Rain Keeps Trucks Garaged, Crafton Happy At CMS
By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – Matt Crafton’s wish for rain to continue Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway was granted, forcing cancellation of practice at the 1.5-mile track where the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion tested two weeks ago.
“We feel like we have a pretty good balance on it,” Crafton said of his Toyota Tundra. “There are a few of these teams that have pretty fast trucks that didn’t come to the test so I hope it rains the rest of the day.”
Torrential rain hit the speedway Thursday afternoon and a tornado warning for the area was issued by the National Weather Service. A flash flood watch also was in effect until 6 a.m. Friday. The weather was supposed to clear out of the area Thursday night and no rain was expected for NASCAR’s All-Star weekend.
The trucks had been scheduled to practice from 4-6 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Thursday in preparation for Friday’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200. Due to Thursday’s cancellation, NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said truck practice would be an hour longer on Friday, going from 10 a.m. – noon. The rest of Friday’s schedule remained the same.
Even though Charlotte and Kansas speedways are both 1.5-mile tracks, Crafton doesn’t believe Friday night’s race at Charlotte will resemble last week’s wreck-fest at Kansas.
“The tire is a lot grippier and the track is starting to wear out so you’re going to be able to run side-by-side a lot better tomorrow night,” Crafton said about the historic Charlotte track. “The biggest reason why you saw so many wrecks last week is the track had all the grip in the world and the tire was really hard and you’re relying 100 percent on aero; aero that’s holding you down and when you do get in traffic they shut off.”
Darrell Wallace Jr. usually gets rid of damaged race cars and/or their pieces as quickly as possible, but that wasn’t the case when it came to a Charlotte Motor Speedway Toyota Camry pace car. He still possesses a piece of the rear window that he blew out while giving pace car rides.
“We were supposed to go 80 and we went like 120 with me, (Joey) Logano and Brian Scott,” Wallace said. “The light off the top came through the back window so I took a piece of glass to remind myself of how dumb that was, and luckily I didn’t have to pay for it.”
Ben Kennedy, who currently leads the rookie standings in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series, said the test session in which he participated two weeks ago was the first time he had ever been on the Charlotte track. He also noted that in Thursday’s rookie meeting one of the main topics was the track’s temperature sensitivity.
“We really saw that during the test,” Kennedy said. “Lap times would sometimes vary eight- to nine-tenths of a second from the day to the night. It wasn’t really a hot day or a cold night. It was just from the sun being out and … the track getting hot and slick. I think it’s going to play a big factor in our whole thought process.”
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