Crafton looking for first LVMS victory in Saturday's Rhino Linings 350
Matt Crafton comes into Saturday's Rhino Linings 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the series points leader, but the Tulare, Calif. native hopes this weekend goes much smoother than last week.
Although Crafton finished third a week ago at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to extend his lead to seven points over ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter, the day did not go the way Crafton had hoped.
Crafton was not able to make an attempt in the knockout-style qualifying at New Hampshire after his team discovered a loose battery plug before qualifying. His crew fixed the problem before qualifying started, but Crafton was relegated to the back of the 30-truck grid to start the race for making the unapproved adjustment.
Crafton drove from the back of the field and led for 20 laps before a series of late-race restarts resulted in a third-place showing.
"That definitely wasn't what we wanted, but at the same time it was very good that we found it when we did and not start the race in a dead end," Crafton told NASCAR.com. "We were very lucky there but just super disappointed in the finish."
While upset with the way things transpired in New Hampshire, Crafton's spirits were lifted when he realized Las Vegas Motor Speedway was the next stop on the circuit. Although he has yet to win a Truck Series race at LVMS, Crafton has posted six top-10 finishes - including runner-up efforts in 2009, 2011 and 2012 - in 12 career starts.
"The track is rough, but that's one of the best things about racing at Las Vegas," he said. "It's got multiple grooves - not everybody's riding around on the bottom. The asphalt's not real new, but it's fairly new, and I think because it's so rough, you move around quite a bit. I really like racing out there and going out there - it's on the West Coast so I get to see a lot of my friends and family."
Crafton, who finished 11th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last year, went on to win his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship and is looking to become the first driver in series history to win back-to-back championships.
The Rhino Linings 350 will take the green flag Saturday at 7 p.m. Qualifying for the 146-lap race will begin at 3:40 p.m. and a free driver autograph session will be held in the Neon Garage from 2 to 2:45 p.m. The players from the Mountain Ridge Little League All-Stars, the first team in Nevada history to qualify for the Little League World Series last month, will serve as the grand marshals for the race. Neon Garage access is free with each ticket.
Following the Rhino Linings 350, fans are encouraged to stay in their seats for a fireworks display.
Tickets for the 18th annual Rhino Linings 350 are available by calling 702-644-4444 or by visiting www.lvms.com.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rhino Linings 350
September 27 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Saturday, Sept. 27
Ticket gate C and Neon Garage open at 9 a.m.
Ticket gates A, B, D, E, G, Blackjack Club and VIP suites open at 3 p.m.
9 a.m. - Ticket gate C and Neon Garage opens. Neon Garage open to all guests.
9-10:15 a.m. - NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rhino Linings 350 practice.
10:45 a.m.-noon - Final NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rhino Linings 350 practice.
12:15-5:30 p.m. - Minors permitted in garage area.
2-2:45 p.m. - Driver autograph session, Neon Garage.
3 p.m. - Ticket gates A, B, D, E, G, Blackjack Club and VIP suites open.
3:40 p.m. - NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rhino Linings 350 qualifying.
6:30 p.m. - NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rhino Linings 350 driver introductions.
7 p.m. - NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rhino Linings 350 (146 laps, 219 miles).
9 p.m. - Neon Garage closes.
(Schedule is subject to change.)