NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Matt Crafton Comes Up Short in Quest for Truck Series Championship

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Finishing second in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings was not the plan for two-time champion Matt Crafton.

Anger flowed within Crafton following the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the driver blasting swear words as he walked into the media center Friday evening. His short, 18-word response to an opening question during the post-race press conference was all that needed to be said, at least in his mind.

After leading the championship battle through the first 115 laps, his truck faded toward the end, handing the championship to GMS Racing driver — and former teammate — Johnny Sauter.

On the final restart with 20 laps to go, Crafton restarted on the inside of the front row, next to Tyler Reddick. The No. 88 truck was the first machine on four tires, but faced an ill-handling condition, which dropped him to seventh in the finishing order.

“Johnny gave the No. 29 a really good push and we got by him, and I was a little too tight on that run,” Crafton said. “The tires on it, and we made small, small adjustments all night long. We got it better the first stop, got it better the second stop. The second-to-last stop, we got a little free in and right there on that stop it got really, really tight. That’s what killed us.”

Prior to the final caution, Sauter had caught Crafton for fourth position, but was unable to get by the No. 88 truck. The No. 21 truck and Crafton battled side-by-side for several laps and even traded some paint at one point. But the two veterans weren’t going to take each other out to win the title.

“I figured it was a matter of time,” Crafton said. “We were really bad on that last run for whatever reason. We went the wrong way and it got really tight on the last run.”

Crafton led 10 laps on the evening, all coming in the first half of the race. He finished the season with 16 top-10 finishes, tied with Timothy Peters for the least among the Championship 4. It is the fewest top 10s in a single season since 2012 for the No. 88 team.

2016 marks the third consecutive season that the No. 88 ThorSport Racing truck has been among the top three in the standings after Homestead.

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