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Crafton’s Biggest High Was At Lowe’s

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, May 15 2009

Matt Crafton's last trip to Lowe's Motor Speedway was a good one. (RacinToday photo by David Vaughn)

Matt Crafton's last trip to Lowe's Motor Speedway was a good one. (RacinToday photo by David Vaughn)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Concord, N.C. –  The first lap of Camping World Truck Series practice on Friday morning at Lowe’s Motor Speedway was special for Matt Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet.

“When I went around the track for the first time since I’ve been to Victory Lane here… it was like, man, the last time I came off Turn Four it was a little different,” he said.

Actually it was a lot different. Last year, he came off Turn Four as a race-winner for the first time in his then 178-race truck series career.

It was especially satisfying, he said, because it meant that his Sandusky, Ohio-based Thorsports team had put a spanking on the Charlotte-based teams at their home track.

“I’d say 99 percent of these teams are based here in the Charlotte area,” he said. “Coming and doing it in their back yard was so gratifying. It was awesome to do it down here.”

This year, while he’s hopeful of continuing as the defending race champion, he’s also looking at a serious challenge for his first series title. After five races, he’s fourth in the standings, 94 markers behind leader Mike Skinner. He’s had four top-10 finishes in five races this season. His worst finish is an 11th, at Atlanta, where he ran second for most of the race before an uncooperative set of tires took him set him back.

 “We’ve run really good this year,” he said. “We’ve run every race in the top five, being able to win a race and always have something bad happen… We mess up ourselves or something.

“Martinsville was the only race where we finished where we should [eighth].”

He said he’s not a believer in the theory that luck evens out over time, and he said he’d rather be lucky than good any day, something he learned from the late Davey Allison.

But he said the best way to have racing luck is to be prepared and avoid situations that could be attributed as bad luck.

“You have to watch where you put yourself, watch who you put yourself around,” he said. “That’s where you try to race smart. When you’re racing for a championship… you have to win the war, not the battle. ”

He said that while it’s disappointing that he hasn’t been back to Victory Lane since last year at Lowe’s, he proud of what else he’s been able to do. Since then, he’s had two runner-up runs and three third-place finishes.

“We were always knocking on the door,” he said. “If you keep putting yourself in position you’re going to win races. I’ve never been one of those drivers who won a ton of races, but I know how to win races. I know how to win championships, and that’s what we were set up to do last year. Some of those races we finished second or third, we might have been able to win…..

 “If we keep doing what we’re doing we’ll be all right.”

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, May 15 2009
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