NCWTS: Down But Not Out; Crafton Claims Truck Pole for Season Finale at Homestead

Jacob Seelman NASCAR, Southeast 0 Comments

HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Report by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR photo —

Matt Crafton set the second-fastest lap across both rounds of Keystone Light Pole Qualifying on Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The good news for the two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) champion was that his lap was fastest in the most important of those, earning him the pole for Friday night’s Ford EcoBoost 200 (8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM).

Crafton posted a time of 32.229 seconds (167.551 mph) in the second and final knockout round to top the 12 drivers fighting for the pole and claim his 11th career top qualifying effort in the Truck ranks as a result.

While he is 32 points adrift of championship leader Erik Jones entering the finale and realistically does not have a chance at securing his third-consecutive NCWTS championship, Crafton did say the effort gives him confidence that he can end the season with a victory for his ThorSport Racing crew.

“It’s a good starting spot, for sure, and we’ve all seen that means a lot at Homestead” said Crafton of his fourth pole of 2015. “It’s good for all my [ThorSport] guys. This is the same truck that we won Kentucky with (by leading ). We wrecked it at Pocono, but after we rebuilt it I’ve felt that we can take it anywhere and be strong with it. We took it to Texas, we’ve brought it here to Homestead and feel that this is the place for it [to be successful again].”

“Hopefully we’ve built enough adjust-ability into it that we can be fast, because we practiced during the day and [Homestead] is so much different at night. We’ll just take it one lap at a time and go from there. We should be alright.”

Crafton will be joined on the front row by a driver who looks to score an emotional family win at Homestead, John Hunter Nemechek.

Nemechek, who was the man to beat in the opening round of knockout qualifying after posting a top speed of 167.717 mph, could only muster a best lap of 32.335 seconds (167.002 mph) in the final round and will start second.

The 18-year-old, who looks to honor his late uncle John with a south Florida victory, said he “didn’t think” his run was going to be “all that quick” when he rolled onto the track for round one and agreed with his earlier description following the conclusion of qualifying.

Ben Kennedy’s No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra timed in third-quick (32.351/166.919), ahead of the two primary contenders for the Truck title.

Challenger Tyler Reddick clocked in fourth-fastest (32.357/166.888) ahead of points leader Erik Jones (32.363/166.857), who carries a lead of 19 markers into the finale and must finish 15th or better to secure the series crown in his rookie season.

“This was another great effort by everyone on our team and I’m really happy to be starting inside the top 10 again,” Reddick said. “I qualified in the same place as I did last year, and I made the same mistake as I did last year (laughs). I overdrove [turns] three and four again; I thought we had a really good shot at [the pole] and just got too over-agressive. It’s not over though, we’ll take this on to tonight and give it everything we’ve got.”

“[Around fifth] is kind of where I thought we’d qualify, to be honest,” Jones admitted. “When we practiced earlier in the day we had a good truck but not one that was dominant by any means. I think we can go contend — we’ll be a top three truck I think — but this doesn’t change our outlook at all. We’re just going to race our race and do what we normally do. All you can do is see how it plays out and go from there.”

Daniel Suarez, practice pace-setter Daniel Hemric, Spencer Gallagher, Christopher Bell, Johnny Sauter, Cameron Hayley and Timothy Peters rounded out the dozen drivers who competed in both knockout rounds.

John Wes Townley was the first driver to miss the cut for the pole-deciding group and will start 13th as a result.

Other notables to miss the final round included Hemric’s NTS Motorsports teammate Rico Abreu (14th), who was on the bubble to advance before being bumped out by Reddick and Hemric at the very end of the first round; Brandon Jones (17th); the returning Austin Theriault (18th); Jesse Little (19th), competing in a fourth truck for ThorSport; and Lira Motorsports teammates Kyle Weatherman (21st) and David Levine (22nd), the top two in the ARCA Racing Series rookie standings who are both making their series debuts.

The only major incident of the session occurred early on, when Dexter Stacey spun exiting turn four on his run and just nosed into the inside wall on the frontstretch. The truck was minimally damaged, and while Stacey was unable to officially complete a timed lap, he was able to fall back on an owner points provisional and will start 32nd tonight.

Second-generation NASCAR star Ross Kenseth, Eldora runner-up Bobby Pierce, and series veterans Todd Peck and Norm Benning were the four drivers who failed to make the 32-truck starting field.


RESULTS: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series; Keystone Light Pole Qualifying; Homestead-Miami Speedway; Nov. 20, 2015

  1. Matt Crafton
  2. John Hunter Nemechek
  3. Ben Kennedy
  4. Tyler Reddick
  5. Erik Jones
  6. Daniel Suarez
  7. Daniel Hemric
  8. Spencer Gallagher
  9. Christopher Bell
  10. Johnny Sauter
  11. Cameron Hayley
  12. Timothy Peters
  13. John Wes Townley
  14. Rico Abreu
  15. David Gilliland
  16. Scott Lagasse Jr.
  17. Brandon Jones
  18. Austin Theriault
  19. Jesse Little
  20. Mason Mingus
  21. Kyle Weatherman
  22. David Levine
  23. Tyler Young
  24. Jennifer Jo Cobb
  25. Timmy Hill
  26. Brandon Brown
  27. Ray Black Jr.
  28. Travis Kvapil
  29. Garrett Smithley
  30. Jordan Anderson
  31. Korbin Forrister
  32. Dexter Stacey

DNQ:  Ross Kenseth, Bobby Pierce, Todd Peck and Norm Benning


About the Writer

Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network. Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.

The 21-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for both the United Sprint Car Series and the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.

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