NASCAR Trucks champ Crafton “disappointed” with tandem drafting ban

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NASCAR’s decision to ban tandem drafting across both the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series isn’t sitting well with the latter series’ reigning champion.

During today’s CWTS Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona, Thorsport Racing’s Matt Crafton admitted that he was “disappointed” in the move to outlaw the tandem, saying that it enables drivers to “get away from people” on the track.

“But now you’re going to have those packs of 20 trucks,” Crafton said. “It’s going to be crazy to watch, but I think that now you’re going to be able to bump draft, and that’s one of the harder things to do is trying to judge it – ‘Is that guy getting into the corner?'”

“Because when you’re sitting behind somebody, you’re going to hit him and you can’t really judge when you hit them. Because if you’re getting close to them, you can’t judge when you’re getting ready to go in the corner, and if you do hit somebody, it might just start turning the wheel left to go into the corner and you’re going to cause a big wreck.”

In addition to tandem drafting now being outlawed, Crafton and the rest of the CWTS drivers are having to get used to a new body style on their Chevrolet Silverados, Ford F-150s, and Toyota Tundras (the truck that Crafton himself races).

In a nod to the Sprint Cup Generation 6 machines, the new trucks are meant to carry a better resemblance to their street-faring counterparts. Crafton had high praise for his revamped truck in how it raced by itself, but had yet to sample it in a drafting situation.

As for the big picture, Crafton believes that with everybody in the same boat, attaining even a small edge in getting speed out of the new trucks will make a big difference.

“It’s just that way every year, but now that we have the new trucks, it’s going to be ‑ I mean, getting in the wind tunnel, going to test at places we’re going to race, and whoever can get that little step ahead is going to be the team to beat without a doubt,” he said.

“We’ve worked really hard and been paying attention to the wind tunnel stuff and trying to figure out what this thing wants compared to what the [previous] Toyota Tundra wanted.”

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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