@Matt_Crafton just wouldn’t surrender.
Michigan International Speedway threw everything it had at the defending Camping World Truck Series champion, but to no avail. Crafton, after starting on pole, finished sixth Saturday afternoon in the Careers for Veterans 200 after repeatedly coming from behind. His No. 88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota Tundra was a magnet for trouble during the 100-lap event, and it started early.
One of the strongest trucks in the field, Crafton was settled in when he suddenly reported his windshield had broken in half. Yes, his windshield, as a support bolt had popped out.
“That was pretty amazing – how often do you see a windshield break in half? The left side windshield broke in front of me, and it would completely cave in on me going down the front straightaway when I was in dirty air,” Crafton said. “It actually starting breaking loose from the roof and I said, ‘Hey folks, this is going to be huge when it comes in, it’s going to come in on me.’”
Worried it was going to cave in, a caution on Lap 26 allowed the ThorSport Racing team to go to work. Crafton made repeated trips down pit road where the crew’s do-it-yourself project included bare bond and a kneepad from a crewmember to create support behind the windshield brace.
Crafton rejoined the action and began working his way through the field albeit blinded.
“It was pretty amazing what these guys did to fix it – there was a piece of bare bond stuck on the windshield, and it kind of went just in the right spot,” Crafton said. “It was kind of like a blind spot, because it was hard to see with all of it stuck on the windshield. Then felt really good and the yellow came out and it almost fell out because the air was kind of holding it in at that point.”
Although Crafton quickly made it back into contention, his day didn’t get any easier.
Running eighth inside the final 15 laps, Crafton was tagged in the left rear quarter panel by @JWTownley. The No. 05 got loose entering Turn 3 and slid up into Crafton, causing them both to go drifting through Turn 4. Both escaped without wrecking.
A caution shortly thereafter saw Crafton come back down pit road. With no track position – again – but fresh tires, Crafton charged from 14th to sixth in the final six laps. The surge resulted in a finish ahead of point leader @TylerReddick and moved him within eight of the top spot with 10 races remaining.
Not bad for a hard day’s work.
“Very trying day,” Crafton admitted, “and to come out with a top-10 after we had to go from the to go from the back to the front and then the green-white-checkered finish.”
EMAIL KELLY AT email@example.com
FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @KellyCrandall