The driver of the No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota Tundra will have a new crew chief in 2022. Junior Joiner will step away from NASCAR and return to California, ending a decade-long tenure with Matt Crafton.
FS1 broadcaster Vince Welch first broke the news during the Camping World Truck Series championship race on Friday, November 5. He said that Joiner will step away from stock car racing. Frontstretch then caught up with both Crafton and his crew chief, who confirmed that there will be changes on the horizon.
“Yeah, I’m done,” Joiner told Frontstretch. He continued and said that his reason for leaving NASCAR and ThorSport Racing is that it is time for him to be a dad. He will spend time with his family and occasionally “pop up” at the track, but he won’t be a crew chief.
The California Duo Began Working Together in 2012
Crafton and Joiner have achieved considerable success together in the Camping World Truck Series. They first joined forces in 2012 and posted 14 top-10 finishes and eight top-fives during the 22-race schedule. The duo then turned in an even better season in 2013, reaching Victory Lane for the first time and posting an average finish of 7.9 before ending the season as champions.
Crafton and Joiner continued to achieve success on the track in 2014 with two more wins, 17 top-10 finishes, 13 top-fives, and an average finish of 7.0. They won their second consecutive title after holding off Ryan Blaney and Bubba Wallace, who finished second and third in the standings, respectively.
Crafton and Joiner combined for a total of 13 wins, 82 top-fives, and 158 top-10s during their 10 seasons together. They won a total of three championships, including a 2019 season in which they walked away with the trophy without winning a race. Crafton reached the championship four and finished second in the final race of the season, ahead of Ross Chastain, Brett Moffitt, and Stewart Friesen.
They came within reach of a fourth title after securing a spot in the 2021 championship four alongside John Hunter Nemechek, Ben Rhodes, and Zane Smith. However, handling issues derailed Crafton’s evening and led to a 12th-place finish while teammate Rhodes locked up his first career championship with a strong performance.
Crafton Has Shifted His Focus to Finding a New Crew Chief
The 2021 Truck Series season is complete, and Crafton sits fourth in the championship standings. He will now look ahead to helping find a new crew chief, one that will play a significant role in his quest for a fourth title.
Losing Joiner is not the best outcome for Crafton, but he has achieved success with a variety of crew chiefs in a full-time career that began in 2001. He has worked with multiple figures, including Bud Haefele (2005-2011), Wally Rogers (2004), and Jerry Cook (2001-2003). He posted two of his wins with Haefele and finished second in points in the 2009 season.
A Truck Series lifer, Crafton has continued to perform in a variety of machines, and he will strive to continue this trend during the 2022 season. He will work with a new crew chief and will drive the new 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro while focusing on adding more wins to his resume.