Matt Crafton takes rain-delayed Truck Series victory at Charlotte
Matt Crafton won the rain-delayed N.C. Education Lottery 200 Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, giving him back-to-back wins in the Camping World Truck Series for the first time in the two-time series champion’s career.
The race, originally scheduled for Friday night, was delayed until Saturday afternoon by rain — and Crafton’s No. 88 truck ended up being the one the rest of the field attempted chasing under a sunny, clear-blue sky.
Despite winning a week earlier at Dover, Crafton was not that confident entering the race — based on practice time that was limited by the inclement weather and the fact that his truck was not performing close to his liking.
"The crazy part about it is we didn’t make a whole lot of changes (during the race)," Crafton told FOX Sports in Victory Lane. "We made a lot of changes (Friday) night. Two nights ago (on Thursday), Junior (crew chief Carl Joiner) and I went to dinner and sat up until about 11 o’clock and thought of a ton of things. We got a list of probably 20 different things — and I think he changed about 15 of 20 of those.
"He got about halfway through the list of changes he was telling me about (on Friday) and I told him, ‘I’m good. I don’t want to know any more that you did to it.’ Because we were, honestly, off at Dover in practice — but this was the worst we had been in a long time in practice. And they made wholesale changes to this thing."
Crafton led a race-high 47 laps, but like most of the rest of the drivers he had to pit for a splash of fuel to make it to the end.
After giving up the lead with 11 to go, he quickly cycled back into the lead seven laps later when he passed a slowing Johnny Sauter, who had attempted to stretch his fuel to the end and was fearful of running out of gas if he ran full throttle.
Earlier, Crafton made a pair of pit-road miscues that he had to overcome.
"The first one, I slid through the box and just had a goofy pit box there," Crafton said. "And then I had another one, but this Menards Toyota Tundra was right there at the end."
Kyle Busch ended up taking second, with Sauter eventually hanging on for third. Tyler Reddick and Matt Tifft rounding out the top five on a day when several trucks ended up facing a fuel-mileage dilemma as the race came to its conclusion.
Busch led 27 laps earlier in the race, but had to work his way back through traffic after pitting late for fuel. He said afterward that his truck just wasn’t as good late in the race as it was earlier.
"I don’t know, something happened when we got back in traffic and I got super, super tight like it was laying on the splitter or something," Busch said. "I don’t know if something came out of place on the front end or what.
"Just proud of the effort — this is a fourth-team deal (at Kyle Busch Motorsports) and it’s not an A-plus deal. We have some work to do on this one to get it a lot better for where we need to be."
The victory was the 13th series win for Crafton in his career, and his second on the 1.5-mile Charlotte track. He earned his first career win at CMS in 2008.
Crafton admitted it was special being able to beat Busch, the defending Sprint Cup Series champion who often dominates when he dips down to compete in the Truck Series.
“It was definitely very, very good to be able to beat him. He’s won a lot of races here and anybody who can beat Kyle Busch in one of these Truck races, you’re doing something," Crafton said. "And I definitely know that we beat him today.”