MATT CRAFTON ANNOUNCED AS IWK 250 CELEBRITY DRIVER
JAMES RIVER, NS (June 10, 2014) – For the second straight year the IWK 250 presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body has attracted a NASCAR national series champion. Defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NTS) champion Matt Crafton will be at Riverside International Speedway July 19 for Canada’s biggest short track stock car race.
“I can’t get enough short track racing,” said Crafton, driver of the ThorSport Racing No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra. “Our series (NTS) races a bunch of big facilities but there is just something about a cozy little short track like Riverside on a Saturday night that brings back a lot of great memories of where we came from, and at the same time gives us a chance to see some of the kids that may make their name in our sport in the future.”
Crafton’s appearance at the IWK 250 comes on the heels of that in 2013 of 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski, and Crafton’s appearance is the latest in a long line of NASCAR celebrities to have entered the event since its reincarnation in 2007, including Keselowski, Aric Almirola, Marcos Ambrose, Ricky Craven, Joey Logano, David Reutimann, and Regan Smith. Smith is the only NASCAR driver that has won the IWK 250.
Crafton will test his talent among the best short track racers in eastern Canada who enter the IWK 250 for a multitude of reasons: it is a championship points race on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour; it has the biggest guaranteed purse in the region; it attracts the biggest crowd of any summer sporting event in the Maritimes in nearly 15,000 spectators over the course of the weekend; it attracts the biggest RV gathering of any summer sporting event in the Maritimes with over 800 campers; and perhaps most important for the racers – the prestige of being an IWK 250 winner.
A native of Tulare, California, Crafton started racing at the age of seven in go-karts moving into midgets and mini sports where he won multiple races and regional championships. His first full-bodied stock car race was at age 15 as substitute driver for his injured father, Danny Crafton. After just four years in the Featherlite Southwest Series he won the 2000 title which led to his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut for ThorSport Racing, also in 2000. Since then he has accumulated five wins, two of those coming this season (in six starts), most recently last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. He holds the NTS record for the most consecutive starts with 322 since making his series debut.
Crafton will drive the No. 14 Cat Car for Kids in the IWK 250 and make an appearance at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax prior to the IWK 250 where patients and their families can visit with him as well as sign his race car as co-sponsors with Atlantic Cat. The car, along with Crafton’s team, will be provided by Nova Racing which fields cars for Donald Chisholm and George Koszkulics.
2014 marks the sixth year Atlantic Cat has presented the ‘Cat Car for Kids’ program and the company is honoured to continue its participation in an event that supports something as worthy as the IWK Health Centre.
“It is a great testament to the success of the IWK 250 that Riverside has been able to attract yet another NASCAR national series champion,” said Dan MacLeod, Atlantic Cat. “It is indeed an honour for Matt Crafton to be the pilot of the No. 14 Cat Car for Kids in an event that can only be described as the best short track racing most fans will ever see.”
“The owners and management at Riverside are to be commended for their unwavering support of a cause that brings so much hope and healing to young children,” continued MacLeod. “Our worst days are often their best days, yet they still possess a wonderful spirit and have smiles on their faces.”
The IWK 250 will be Crafton’s second race in Canada, with the first coming last year at an NTS event in Ontario. Crafton’s recollection of Canadian fans at that race has him looking forward to Riverside.
“The fan support and enthusiasm was just amazing,” said Crafton. “When they show you that much passion you want to race hard and put on a show for them.”
Advance tickets for the IWK 250 will be available starting the week of June 16; campsites are available now and going fast (all sites must be reserved in advance, i.e. no drive ups and no overnight parking between July 16 and 20 without a permit).
The 2014 season at Riverside gets underway this Saturday with the Ron MacGillivray 150 for the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour along with the Highland Building Centres 50 for the Napa Sportsman Series. Pro stock time trials start at 5:10 p.m. and racing starts at 6. Advance tickets are available at www.riversidespeedway.ca or by calling 902.863.2410. Permits are not required for overnight parking this weekend.
Besides being a great race the IWK 250 helps raise awareness and funding for the IWK Health Centre with more than $150,000 donated over the past seven years, in addition to a surprise one million dollar donation made by track owner John Chisholm and his family during the opening ceremonies for the 2013 IWK 250.
Riverside International Speedway is recognized as a premier stock racing facility in Canada. The 1/3-mile high banked asphalt oval roars to action several times a year for special events. It is the home for eastern Canada’s only NASCAR event, and of the IWK 250 – widely known as the best stock car race in Canada. Located in James River, between New Glasgow and Antigonish, the facility is easily accessible at exit 30 on Trans Canada Highway 104. For more information call 902.863.2410 or visit www.riversidespeedway.ca.
Photo by Getty Images/NASCAR Media