Last night at Miami Homestead Raceway Matt Crafton became the first NASCAR Camping World Back to Back Champion in that series 20 year history. Even though Matt didn’t win the race (Darrell “Bubba” Wallace did), Matt did as he has done all year and been steady on the track and held off Ryan Blaney from the title with 9th place finish.
This year alone Matt had two wins, 15 top 5 finishes and 16 top 10 finishes in only 21 races. If you wanted to know where Matt Crafton was in a race, look up front and you will see the yellow #88 Menards truck, its a fixture near the front of most races.
There were other drivers with more wins (including all the members of Kyle Busch Motorsports who won the owners title last night), but no one was more consistent and made fewer mistakes than Matt.
Matt is one of the “lifers” in the truck series, he has been a regular in the trucks series since 2000 racing for Thor Sports (the longest driver team relationship in the trucks series), and he has paid his dues. He is the Cal Ripken of truck racers with 337 consecutive starts dating back to 2000 and get this has completed over 51,000 laps (and has led 918 of those laps), in NASCAR Camping World Truck competition. For his career Matt has 76 top-five finishes & 191 top-10 finishes with seven poles.
It took 178 races for Matt to get his first win in 2008 in Charlotte and he had another consistent year in 2009 finishing second in points to Ron Hornaday, Matt was fourth for the title in 2010 but in 2011 got his next win in Iowa but didn’t have his usual consistent year and finished 8th in points and was only slightly better in 2012 with a 6th place season.
But last season is when Matt came back with an early season win in Kansas and kept the points lead all season by having 19 top 10 finishes and got his first title.
Matts’s wins this year were Martinsville & Texas and this was the first year he won multiple races.
However, in the ranks of drives with multiple championships, Matt is tied for third (Todd “Onion” Bodine also has two titles 2006 & 2010), Jack Spraugue has three titles (1997, 1999 & 2001), and the recently retired Ron Hornaday has four (1996, 1998, 2007 & 2009), but unlike Matt none of those great drivers ever won titles in consecutive seasons.
Matt has tested on the highest NASCAR level of Sprint Cup racing for Richard Childress racing for Paul Menard and has also raced four races on the mid level NASCAR Nationwide series in the # 33 Richard Childress racing car and no surprise Matt was consistent with three top tens in those four races over the last two seasons.
Matt did attempt to qualify for a NASCAR Sprint Cup race this past year (the Brickyard at Indy no less), but did not make qualification. But I don’t think that is the last we will see Matt in other levels of NASCAR because he has proven he can get to the front of the race and stay there, that’s how championships are won.
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