Defending NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series champion Matt Crafton is looking forward to the tracks that lie ahead in the Round of 8 in the Playoffs.
Crafton enters Saturday’s Clean Harbors 200 (MRN, 3:30 p.m. ET) at Kansas as the seventh seed. Including his three wins at Kansas, Crafton has combined for seven wins at tracks in the Round of 8 with Texas and Martinsville to follow in the next two weeks.
The last time the series visited Kansas was for a doubleheader in July where Crafton took the win in the second race. It also was the last in a stretch of four consecutive top fives that month.
"That middle part of the season was really good for us," Crafton said. "We had a lot of speed. We finished fourth in the first race in the doubleheader and then won there. Then right before that we went on that stretch of top-three finishes at Kentucky and Texas. Had a lot of momentum going there and our mile-and-a-half program is very good right now. So really looking forward to that."
When it comes to 1.5-mile tracks this season, Crafton ranks third in average finish (8.9) among all drivers that have competed in the nine races so far. He is the only to record top 10s in each of the last six, including a ninth-place run in the Playoff opener at Las Vegas.
Kansas is Crafton’s best track on the circuit based on wins and it’s one of his favorites because of the racing surface.
"What’s so awesome about Kansas is you have so many options as the groove widens out so much," said Crafton, who will start fifth on Saturday. "That’s the first time we’ve raced there during the middle of the day and had that hot slippery racetrack. So that’s what I loved about it. I was looking at the weather this weekend. It’s not going to be as hot and slippery as it was when we were there last time, but we’re looking forward to it."
Texas, another 1.5-mile track, has been great to Crafton over the years with two wins on the old configuration/surface. He is currently riding an impressive streak of 18 consecutive top 10s there.
"Texas in the past on the old racetrack was really good for us," Crafton said. "We’ve got some cowboy hats to prove that, but the new racetrack at first it didn’t like us at all. End of last year and the first race this year we really, really ran well. We finished third and had a lot of speed.
"Martinsville, I know we’ve got some grandfather clocks to know that we’ve ran good there as well. So the next three I’ve got a lot of confidence."
Crafton will look to take that confindence in an attempt to secure a spot in the Championship 4 at Phoenix to go after a fourth title.
"Phoenix, I won a race there in Late Models. I’ve never won a truck race there, I came close," Crafton said. "I’ve led a lot of laps there. So, if we can make Phoenix, they’ll have their hands full with us."