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.”

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.