Truck champ Matt Crafton: Fans will get a great show at Daytona

HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 15 2013:  Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Door / Menards Toyota, sits in his truck in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2013 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

HOMESTEAD, FL – NOVEMBER 15 2013: Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Door / Menards Toyota, sits in his truck in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2013 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Matt Crafton, for one, will miss tandem drafting at superspeedways, but he concedes its absence could enhance fans enjoyment of racing during Speedweeks.

NASCAR has banned tandem drafting (one car pushing another for sustained periods) in the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The edict will be in effect when teams return to Daytona International Speedway in February for the first competition of the new season.

Bump-drafting, on the other hand, where one car or trucks propels another forward with a tap to the rear bumper, remains a legal tactic.

Crafton, last year’s truck series champion, said he was disappointed to see tandem drafting on the prohibited list, because that style of racing allows two cars to hook up and escape a large pack.

“I think the tandem deal… you can get away from people,” Crafton said Monday during a break in NCWTS testing at Daytona. “But now you’re going to have those packs of 20 trucks. It’s going to be crazy to watch, but now I think you’re going to be able to bump-draft.

“That’s one of the harder things to do is trying to judge it. Is that guy getting into a corner? Because, when you’re sitting behind somebody, you’re going to hit him, and you can’t really judge when you hit them.

“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 just might start turning the wheel left to go in the corner, and you’re going to cause a big wreck.”

But, the way Crafton sees it, the tandem ban should add to fans’ enjoyment.

“There’s going to be ‘goods,’ and there’s going to be ‘bads,’ like I said, but it will be good racing,” Crafton said.

IN WITH THE NEW

To ease the financial burden of new truck construction, pursuant to major changes in the body design this year, NASCAR will allow teams to run their choice of 2013 or 2014 models at speedways measuring 1.25 miles or less.

Ryan Blaney, expected to be a championship contender in a truck fielded by Brad Keselowski, says his team will run only new models this year.

“I think we’re going to go all new this year,” Blaney said Monday at Daytona. “We’ve been in the (wind) tunnel, and we’ve seen how much improved they are, how much faster they are, just how much better downforce they (have) and all that stuff.

“We’re planning on using all brand-new trucks, except for the Eldora race (on dirt). We’re going to use an old one for that race. But as far as everything else goes, we’re going to go with the new 2014 stuff.”

NO MORE ROOKIE STRIPE

As far as Jeb Burton is concerned, there’s only one disadvantage to losing his rookie status.

“The only thing I’m going to miss about being a rookie is the extra set of tires you get for practice,” Burton said Monday at Daytona. “That was nice. Other than that, it’s cool to be a veteran out there. I’ll have experience at all the race tracks besides two of them we go to, so that’s going to help me a lot.”

Not that Burton needed much help during his rookie season in the series last year. He collected a series-best seven poles and won the seventh event of the season, at Texas. That success has the 21-year-old son of former Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton primed for 2014.

“I’m pumped up,” he said. “My (Turner Scott Motorsports) team is pumped up. I feel like I’ve matured and got better, and I feel like our team is getting better every day. We’ve just got to do the right things this year and not shoot ourselves in the foot and go do our deal — and I think we’ll win a championship.”

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