COMMENTARY | It is hard to lose when you never falter.
And that is most definitely the game plan for NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points leader Matt Crafton.
Through 13 races this season, Crafton has 13 top 10s to go along with five top 5s and one win to put him firmly atop the Truck Series standings, 49 points ahead of defending series champion James Buescher. Superspeedways, short tracks, intermediates and even a dirt track, no matter what obstacle Crafton and his ThorSport team has faced this season, they have managed to overcome it and bring the car home safely inside the top 10.
It is not every day that a driver enjoys the kind of consistency and just plain good luck that goes along with being a perfect 13-for-13 in top 10 finishes, but that is just the year that Crafton has enjoyed so far in 2013.
And the irony is that, even when Crafton has a bad day, he still manages to turn in a top 10 performance.
Wednesday night at the UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway, Crafton was bumped, banged and even ran out of gas, but he still managed to bring his No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra home 10th, extending his perfect streak even though he lost two points to second-place Buescher.
"We were 10 laps to the good and it just caught us off guard. It just shut off, the fuel pressure went to zero and luckily we got it going before we went a lap down," Crafton said after the race. "It was such a good day until right there at the end. We had a really good truck. We ran in the top five all night long and we put ourselves in contention until we ran out of fuel."
Running second on the next-to-last restart, Crafton's truck sputtered due to a fuel pickup issue on the high-banked track, causing the field to stack up behind him and bring out the caution. In the closing laps, Crafton slipped deeper into the field, trading blows with Joey Coulter and resulting in the two exchanging words after the race.
Crafton confronted the Kyle Busch Motorsports driver immediately after the race, expressing his displeasure over their dus-tup on the track.
"I told him, I didn't wreck you, I moved you, just like you used me up at the dirt track. In my book, we're even or we can just keep in a pissing match," Crafton said. "They've been tearing up trucks and we don't need to tear up trucks in the position we're in. Hopefully, we can move on from it. If not, we'll figure it out one way or another."
But after the two had some time to cool off, Crafton added, in a much more light-hearted tone, "We were just talking about where we are going to lunch tomorrow and going shopping at Menards, that is all."
Kyle Busch won the race, his record 14th overall victory at Bristol.
While Crafton didn't have the finish that he had hoped for, he was still able to extend his incredible streak and hold the top spot with nine race remaining.
Crafton, who holds the record for the most consecutive Truck Series starts by an active driver, has never won a championship in 14 seasons. His best championship finish to date is second back in 2009, but if there was ever a year that the 37-year-old driver can get it done, this may just be it.
Oh, and to add to Crafton's incredible run, he has also made two starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for Richard Childress Racing this season. Want to guess where he finished in those races? Both top 10s.
While Crafton has gotten it done on just about every type of track in the sport, the one test he has not yet faced is a road course -- and that is next up on the schedule. Crafton and the Camping World Truck Series will travel to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Ontario for the Chevrolet Silverado 250 Labor Day weekend.
If Crafton can get another top 10 there, it may just be time to start making a little extra room in the trophy case.
L.A. Crum is a motorsports writer from Ohio. He is an avid fan of all things racing and college athletics and has worked with many of the top teams and drivers in the racing industry during his career. He is a proud graduate of Marshall University.
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