Truck Series Season Review
By: John Singler - @JohnSingler2 on November 22, 2013 | 1:38 P.M. EST
Sprint Cup Series regular Kyle Busch won a series-best five races while Matt Crafton took home his first series championship. (Photo: Getty Images)
But most of all, it’ll stand as a testimonial to the consistency of Matt Crafton – who drove the No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota to his first championship.
Crafton, 37, amassed 19 top-10 finishes in his 22 starts – including a run of 16 straight to open the season. He took over first place in the standings in late April and was never bumped out of the top spot. No one got closer than 13 points to Crafton, whose lone victory of the season came at Kansas Speedway.
“It’s an honor to drive this truck, and give Duke and Rhonda Thorson (team owners) their first championship,” said Crafton, who bested runner-up Ty Dillon by 40 points. “I’m just the one that gets to celebrate and look like a hero because I got to drive a great truck all year.”
Crafton is the 13th champion in the 19-year history of the series and the first driver to complete every lap run in every race.
2013 was Crafton’s 13th full-time season in the series but the first for a number of richly talented rookies including Jeb Burton, Ryan Blaney and Darrell Wallace Jr. All three finished among the top 10 in the final point standings, with Blaney being named Rookie of the Year.
Driving for Brad Keselowski Racing, Blaney – who will celebrate his 20th birthday next month – had 13 top-10 finishes in 22 starts including a victory at Pocono Raceway. He’s the son of Sprint Cup Series veteran Dave Blaney.
Burton … another second-generation racer, the son of 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton … also found his way to Victory Lane in 2013 at Texas Motor Speedway. He led the series with seven poles; setting track qualifying records at Martinsville Speedway, Rockingham Speedway and Michigan International Speedway in his Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet.
Wallace matched Blaney and Burton in the win column, driving the No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota to victory in the final short-track race of the season last month at Martinsville Speedway.
In fact, five drivers in all scored their first career win during this season: Blaney, Burton, Wallace, Chase Elliott and Erik Jones – who became the series’ youngest winner ever at 17 years old with his victory earlier this month at Phoenix International Raceway.
There were two new venues on the schedule in 2013: the half-mile dirt oval at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario – where Elliott grabbed his win with a last-lap bump and pass of Ty Dillon.
The historic stop at Eldora on July 24 marked NASCAR’s first nationally sanctioned dirt race since 1970. Austin Dillon, Ty’s older brother, led a race-high 64 laps – including the final 31 through an overtime restart – to claim the victory. Prior to the Mudsummer Classic, NASCAR’s last national race on dirt took place in Raleigh, N.C., in 1970 … 20 years before Dillon was born.
Sprint Cup Series regular Kyle Busch, who was not eligible to collect individual Truck Series championship points, won a series-best five races and also won the owners’ championship with his No. 51 Toyota.
And with 13 race wins in 22 events, Toyota took home the Manufacturers’ Championship. It was Jones’ victory at Phoenix – in the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Tundra – that clinched the auto maker’s sixth title in 10 years.