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Matt Crafton to race in the ARCA Menards 200 at Toledo Speedway May 15th

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ThorSport Racing preparing ARCA machine for NASCAR Truck Series star Matt Crafton


For Immediate Release:

Thursday, May 12, 2011


ThorSport Racing Assists in Preparation of

Menards 200 Car for NASCAR Driver Matt Crafton


(SANDUSKY, Ohio) - One week ago in the Sandusky, Ohio garage inhabited by ThorSport Racing - current home to the first and third-ranked teams in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series - sat over a dozen race vehicles in varying stages of preparation, one far different than all the rest.


Separated into two lanes of race trucks, the ThorSport garage houses several No. 13 Chevrolets for Truck Series points leader Johnny Sauter on the east side. Across an aisle are an equal number of No. 88 Menards Chevrolets for Matt Crafton, who is four points behind and in third place in the series standings.


In the Crafton lane, though, a stock car was positioned. Just around a corner and bordered by a maintenance shelf from the truck Crafton will race tomorrow at Delaware's Dover International Speedway, and just across the aisle from the truck Sauter will race in Charlotte next weekend, was a Ford familiar to any fan of the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards: an Ansell/Menards Fusion showing the name Frank Kimmel above each window.


Crafton, a veteran of more than 10 seasons and exactly 252 starts in the Truck Series, will travel from Dover to Toledo - via airports in Philadelphia and Detroit - Saturday morning to compete in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. Sunday's Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care will be the fourth race of the 2011 season and Crafton's third ARCA start overall after two fifth-place finishes last season.


Crafton will drive the No. 88 Messina Wildlife Management/Menards Ford, and that's where the explanation of how a Frank Kimmel car found its way from Indiana to the Sandusky home of ThorSport Racing begins.


Through a business relationship between ARCA Racing Series sponsors Menards - primary sponsor for Crafton in NASCAR and Kimmel in ARCA - and Messina Wildlife Management, the New Jersey-based Messina sees its colors on a Kimmel Racing car at select events on the ARCA schedule. To make this happen for a driver from ThorSport, a team whose primary focus is on truck racing, Kimmel Racing lends a car to ThorSport well before the event for review and preparation. A crew from CGS Imaging of Maumee, Ohio - also an ARCA sponsor - showed up to the shop this week to apply the new look and provide the final touches. 


The process of turning a Frank Kimmel car into a Matt Crafton car is not as simple as changing decals or adding the vivid red scheme featuring Messina Wildlife Management. That's where Crafton's crew chief, Bud Haefele, steps in.


The car, which was actually changed from a No. 44 to a No. 4 and driven by Kimmel's son, Frankie Kimmel, on May 1 at Salem, was delivered to ThorSport just after the Salem race. When the team finished its work on the Dover truck last Friday, Haefele and his crew began to focus on the ARCA car, maintaining that work until yesterday when they had to pack up and head east for the Delaware track.


"We go over nuts and bolts and make sure they're tight," said Haefele, standing on the shop floor. "You know, that's not a car they race all the time. It's Frank's backup car, so it sits in the trailer. It's just things like that; some things get overlooked on a backup car."


Though one might think two drivers from two different series would carry vastly different setups, Haefele said that's not necessarily the case.


"Really, there's not much difference at all," he said. "Kimmel actually drives the same kind of setup as Matt drives. We just wanted the car to go through it to make sure it has everything it needs, but really, Frank and Matt run pretty close to the same setup."


Without the pressure of running for a points championship as exists in the Camping World Truck Series, Haefele said taking part in the ARCA race is fun for everyone, driver and crew chief included.


"Matt likes doing it as long as the car's competitive, and that's what we're here trying to do," Haefele said. "It's a lot of fun. We love doing the ARCA deal."


Scheduled for 200 laps and 100 miles, the Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care will put a period on a tripleheader of weekend racing action in Toledo. The weekend's feature race will take the green flag at 2 p.m. on Sunday, and will be preceded by practice at 12:30 p.m. and Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.


The Buckeye 305 Sprint Car Series takes the track at Toledo Speedway on Friday, and will be followed by the ARCA Truck Series on Saturday.


Live timing and scoring and live audio coverage of all ARCA Racing Series activity will be provided by ARCA Nation and the ARCA Racing Network at ARCARacing.com.


The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards has crowned an ARCA national champion each year since its inaugural season in 1953, and has toured over 200 race tracks in 28 states since its inception. The series tests the abilities of drivers and race teams over the most diverse schedule of stock car racing events in the world, annually visiting tracks ranging from 0.4 mile to 2.66 miles in length, on both paved and dirt surfaces as well as a left- and right-turn road course.


Founded by John Marcum in 1953 in Toledo, Ohio, the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) is recognized among the leading sanctioning bodies in the country. Closing in on completing its sixth decade after hundreds of thousands of miles of racing, ARCA administers over 100 race events each season in two professional touring series and local weekly events.



Griffin Hickman, ARCA

(419) 574-2685 (mobile)



Don Radebaugh, ARCA

(419) 450-0611 (mobile)



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