Matt Crafton bemoans NASCAR Trucks spec engine after Martinsville mishap
The two-time champion suffered the latest power plant failure for ThorSport
For the second time in as many rounds, a ThorSport Racing championship contender was the victim of an apparent Ilmor spec engine problem: this time Matt Crafton on Saturday at Martinsville Speedway.
In the closing moments of the second stage, Crafton’s engine began shutting off in the corners, before restarting without explanation, while he was running inside the top 10. It shut off entirely under caution on lap 80, 20 laps away from the finish of the second stage.
The problem, which was eventually cited as some sort of failure with the (ECU) engine control unit, cost the ThorSport No. 88 eight laps and a chance at winning. It may ultimately have prevented Crafton from advancing into the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway as well.
Upon returning to the track, Crafton was able to avoid the carnage of the second half to finish 23rd, far enough back to knock him out of a provisional transfer spot into the championship race. There is just one race remaining to set the field, in two weeks at Phoenix Raceway.
ThorSport Racing, and several other teams, suffered a series of widespread catastrophic engine failures last month at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which led to the playoff eliminations of ThorSport teammates Grant Enfinger and Johnny Sauter.
Ilmor ultimately took responsibility for the failures, citing heat and loads in desert.
“It’s weird,” Crafton said after Saturday’s race. “Hell of a common denominator. Three of the six trucks out with similar issues due to something within the frame rails of these race trucks having this issue a lot.”
“Something between the frame rails.”
Like the power plant.
Crafton will enter the final race of this round nine points behind Austin Hill and 11 points behind Ross Chastain. He has six additional points over Tyler Ankrum in sixth.
“We’ll take this truck to Phoenix, it’s a new truck and it’s a hotrod,” Crafton said. “It’ll be something we can win with, no doubt. We’ll go there with plans to kick their teeth in. Take no prisoners.”