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.”

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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