NASCAR & Auto Racing

Matt Crafton pickup line in Truck Series: Lead laps, win races:

Matt Crafton isn’t interested in talking about a third consecutive NASCAR Truck series championship.

So, we’ll do it for him.

With his victory in last weekend’s race at Kansas, Crafton has won two of the first four races this season.

In addition to the wins, he heads into Friday night’s N.C. Education Lottery 250 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m., FS1) with a 17-point lead in the series standings over Tyler Reddick.

On his way to his second consecutive Truck series title last season, Crafton was also leading the standings after the first four races.

“I’m not even remotely thinking about a championship right now — I’m just going race by race. It’s what we did last year. We lead laps and win races,” Crafton said. “We’ll see where we are at Homestead.”

Crafton’s crew chief, Carl Joiner, wasted no time after winning the Kansas race to rib Crafton that he could have three wins already.

“He had to throw a little salt in the wound,” Crafton said of Joiner. “He said if we wouldn’t have lost that race in Martinsville then we would have had three out of four this year.

“Martinsville was a tough one to lose for sure, but I said two out of four isn’t bad.”

No it isn’t.

And Crafton’s victories this season — at Atlanta and Kansas — should not come as a big surprise.

In his past 10 starts at 1.5-mile tracks, Crafton has three wins, 10 top-10 finishes and an average finish of 3.2.

That bodes well for the at Charlotte, a 1.5-mile track similar to the ones on which he’s already won this year.

“I’m really looking forward to going to Charlotte,” Crafton said. “It was the home of my first win, so that’s always special. We’ve always run, for the most part, pretty good there.

“We’ve had bad ones there, but we finished second there last year. For the most part we’ve run pretty good, and our mile-and-a-half program is pretty good right now.

“I’m really looking forward to carrying this momentum into the next few.”

Joiner, too, believes that the next several races will go a long way toward determining who will battle for the championship come the end of the season.

“I’m really looking forward to these next several races. We’ve got some good trucks ready at the shop,” he said.

While Crafton has never been a frequent visitor to Victory Lane, his consistently strong performances have set the standard in the series the past several seasons.

Asked if he thought he and his ThorSport Racing team was a target, Crafton said he tries not to pay attention to the talk.

“I just go out here and do my job,” he said. “I’m having a blast. This is the best time of my life right now. Each and every time I come to the race track and have [Joiner] and these guys bring such awesome trucks to the race track.

“I’m just going out there and having a blast doing what I’m doing.”

Twitter: @jim_utter