(INDIANAPOLIS - July 27, 2012) - If the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell winner at Lucas Oil Raceway looked like someone who had driven a dozen races at the track, that's because he has done just that.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series veteran Matt Crafton went out third in a qualifying session delayed slightly by rain over western Indianapolis, and set the standard right away. Crafton's lap of 22.204 seconds (111.223 mph) topped Mason Mitchell by 0.088 second and established a new ARCA qualifying record at the track, easily topping Ty Dillon's 2011 mark.
James Messina, vice president of race sponsor Messina Wildlife Management, presented the award to Crafton, who has 11 prior Truck Series starts and an ARCA start at the track. Crafton finished 32nd in his ARCA appearance at Lucas Oil last year.
"I love coming in and driving the Menards/Messina Wildlife Management car," said Crafton, 36, who is making his fifth career ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards start and first of 2012. "Menards gives me a great opportunity doing this once or twice a year so I've got to make the best of it. Last year, we didn't run quite as well as we should have, but these guys went back and built a good car and it's great to have (ThorSport Racing teammate) Frank (Kimmel) in the camp this year. At the end of the day, we definitely want to get that trophy.
Crafton has seven career Truck Series poles, including one this year at Kentucky. He said that intermittent rain over Lucas Oil Raceway did little to change his approach, as the track is usually slippery anyway.
Mitchell, who is making just his second ARCA start in tonight's Messina Wildlife Animal Stopper 200 presented by Federated Car Care, will start second. Chad Hackenbracht, Kevin Swindell, and Matt Lofton will fill out the top five.
Other notables include: Kimmel, who will start eighth; fellow title contenders Alex Bowman, Chris Buescher, and Brennan Poole in three consecutive spots from 10th through 12th; and last year's fifth-place finisher Tom Hessert starting 15th.
Tonight's race will begin at 9 p.m. and air live on SPEED. ARCARacing.com will host live timing and scoring coverage of the 200-lap, 137.2-mile race, which will start after an ARCA CRA Super Series feature, the Fatheadz 100.