Jul 21, 2013; Joliet, IL, USA; NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Matt Crafton (33) during qualifying for the STP 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

NCWTS: Crafton Closes in on First Championship


For thirteen years, Matt Crafton has been competing in what is now called the Camping World Truck Series. Thirteen years and a long road to his first Championship in one of NASCAR’s premiere leagues.

A road that has not been easy to travel, Crafton is one of those racers that has had to earn everything he has gotten. As a young driver, his family didn’t have the money to spend on top-notch and new equipment. Instead, they settled for hand-me-down cars and homemade chassis. The 2000 Southwest Tour Champion had to practice many times on old race tires and his father would bargain for a new set.

“I remember one thing my dad always said: ‘You run good enough this week, you’ll get a practice set of tires next week,’ ” Crafton told NASCAR.com

Nowadays, that isn’t the case. Crafton currently sits 46-points ahead of Ty Dillon and is well on his way to hoisting up the Champions trophy on Friday.

Crafton is coming to be called “Mr. Consistency” in the garage after finishing outside of the top-10 only twice this season. How close is Crafton to clinching the title? He only needs to start the race at Homestead-Miami.

Driving the No.88 for ThorSport Racing, Crafton’s only teammate Johnny Sauter has three wins this season yet sits 77-points behind him. Crafton has one win this season coming at Kansas bringing his total wins in his Truck Series career to just three. Crafton told NASCAR.com that the reason he is so consistent is because he always had to work for what he had.

“I’ve never had everything given to me. I’ve always had to take care of what I had, from when I was a kid racing go-karts to micro-midgets to late models. You go out there and tear it up, you don’t get to race next week. I guess it teaches you to take care of your stuff a little bit more. Yes, maybe if I were more aggressive and a little more wild, maybe I could have won a few more races. But at the same time, I might have been out of a job if the owner says, ‘This guy tears up too much stuff.’ That’s just the way I was raised, to take care of your stuff.”

All of his hard work and patience is about to pay off in a big way. For Matt Crafton, this championship isn’t just for him, but for his father Danny who has stood by his side since his first race as a child.

“I think about it every day,” Danny Crafton said. “Coming from that little town in (Bakersfield) California, we got here.”

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