JAMES RIVER, NS — Two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton has a score to settle and hopes to accomplish that goal on July 16 in the 10th annual IWK 250 presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body at Riverside International Speedway. Crafton will use a rare off-weekend from his No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra to make a third trip to the fabled event in highland hills of Nova Scotia.
“You hit the nail on the head,” said Crafton. “I do hope the third time is the charm. That race is a blast. I want that trophy. I was really disappointed last year after our car broke while we were leading – we thought we had a real good shot at the win.”
Crafton will drive the popular Cat Car for Kids sponsored by Atlantic Cat, this year bearing the No. 16. He will race out of the Nova Racing stable as a teammate to 2015 Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour champion Donald Chisholm, from Antigonish, and veteran racer George Koszkulics, from New Glasgow.
In the 2014 edition of the IWK 250, Crafton set fast time in time trials, won the dash, and started on the pole, but by self-admission his timing was off after not being in a late model for a while. He dropped back amongst the stout field and didn’t catch up, finishing 10th on the field.
Last year he qualified second – sitting on the provisional pole until being knocked off it by Chisholm – started the feature from the third spot and was leading when the car suffered a brake calliper issue which forced Crafton to the pits while leading, recording a 21st-place finish.
“I talked to the guys at Nova Racing the other day and they have those problems figured out,” said Crafton. “We had a very, very good car last year. I expect an as good or better car this year.”
Besides the racing, Crafton rates the IWK 250 and its fans as among the greatest he’s ever dealt with.
“I was in awe the first year I was there,” he said. “I was awed even more last year. It is an amazing event and gets better every year. I find it interesting to see how into late model racing the fans are.”
Crafton is the only driver in the 30-year history of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to win back-to-back championships. The Tulare, California, native began his racing career in go-karts, mini sprints and midgets before following his father, Danny Crafton, into late models where he won the 2000 NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series championship. That success led him to ThorSport Racing where he became the driver of the No. 88 truck full-time in 2001. In a 16-year NCWTS career Crafton holds the record for the most consecutive starts of any active driver and has finished in the top 10 final standings in 11 of the last 12 seasons (including the two championships.)
Regan Smith is the only NASCAR guest driver to take the checkers at the IWK 250, doing so in 2008. Besides Smith and Crafton, other NASCAR racers that have challenged the region’s best in the event include Aric Almirola, Marcos Ambrose, Ricky Craven, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and David Reutimann.
The IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body is a two-day event starting July 15 with the Highland Building Centres 100 for the NAPA Sportsman Series along with a championship points event for the Atlantic Tiltload Maritime League of Legends. Fans who wish to arrive early can register with the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience (www.racewithrusty.com) to experience the thrill of being on-track at Riverside, with sessions set for July 14 and 15.
On July 16 the cars and stars of IWK 250 are centre-stage, all vying for the checkered flag and all the accolades that come with being an IWK 250 champion. It is one of the most prestigious titles in Canadian stock car racing and the winner will see their name engraved on the magnificent John W. Chisholm Memorial Cup, the perpetual award for the event paying homage to the late John Chisholm, founder and builder of Riverside International Speedway.
And, if there’s not enough already on the line at the IWK 250, it is a championship points event for the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour.
Advance tickets for the IWK 250 will be available starting the week of June 13; campsites are available now and going fast (all sites must be reserved in advance, i.e. no drive-ups and no overnight parking without a permit between July 13 and 18.)
The 2016 season at Riverside gets underway June 11 with the Ron MacGillivray Chev Buick 150 for the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour along with the Highland Building Centres 50 for the Napa Sportsman Series. Advance tickets for the Ron MacGillivray 150 will be available the week of May 23 at www.riversidespeedway.ca.
Besides being recognized as one of the most entertaining stock car races in Canada, the IWK 250 helps raise awareness and funding for the IWK Health Centre with more than $250,000 donated to the IWK Foundation over the past nine years.
-Maritime Pro Stock Tour Press Release
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com