All over but the shouting

After finishing fifth this past Friday in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Phoenix, Matt Crafton was relaxed and jovial.

At the dais in the media center, he joked with fellow NCWTS veteran Brendan Gaughan. The drivers laughed about possible subterfuge that would keep Crafton from starting the season finale at Homestead.

Even if that were the case, Gaughan's teammate, Ty Dillon, would have to win at Homestead to overcome Crafton's 46-point lead. Dillon is the only driver with a mathematical chance to overtake Crafton, and it's a slim chance at that.

Accordingly, it's easy to forgive Crafton for starting to look ahead and savor a title that isn't quite official.

"I think we have to go to Homestead and start," said Crafton, who has finished in the top 10 in NCWTS points for six consecutive seasons and eight of the last nine, but has never won a championship. "I think I'm all right with that. It's going to feel damn good to go to Homestead and forget about everything and race like hell."

But to Crafton, 37, there's another important benefit to holding a 46-point lead.

"Sleep … just being able to sleep, that's the coolest thing," Crafton said. "I'm not going to lie. For the last month and a half, it's been tough."

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Steven B. Wilson

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