MATT CRAFTON CROWNED CHAMP
Kyle Busch won Friday’s Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but it was Matt Crafton taking home NASCAR’s 2013 Camping World Truck Championship title for the year (photo courtesy: Jared C. Tilton, GETTY IMAGES SPORT)
Matt Crafton finished 21st to clinch the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship by 40 points over Ty Dillon in the season finale Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The championship is a first for Crafton, a California native. The season championship is also the first for his team, ThorSport Racing. Kyle Busch held off a hard charging Ryan Blaney by a margin of 0.081 seconds to win the Ford EcoBoost 200.
The thrilling race saw 13 lead changes and eight yellow flags, including an incident involving Crafton’s No. 88 Idea Door / Menards Toyota, complicating his attempt to secure the Owners Championship. Crafton’s 21st place finish left ThorSport Racing tied with Kyle Busch Motor Sports, which captured the championship by virtue of having more race wins on the season.
A disappointed Crafton said, “We wanted to get to victory lane and get the owners championship. It’s a shame. We were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Ryan Blaney captured Rookie of the Year honors, leading 67 laps and nearly stealing the victory from Busch. Blaney, 19, is the youngest rookie to win the award.
Crafton, known as “Mr. Consistency” on the track, lived up to his name by having 19 top-ten finishes and six top-five finishes this year. He also became the first driver to complete every lap in a season.
The ThorSport team also showed remarkable consistency -- its drivers lead the standings every week since the start of the year. It began with Johnny Sauter for the first three weeks, before Matt Crafton took over for the rest of the season.
Crafton was elated at the way his year turned out, “It’s been the greatest year of my life so far, to have a baby and win a NASCAR championship. Nobody can ever take that away from you.”
The championship means just as much to the owners as it does to Crafton. The win tonight marks the first championship for ThorSport Racing and its owners, Duke and Rhonda Thorson. The victory is the culmination of years of perseverance and some luck from the Sandusky, Ohio based team that ended its best year to date. After the race, Crafton praised Duke and his team, “Guys are coming to Ohio to work with us. This win shows that you don’t need to be in North Carolina to win a championship.”
The Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 kicked of Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Ford EcoBoost 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series finale takes place on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. EDT, with only eight points separating drivers Sam Hornish Jr. and Austin Dillon.
The NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup concludes on Sunday night as Jimmie Johnson looks to hold off challengers Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick to win his sixth title.
Tickets are going fast for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400. Tickets also remain for the other prominent NASCAR championship race during Ford Championship Weekend – Saturday afternoon’s Ford EcoBoost 300, the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship finale.