home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


November 14, 2014

Matt Crafton

Carl Joiner, Jr.

David Pepper


KERRY THARP:  The 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion is Matt Crafton.  He's the driver of the No.88 Menard's Toyota, and he's joined by his crew chief, Carl Joiner Jr. and general manager over at ThorSport Racing, and I must say fellow Western Kentucky alum David Pepper.
Back‑to‑back championships in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has never been accomplished.  I know you didn't want to talk about it, but I'm sure you want to talk about it now.  Congratulations.
MATT CRAFTON:  Thank you.  It's definitely an awesome feeling to say you're back‑to‑back champion.  I definitely didn't want to talk about it at all the last few weeks.  Without a doubt I wanted to go out there and do my job and try to win more races and lead more laps and that's what we did.  I'm not going to lie, tonight's race for me was not much fun having to sit there and ride around because I know the truck was a lot better, but I couldn't put myself in any bad position.  I just have to wait for everything to file out and just sit there and ride because I couldn't take any chances of getting tore up.
I know that there was a lot of good side‑by‑side racing by everybody else, and it was tough not to get right in the middle of it.  Last year we lost the owner's title because I was trying to drive from the back to the front after a bad pit stop and got wrecked, so I learned something last year.  Use your head a little bit more sometimes.
It's an awesome feeling to say you're a two‑time champion, especially back‑to‑back.
KERRY THARP:  Carl, congratulations on this championship.  What does it mean to you being the crew chief of the championship team?
CARL JOINER JR.:  It means everything.  That's why we came up every day and go to work, and gosh, I can't say enough about our guys up there in Sandusky.  I'm so proud of them.  We work so hard every day, just blood, sweat and tears, and for Matt, his family, my family, everything, I couldn't be happier for Duke and Rhonda Thorson and everybody in the whole state of Ohio.  I bet they're probably partying right now, everybody.
KERRY THARP:  And David, congratulations, back‑to‑back championships for ThorSport Racing.  What does this mean for that organization?
DAVID PEPPER:  It's everything.  We've been building toward this for 18 years.  To get this back‑to‑back, it's just a culmination of a great season, and we're going to party as Junior said for the next few days, and then we're going to go back and go to work and see if we can't do three.

Q.  Did they tell you on the radio, Matt, that Blaney was having issues with his car with the shifter?
MATT CRAFTON:  No, they didn't say anything until he had gotten in front of me on a restart, and at that point they told me that he had a broken shifter so just watch yourself going through the gears, make sure he didn't miss a shift or anything like that.  Besides that, they didn't say anything.  I said, Blaney did an unbelievable job going through the gears with a pair of vice grips on his shifter without a doubt.  Hands down to him, that was pretty awesome.

Q.  Matt, you said this was a very frustrating race for you because you felt like the truck had more in it.  Do you think you could have contended for the win if you had to go up there and had that luxury?
MATT CRAFTON:  I definitely think we could have ran with the top three.  Like I said, you put us out in clean air, it's amazing what these things will do in clean air and restarts were everything.  I had to play defense the whole time.  I couldn't play any kind of offense, and that's usually what we have to do on restarts, you have to play offense and go.  And I had to play defense and just wait for everything to file out and then kind of sit there and ride.  It was definitely a tough night and I didn't like to do it the way we did and wanted to race a lot harder.  I said we were, but at the same time, I sat there and thought about it a lot today.  I was like, if I can keep the 29 close to me and the 51, at the end of the day, we were looking to see if we could beat him for an owner's title, and if he had problems, then we were going to try to race for the win at that point and take all the gloves off.

Q.  Matt, just a couple things.  Number one, what does it mean to be the first back‑to‑back champion of the series?  And secondly, I mean, you pretty much eclipsed your marks from last year in about every category this year.  What does that say or suggest about the future and a potential third championship next year?
MATT CRAFTON:  Oh, without a doubt.  I don't feel‑‑ I feel very good about going into 2015 and maybe making it three in a row.  That would be‑‑ there's no doubt that we can.  I've said it's all about these guys that build these trucks up in Sandusky, Ohio, and having the owners that give us all the tools, Duke and Rhonda Thorson.
I can remember the very first time I sat down with Duke Thorson at the end of 2000.  He told me we're going to run this like a business, and we're going to make it better and better each year, but I'm not going to outspend myself and I'm not going to go away in two or three years.  I'm going to be one of these owners that's going to be around for the long haul, and if you want to stick it out with me, we'll win races, we'll win championships, and that's what makes it so much sweeter to be where we are today.  Because, like I said, we didn't have all the resources, we didn't have all the tools that we have today, and he's been a man of his word, and Rhonda, as well, giving us everything throughout the years to become a two‑time champion.  It's an awesome feeling.

Q.  Just following up a little bit on what you just said, loyalty is tough to come by these days, and obviously it's been a two‑way street.  Can you talk about what it was like six, seven, eight years ago when it looked like the last two years might never come about?
MATT CRAFTON:  Very, very frustrating at times without a doubt.  There's been spots and points of brilliance and we're going to get to the top of this hill, and I knew we would eventually, but there was definitely a lot of times there was a lot of aggravation and stuff that we had to go through to get here, to get the perseverance to get here.  That makes it that much sweeter.

Q.  (No microphone.)
MATT CRAFTON:  He's a man of his word.  Like I said, since the day I've met him, he's always told me something, and he's always been a man of his word.  There's not too many people out there that you can say that about.

Q.  You talked about not wanting to talk about back‑to‑back before tonight.  How extreme was it in not talking about it?  Did your wife ever mention it?  Did you tell her not to talk about it?  Did you think about it?  And why not let it be a part of the conversation?
MATT CRAFTON:  It was just ‑‑ honestly, the only time I ever thought about it was when the media talked to me about it.  Nobody else talked to me about it, nobody in the crew, crew chief, nobody.  Nobody did besides the media, and all we did, like I said, I made a promise to Junior that ‑‑ this last winter that we were going to go out and lead more laps and win more races.  And like I said, we lead a ton more laps and we won two races and definitely had the capability to win more if we didn't have the bad luck that we had there in the middle part of the season.  It's a damn shame because I feel like we should have at least won five races without a doubt.  Now I can say I'm a two‑time champion.  It's a great feeling.

Q.  A lot of people don't get to create history.  Maybe it's too early, but what does that mean?
MATT CRAFTON:  I guess I'm getting pretty damn old or something if I'm making history.  I hadn't really thought about it.  I hadn't thought about it, like I said, even when the media people talked to me about it, I would honestly try to block it out and just go do my job.  And if I do my job and have all the right luck on my side, I can become a two‑time champion, but, like I said, I didn't worry about it, I didn't think about it.  I said there has not been one sleepless night.  I woke up at 4:05 this morning, and that was the only time I think I've woke up in the last seven, eight months and worried about points or worried about anything.  And like I said, I went back to sleep within the next 15, 20 minutes.

Q.  We've seen people like Jack Ingram who have made a career for themselves in a series like the Nationwide Series.  I wonder for you if that's your legacy, being the man in the Truck Series.  Would that be satisfactory to you and how would you look back on a career like that?
MATT CRAFTON:  Oh, it would be very satisfactory to me to ‑‑ I mean, I'd be ecstatic about it except I'm getting paid to driver a race car.  I think I'm the luckiest man on earth without a doubt.  I get paid to do what I love to do.  I mean, there's not a whole lot of people that can say that.  Every day I wake up, I feel very blessed.

Q.  I know you guys are racers at the heart, so how focused are you guys already on 2015 with no testing and what you guys are set up to accomplished to become a three‑peat champion?
CARL JOINER JR.  I'll take that one.  We're not taking any time off.  We're already putting the rear clip on our Daytona truck and we've got a seven post date in two weeks and a wind tunnel date in a month.  And the manufacturers, those guys, like even‑‑ today was the last day or this weekend is the last weekend of testing and TRD is straight line testing 200 miles from here.  That's what we do.  We eat, sleep and breathe it, and we wake up every morning and we try to get better.  We'll go back to Sandusky‑‑ tomorrow I'm probably going to be on the beach, but I'll be thinking about what we could have done better today.
DAVID PEPPER:  We'll talk about it for about two days and we'll put on tuxedoes, and Tuesday we'll go back home racing.
CARL JOINER JR.:  I wasn't even nervous tonight.  I don't know what the deal was.  He asked me if I was nervous and I was kind of worried about myself.  We're just confident and we do what we do, and I've got all the faith in the world in him.  I knew what he was doing all night and the spotter is great, so we'll just try to do more next year, lead more laps, win more races.

Q.  David, we talked about ThorSport Racing and you guys could do anything y'all wanted to as far as any of the series.  What is it about the Camping World Truck Series that you guys love and do so well at?
DAVID PEPPER:  Well, it fits our business model.  We've got great partners in Menard's Toyota and Nextant and Smoky Mountain and Estes, they're all great partners of ours, and it's a nice niche for us right now.  It's not to say we wouldn't do anything else.  We had a couple great years in the ARCA series, won a championship last year in that.  We're always looking for the next challenge.  We'll always say that.  But it has to make sense.  We're not going to be a team that‑‑ to Matt's point, it's not Duke and Rhonda's philosophy to go out and do more than what we can do in a single season.  It's about growing slowly, building a quality team, getting great people together like these two gentlemen up here, and winning races, winning championships.  Whether it be in the ARCA series, Truck Series, Nationwide, Cup, we're going to be here for a long, long time.  There's no telling what we can accomplish.

Q.  Matt, you're one of four drivers now to have won multiple truck championships, joining Ron Hornaday, Jack Sprague and Todd Bodine.  What does it mean to be on the list with those guys and to be in such an exclusive club?
MATT CRAFTON:  I mean, it's awesome, without a doubt, to say that‑‑ to be on the list with those guys is unreal.  I've watched Ron Hornaday race with my dad in the '80s, and he was an unreal race car driver, and to see Jack Sprague and all those guys win the championships, like I said, damn good race car drivers, and to say I'm on the list with them is pretty cool.
KERRY THARP:  Congratulations to the No.88 Menard's Toyota for their second straight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297