Camping World Trucks - Crafton Race Report - Texas
FORT WORTH, November 5, 2011: Matt Crafton earned a fifth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway after handling issues plagued the No. 88 Menards/Fisher Nuts team for a majority of the evening. Falling as far back as 18th, Crafton rallied back from outside the top 10 in the closing laps, bringing home his fifth top-five of 2011.
Taking the green flag from the 11th position, Crafton quickly slipped to the 15th spot in the opening 10 laps of the WinStar World Casino 350k. Crafton immediately relayed to crew chief Bud Haefele that the handling of the Menards/Fisher Nuts machine was erratic in traffic, handling too tightly one lap and running loose the next. The team would have their first chance to adjust the No. 88 on lap 15 when the first yellow flag of the day waved, and Crafton brought his truck down pit road for four tires, an air-pressure adjustment and a top-off on fuel.
Scored in 17th when green-flag racing resumed, Crafton once again radioed the his crew to tell them that he truck still needed help center up off. Working his way up to 13th by the caution on lap 34, Crafton once again brought the No. 88 down pit road for fuel and a track-bar adjustment. Emerging from the pits in the sixth position, Crafton was still fighting the handling of the Menards/Fisher Nuts truck when the field went green on lap 37, and he once again slipped outside the top 10. Stating that the truck was pushing on entry and snapping loose "violently" on exit, Crafton would fall back as far as 18th before working his way back into 10th when the yellow waved for a wreck on lap 99. The yellow gave the No. 88 team what would be their chance to adjust their truck, taking four fresh tires, fuel and yet another track-bar adjustment.
Restarting in the 10th position, Crafton maintained his spot over the course of a long green-flag run, which ended with the last caution of the night on lap 142. While under yellow, a competitor pitted in front of him and another ran out of fuel, positioning Crafton in eighth for the green-white-checkered restart. When the green flag waved, Crafton darted through a flurry of activity with a solid restart. Getting a good run and dodging a truck running out of fuel, Crafton took over the fourth position by the first turn of green flag racing, surrendering only one spot before taking the checkered in fifth place.
"We made so many changes tonight, it was unreal," said Crafton after the race. "We made it better by the end, but still never got the truck perfect. We were definitely chasing the handling and we never seemed to make much headway. I have to thank my guys, who just kept working on this truck every time we came in to try and make it better. I was trying to help my teammate Johnny Sauter with position there on the restart, but I probably would have wrecked us both if I'd lifted at all to let him get by me. It was a wild final restart and it was a great finish considering some of the handling issues we faced."
Crafton remains seventh in the driver point standings, 95 points behind the championship leader and 37 points behind fifth place. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series enjoys one final off week before heading to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the season finale on November 18th.