By Stephanie Adair – Matt Crafton has led the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series point standings for a majority of this year. His stats have been stellar with one win, five top 5s and no DNFs. In all of the 14 races this season, he has finished in the top 10 every single time. With nine more races to go, he is currently sitting 47 points ahead of second place James Buescher. Can anyone beat Crafton this season?
The NCWTS drivers seeded from second to fifth are currently sitting within 21 points of each other. This group includes James Buescher (-47), Ty Dillon (-63), Jeb Burton (-65) and Miguel Paludo (-68). Many of them have at least one win and several top 10 finishes this season.
Despite those statistics, none of them have been as consistent as Crafton. Additionally, each one of these drivers have at least two finishes outside the top 15 with two having one DNF. Based on these current stats and continued consistency, Crafton could secure his and ThorSport Racing’s first championship.
In the 18 years this race team has fielded cars, their highest finishing position was second with Crafton in 2009. This is shaping up to be the breakout year for both the team and their driver.
In the homestretch of the 2013 season, should Crafton and ThorSport Racing feel relaxed with their lofty points lead? Not exactly. As we have seen in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this year, a point lead can be dissolved in a matter of a few races. Five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson had dominated the series standings all season long.
Four races ago, after Watkins Glen, he led the standings by 75 points. After a small streak of bad luck, his point standings lead has dwindled down to only 28 points. A big lead like Crafton’s could be spent in only one bad finish.
The 13-year NASCAR Camping World Truck Series veteran and his team will have to stay on their toes. When a team runs exceedingly well, they are usually prone to a “slump”, like we have seen with Johnson. If Crafton has a slump then James Buescher, Ty Dillon, Jeb Burton, and Miguel Paludo will be ready to take advantage of it. In the upcoming races, the current point leader will need to balance caution and aggression. If Crafton does this and continues to run well, we might be seeing his name engraved on the trophy at the end of the season.
Stephanie Adair is a Popular Speed Development Journalist.