NASCAR Truck Series: Matt Crafton and Nick Sanchez fined for Talladega fight

Christian Eckes, driver of the #19 BlueDEF Platinum Chevrolet, Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Door/Menards Ford, and Nick Sanchez, driver of the #2 Gainbridge Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Toyota 200 at WWT Raceway on June 03, 2023 in Madison, Illinois.

Following their fight after the Truck Series race at Talladega, Matt Crafton has been fined $25k and Nick Sanchez fined $5,000.

NASCAR Officials announced this morning the penalties for the two drivers, Matt Crafton and Nick Sanchez, involved in the fight following the Love’s Truck Stop 250 at Talladega Superspeedway. Crafton will receive a 25,000-dollar penalty for his actions. Sanchez will receive a 5,000-dollar penalty. His father, Rene Sanchez, will be suspended for the season’s last two races.

The whole incident started over a wreck on lap 92 of Saturday’s Truck Series race. Matt Crafton believes Nick Sanchez caused the big wreck because he dived to the inside of Crafton but checked up. While checking up, Sanchez turned the #88 F-150, causing the massive pile-up. Ten trucks were involved in the incident.

Senior Vice President of Competition, Elton Sawyer, was on NASCAR Radio this morning to discuss the reasoning for the fines. Crafton was given a heavier penalty because he had time to think over what happened off-track before initiating a fight. Sanchez received the penalty for his threats following the fight. Sawyer said suspensions were on the table as a punishment.

Matt Crafton has not responded to the penalty, yet. Nick Sanchez has responded to the penalty, posting a response on Twitter;

Why is this penalty fair?

I believe this penalty is fair retribution for all the parties involved. I agree with NASCAR’s decision-making when it comes to the fine amounts. Crafton had time to think over what happened, maybe cool off, and approach the situation more calmly. Sanchez’s comments, as Sawyer said on NASCAR radio, understandable that you are in the heat of the moment, cannot be said.

While suspensions can be useful in certain applications, this was not one.

NASCAR has the tough job of policing fights, and dishing out the punishments afterwards. Earlier this year, Noah Gragson and Ross Chastain fought following the first race at Kansas Speedway. No penalties came from that altercation.

What happens next for Crafton and Sanchez?

Nick Sanchez made a statement following his release from the infield medical center and mentioned he might have a broken nose. No update on that has been given. Sanchez and the #2 team for REV Racing are currently fighting for a spot in the championship four. The #2 is +3 above the cut-off line going into the second to last race of the season, Homestead-Miami. This will be his first trip to his hometown track in the Truck Series, and I think he has some fire to go win the race and lock himself into Phoenix and the championship race.

Matt Crafton has had a tough 2023. He barely made it into the playoffs and was eliminated after the first round. The #88 Menard’s team only has two top-fives and eight top tens. Many on social media were calling for Crafton’s retirement. While this year has been a struggle for him, I think he might have a win still in the tank. Will it come this season, not likely, they are not running well enough for that to happen.

We can only watch and see if this incident will affect any on-track action. I think Crafton might make these final two races hard on Sanchez. If that is so, NASCAR might have to get involved.

The Truck Series is back on track on Saturday, October 21st, at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Baptist Health 200.