Riding Shotgun with Matt Crafton: A theme of change

This year Skirts and Scuffs is taking a new adventure. We are riding shotgun with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Matt Crafton. Crafton, driver of the No.88 Menards Toyota Tundra for ThorSport Racing will be working with us all season long, providing an insight into his point of view, on and off track. 

Matt Crafton has started 2012 surrounded by new things. From a new wife, to a new crew chief and even a new manufacturer to get accustom to, Crafton is taking it all in stride and ready to get racing as Daytona fast approaches.

The year started off fantastic for Crafton and bride Ashley, getting married on January 7th in Mexico.

“I was super excited,” said Crafton of his recent wedding. “It really hasn’t changed a whole lot; she just changed her last name. It’s a new chapter and definitely exciting for sure.”

For Crafton, his offseason was really not much of a vacation nor did it consist of any downtime like we picture.

“My offseason is usually busier than my race season honestly. From Homestead to last Thursday, I have only been home eight days. It’s definitely quite a bit busier for me, during the offseason versus during the racing season.”

Crafton looks forward to a return to a bit of a more scheduled life with the return of racing; the return to structured life can be a good thing.

“You can get somewhat of a routine down, go to the gym and get back at things.”

Changes abound for 2012

During the offseason it was announced that ThorSport Racing was transitioning to Toyota (change No.1) which would require testing and learning new equipment.

“We have been working really hard over the winter getting the trucks changed over, that was a lot of work for the guys and they have went above and beyond. They have exceeded every expectation.”

After several test sessions, Crafton says that “everything has been really good” with the Tundras.

On top of that, add in a new crew chief (change No.2) and you may think that would be too many changes at once for one driver. For a veteran like Crafton, nah. Carl Joiner has come on board as Crafton’s crew chief but Joiner has been a long serving member of Crafton’s team.

“He has been with us the last eight years and he has been a best friend to me for quite a few years. Actually, he was crew chief for me when I raced with my dad in 2000 and I won the Southwest Championship (Featherlite Southwest Series) on the west coast. He has been around and a part of a lot of my success in racing so we know each other really well, he knows me better then I know myself actually. Bud, my old crew chief, he is still involved in the race team and we have all worked together so we’ll be just fine.”

Working with Travis Pastrana

If you were watching the Rolex 24 hour race, your ears perked up when Travis Pastrana gave Crafton a shoutout as his driver coach. It came as a surprise to some that Crafton has been working with Pastrana in aiding his development into NASCAR, but Matt’s take on this whole situation is refreshing.

“He hasn't had any NASCAR experience until last December, a year ago, was the first time I saw Travis. He has raced rally cars, go karts, but I am just there to make the transition a little easier.”

Explaining the teaching process Crafton explained how he and Pastrana work on his development.

“A lot of time when we go to the track I just drive the car, and then he will get in and drive it and try to explain what the car is doing. I get in and tell the crew chief what it is actually doing and just tell him what he is feeling, just trying to speed up his process. We all know he is going to have a lot of critics out there just like anyone else coming from any other form of motorsports into NASCAR. Travis has a ton of drive and a ton of heart to make this successful. This guy is so determined to make this work and be successful at this, it is awesome.”

“I have been doing this for 25 years, been racing trucks for going on 12 years and he (Pastrana) has to cram all my experience into the amount of time he has to figure it out. We all know if he doesn’t succeed that everyone is going to be there saying I told ya.”

Like all of NASCAR, Crafton is anxiously awaiting Patrana’s debut later this year.

Getting his mojo back

Many drivers have ways they think their mojo is won or lost’ for some it maybe lucky charms, t-shirts, or even the helmet they wear.
Mighty Mouse is good luck for Crafton.

Intrigued by this picture on Twitter, Matt's new helmet sparked interest. Why a large Mighty Mouse? Silly question of course, because the answer was simple: mojo!

“I have always loved Mighty Mouse since I was a kid, thought it was so cool and used to have it on my helmets. Starting in 2010 I took it off and last year was the worst season I had, so I said I needed to put my Mighty Mouse back on. I need to have some good luck again, that is why I put it even bigger and better."

Crafton, Mighty Mouse and the No.88 Menards team will make their season debut in Daytona on February 24 at 7pm est and the race will be broadcast live on SPEED. Don't miss out on what is bound to be a fantastic race and season.
Riding Shotgun with Matt Crafton: A theme of change Riding Shotgun with Matt Crafton: A theme of change Reviewed by Admin on Friday, February 17, 2012 Rating: 5