victory gave KBM 14 wins for the season and provided Toyota with 18 triumphs, tying Chevrolet’s 2010 mark for most wins in a single season. Ben Kennedy was named NCWTS Sunoco Rookie of the Year, despite settling for 17th in his No. 31 Chevrolet. "We weren't really all that great tonight," Kennedy said, "but it pays off for the whole season we put together. It's a testament to this team and how hard the guys at Turner Scott Motorsports worked. When we were on, we were really on – up there with the top dogs. When we were off, we struggled a little bit, but we worked hard and we worked together to make the most out of each position and each lap." Kennedy held off Tyler Reddick (sixth in his No. 19 Ford on Friday) for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, based in part on each team's 14 best finishes of the season. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Crafton made history by becoming the first Truck Series driver to win consecutive titles Nov. 14: Crafton wins second straight Truck Series title With two wins in the season and a series-best 13 top-fives, Matt Crafton became the first driver to win back-to-back titles in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. " Read more Sept. 13: Truck points race turns on a dime in Chicago Staying out of trouble when everyone else suffered on the track is what boosted Crafton to take over the Truck Series points lead coming out of Chicagoland. He trailed Johnny Sauter by seven points entering the race but would lead the standings the rest of the season. " Read more June 6: Texas-sized victory Crafton put an end to his 13-year, 26-race winless streak at Texas Motor Speedway when he grabbed the checkered flag at the Fort Worth track when gambling with fuel mileage worked in his favor. " Read more May 30: Crafton sees streak end at Dover In 2013 Crafton made history by being the only driver to finish every lap of a race in a season, but that streak ended along with his points lead in 2014 at Dover when he hit the wall with less than 50 laps to go. " Read more March 30: Crafton holds off Wallace Jr., wins Kroger 250 It came down to the very last stretch when Crafton beat polesitter Wallace Jr. to the start/finish line at Martinsville as the race went under yellow because of a last-lap accident. " Read more Jan. 14: ThorSport excels in second-day testing at Daytona Prior to the start of the 2014 season, testing was held at Daytona International Speedway and Crafton , along with the rest of his ThorSport team, ran at the top of the leaderboard, showing their 2014 strength and speed early. " Read more Nov. 15, 2013: Crafton claims 2013 championship After driving full-time in the Camping World Truck Series for 13 years, Crafton finally secured his first title. The Truck Series champ led Ty Dillon by 46 points going into the finale and only needed to start the race at Homestead-Miami to clinch the championship. " Read more MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
2013 champion holds 25-point lead over Blaney heading into season finale HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Matt Crafton 's drive to his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series crown last season had all the characteristics of being a walkover -- a huge lead, loads of consistency and needing only to hold service in the season finale. This year, he's in a similar position, but his advantage in the standings is just 25 points compared to a commanding 46-point edge in 2013. Conventional wisdom might say that this year's pressure would outrank this year's, but Crafton -- who carried the weight of trying not to fritter away an enormous points lead last year -- isn't feeling it. "I feel a ton less pressure on me," said Crafton , a two-time winner this season. "There is not one sleepless night that I've worried about if we're going to win this championship, how can we screw this thing up, how can we lose this thing. Last year every two hours I'd wake up from about midseason on, but now if it's meant to be it will be. It's all about having fast trucks and we've had some very, very fast race trucks this year. That starts with Junior (Carl Joiner, crew chief) and every one of the guys from there on down at the shop." Crafton , who's been adamant in keeping mum about points or clinch scenarios, will need to finish 21st or better to become the only back-to-back champion in the series' 20-year history in Friday night's Ford EcoBoost 200 (8 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Ryan Blaney , the only challenger with a mathematical shot at the championship, needs to couple a victory in the season finale with a disastrous finish from Crafton , something that's been a rarity this year. The 38-year-old Crafton has posted similar stats this season vs. 2013, but in some regards the performance from his ThorSport Racing team has been even stronger. Crafton has two wins this year versus one last season, has led more laps (298 vs. 87) and has more top-five finishes (13 vs. 7). The increase has done wonders for Crafton's confidence, to say nothing of his sleeping patterns. "I think Matt hit the nail on the head when he said last year that we don't want to be the boneheads to lose a 50-point lead," Joiner said. "We just did everything right and made sure that we showed up with something strong and Matt did it best. We didn't turn a fifth-place truck into a third-place, we took our fifth and we went home and worked on it the next week. When we finished seventh or eighth, same thing stood. He didn't put himself in a position to be the boneheads and lose 50 points. "This year I feel like from a manufacturer's standpoint, we are a lot closer now. I feel like we are showcasing a lot more speed because we've done our homework over the winter and we've built fast trucks." At 20 years, 10 months and 14 days of age on Friday, Blaney stands to become the youngest champion in series history. Though he remains a long shot, a breakthrough title would be a special parting gift to his Brad Keselowski Racing team; he'll compete full-time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series next season and will run a partial schedule with the Wood Brothers team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series . "Even if we don't win the championship, it's been a great year," Blaney said. "I'd be more disappointed if we came here with the lead and then lose it, then you're really disappointed. We have to be realistic about our goals; we're 25 points back and he has to have some problems. If we don't win the championship, I'm going to do the best I can to win the race and that's what I'm gunning for." Two other important races remain in limbo heading into the Homestead finale. The Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 Toyota -- with driving duties split this season between the owner/driver and teen phenom Erik Jones -- holds an 18-point edge over the ThorSport No. 88 in the team owner standings. In the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contest, 22-year-old Ben Kennedy carries a slim three-point advantage over Tyler Reddick , 18, into the season-ending 200-miler. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Best of Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series honored MORE: Best photos from NNS, NCWTS banquet DORAL, Fla. -- NASCAR's first year celebrating its Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series awards banquet at the Trump National Doral Miami feted one of the sport's newest champions and a repeat victor Monday night. But before the festivities came into full swing, it included a warm-up by the resort's namesake. The day after the thrilling conclusion to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Chase Elliott and Matt Crafton -- stock-car racing's other national series champions -- took center stage Monday as the toast of the glitzy Donald J. Trump Ballroom. But before their speeches and moments of remembrance, "The Donald" himself gave the industry a warm welcome. "I didn't watch a minute of the NFL yesterday," Trump said about Sunday's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "I watched NASCAR. You're much more brave." Participants in both series donned their formal best Monday evening, celebrating the accolades of two seasons of racing that began in February at Daytona. Those assembled at the 62 tables cheered the contributions of departing entitlement sponsor Nationwide and longtime broadcast partner ESPN, but also paid tribute to two deserving champions. Elliott's first full season in a NASCAR national series was welcomed with a championship in what will become the NASCAR XFINITY Series next year. But it also came with a surprise honor in the form of the series' most popular driver award. His father, NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Bill Elliott , was a 16-time winner of the NMPA Most Popular Driver Award in NASCAR's premier series. "This is really cool," Elliott said after accepting the award. "I got to do this in the K&N Series. To know you have the support of a lot of great fans across the United States when you do as much racing as we have this season, it's been really, really cool to see that at home and on the road, as far away as California. Just thanks to everybody who made it possible." Crafton's return to the head table came by virtue of his second straight title, a historic first for the Camping World Truck Series. Last season his heart-tugging acceptance speech took several emotional turns; this year, a quip beforehand about his 1 1/2-year-old daughter, Elladee, helped him channel his inner comic. "She's been around two years and I've won two truck series championships," Crafton said. "Why'd I wait so long to have kids?" Ryan Blaney , the truck series' runner-up this year, brought home the most popular driver award in the Camping World Truck Series but waved off making an acceptance speech. "That was cool. Maybe they were all Canadians," Blaney said, making reference to winning over the crowd with his stirring victory Labor Day weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park . "So I've got that going for me." The Team Penske No. 22 Ford (Nationwide) and Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 51 Toyota (trucks) were honored for their team owner championships in their respective series. Sprint Cup regular Kyle Busch (Nationwide) also claimed top honors in the year-end Keystone Light and Coors Light Pole Awards, leading both series in the number of poles this season. Busch was also lauded with the Mobil 1 Driver of the Year in the truck series. Kyle Larson won the award in the Nationwide Series. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Matt Crafton and ThorSport general manager David Pepper talk about tomorrow’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway as Crafton races to be the first driver in NASCAR history to win back-to-back championships in the Camping World Truck Series.
Matt Crafton becomes the first driver in NASCAR history to win back-to-back Camping World Truck Series titles.
2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton gives an acceptance speech during the end-of-season banquet at the Trump National Doral Miami.