By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Despite a top-15 finish and scoring the fourth-most points, Matt Crafton left Talladega frustrated with John Hunter Nemechek.
The three-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion may have scored points in both Stages, but it almost didn’t happen. Aggressive bump drafting from Nemechek forced Crafton to fight for control in his No. 88 Zep / Menards Toyota Tundra. The ThorSport Racing driver was livid on the team radio after the contact in exiting Turn 2 at the end of Stage 2.
After avoiding ‘the big one,’ Crafton found himself sixth by the time the white flag waved. However, he was swept up in one of three accidents that took place on the final lap. Crafton limped his battered Tundra back to the start-finish line in 14th.
“Stage 2 off of Turn 2, there at the end he (John Hunter Nemechek) hits me off of the corner,” explained Crafton. “He’s smarter than that. I’m fine with getting hit going down the straightaway for stage points, but not coming off of the corner, but what comes around goes around sometimes. At the end of the day, these guys brought me a really fast Menards Toyota Tundra.”
Although Crafton finished outside the top-10, he stilled scored the fourth-most points of those in the race. Finishes of third and fourth in the first two Stages added 15-points to his tally in the Chevrolet Silverado 250.
After the chaotic finish, Crafton sits third on the playoff grid. He is just five-points above the playoff cutoff, held by Sheldon Creed. The 45-year-old has a 10-point cushion over the first driver on the outside, looking in for the Championship Four, Stewart Friesen. Crafton is 26-points behind leader Nemechek.
Only one more race stands between Crafton and a chance at a fourth championship, the United Rentals 200 at Martinsville Speedway.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by Jerry Jordan / Kickin’ the Tires.