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Crafton claims 2013 Truck Series championship

November 15, 2013, Staff report, NASCAR.com

ThorSport Racing driver earns first NASCAR national series championship

RELATED: Results | Final standings: Drivers | Owners | Manufacturers

Matt Crafton clinched the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship Friday night when he took the green flag at the Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The 37-year-old ThorSport Racing veteran led Ty Dillon by 46 points entering the finale; all Crafton needed to clinch the title was to start the race. Firing his engine and rolling onto the track, Crafton started the race in the eighth position on the grid before finishing 21st after being involved in a wreck on the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish.

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"It’s an honor," an emotional Crafton said after the race. "To be able to do it for (team owners) Duke and Rhonda Thorson that have been doing this for 18 years and give them their first championship … and me driving for them for 13 years full time … for (sponsor) Menards and all the people that have been behind me, and every one of these guys that work on this truck, it’s an honor to be able to give them this championship. These guys are the ones that work so hard. I’m just the one who gets to celebrate and look like a hero, because I get to drive a great truck all year."

Crafton led 12 laps in the race, but was involved in a multicar wreck on the first attempt of a green-white-checkered finish.

His No. 88 Toyota was damaged and needed attention on pit road before the battered vehicle returned to the track hoping to cement an owners championship as well.

Crafton finished 21st, and Kyle Busch won the race in the No. 51 -- his Kyle Busch Motorsports team would claim the owners championship on a tiebreaker (most wins).

For Crafton, his title capped a remarkable season for the Californian, who's been a full-time driver in the Truck Series for 13 years. Entering Homestead, Crafton had one win, seven top-fives and 19 top-10s in 21 races. He recorded a top-10 in the first 16 races of the season.

His one victory came at Kansas, the fourth race of the season, and it put Crafton atop the series points standings -- he never relinquished that spot.

Prior to this year, Crafton's best finish in the Camping World Truck Series was a second-place finish to Ron Hornaday Jr. in 2009, the year in which Hornaday won his fourth series championship.

There's a chance for a repeat in 2014, too. Earlier this week, ThorSport Racing announced Crafton would come back for a 10th consecutive season in the No. 88 Toyota.

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