Crafton looking to clinch first truck title
November 04, 2013, Staff report, NASCAR.com
The so-far unsinkable Matt Crafton takes his road show to the desert this weekend with a sizable 46-point lead in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings.
His rivals might have a snowball’s chance in the Sahara of gaining ground on the series leader at Phoenix International Raceway, but plenty can happen with two races left that could either seal Crafton’s coronation or ensure that the 2013 championship fight goes down to the wire.
If he can build his lead to a 49-point cushion in Friday night’s Lucas Oil 150 (8 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1), Crafton will register an early clinching of his first series title in his 13th full year of truck competition. But he’ll have to do it at a relatively flat, one-mile track where he has just three top-five finishes (his best, a third-place effort in 2004) and has yet to lead a lap in his career.
Neither of his closest competitors, however, has inspiring Phoenix performances or experience on their side.
Defending series champion James Buescher (46 points back) hasn’t achieved a top-10 finish in three career starts at the Arizona track, and bowed from victory contention last season with right-front damage that left him settling for 17th place.
Ty Dillon -- last weekend’s winner at Texas Motor Speedway -- sits third in the standings, 47 points behind Crafton. In his only truck series start at Phoenix, however, Dillon limped to a 15th-place finish last year with similar damage.
According to the preliminary entry list, Sprint Cup Series regular Travis Kvapil, the 2003 truck series champ, is set to drive the Pam Sieg-owned No. 93 Chevy. This will be Kvapil's first truck series start of the season.
Cale Gale, who edged Kyle Busch in a fender-clanging duel in the 2012 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, is entered in a fourth Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet. This will be just his second truck series start of the season.
John Hunter Nemechek, the 16-year-old son of NASCAR veteran Joe Nemechek, is scheduled to make only his second truck series start after placing 16th at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 26. Steve Wallace, a former Nationwide Series regular and son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace, plans to make his third truck series appearance of the season.