Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sauter, Crafton, ThorSport Frustrated No Longer


Sauter, Crafton, ThorSport Frustrated No Longer
Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton were frustrated over (and growing tired of) answering questions about their top-to-bottom of the standings spiral in the first four months of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season.
Suggestions swirled that ThorSport Racing’s switch from longtime manufacturer Chevrolet to Toyota somehow had monkey-wrenched the gears of the series’ longest-running, full-time organization.
Sauter and Crafton’s performance June 8 at Texas Motor Speedway put an end to those questions. Starting 20th and 10th, respectively, in a field set via the series rule book, the pair finished first and second.
The one-two finish was the second for ThorSport, duplicating the Sauter-Crafton run of September 2009 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Sauter’s first of five NCWTS victories.
Absent his 2012 struggles, just one finish higher than 24th, Sauter’s Texas performance could have been predicted. He had the dominant truck a year ago, got to the finish line first but was penalized for a final restart violation.
Redemption? Absolutely.
"There’s no sweeter vindication," said Sauter, whose last victory came in 2011’s rain-abbreviated season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. "I couldn't be prouder of [crew chief] Joe Shear and the guys at ThorSport. The driver's only a small part of the equation. That truck could pretty much drive itself."

Seventh Different Winner Sets Season-Opening Record
Seven different winners to begin the 2012 season and counting. And that’s a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series record.
Sauter’s Texas Motor Speedway victory eclipsed 2004 as the most competitive beginning of 17 previous campaigns. Ironically, the Fort Worth event produced that season’s first repeat winner, Dennis Setzer.
Sauter is the third driver to win both this year and last, joining Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne. The 2012 season has produced three first-time winners – James Buescher, John King and Justin Lofton. Dover winner Todd Bodine broke a winless drought dating to 2010.
Among last year’s winners yet to visit Victory Lane are Crafton, four-time series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. and Timothy Peters. Poised to possibly score breakthrough wins are Sunoco Rookie of the Year leader Ty Dillon, Parker Kligerman, Nelson Piquet Jr. and Joey Coulter.
Dillon, Kligerman and Piquet all have posted second-place finishes. Coulter’s third place – a virtual photo finish with Crafton in Texas – was a career best for the 2011 Sunoco Rookie of the Year.

Lofton Extends Points Lead With Another Top 10
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings leader Justin Lofton’s season can be defined by one word: solid.
Lofton and his Eddie Sharp Racing team continued their near-flawless performance in Texas leading the most laps and scoring a seventh consecutive top-10 finish. The numbers tell the tale. Lofton’s Driver Rating of 108.3 is second best only to fourth-place Buescher (112.6). The Californian, one of five to complete all 1,174 laps of competition, has spent a NCWTS leading 96.1% of those serials among the top 15.
Lofton hadn’t led a lap until last month’s Charlotte race, which he won, but has been out front for 121 laps over his past three starts. That ranks No. 3 to Buescher and Piquet.
The off-road champion led the standings by a single point entering last week’s Texas race and emerged with an advantage of five. Lofton finished ninth to current runner-up Peters, who was 11th.
Rookie sensation Dillon led as late as the 134th of 167 laps before finishing seventh and, 12 points behind in third, also recorded his seventh straight top 10. Buescher and Kligerman complete the top five in the standings.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Etc.
 Brendan Gaughan finished fourth, his first top five since last year’s June stop at Kentucky Speedway, to pace the three Texas winners in the field. Hornaday was 12th while engine-related issues sent Todd Bodine to the garage after completing only 31 laps. … Wauters Racing owner Richie Wauters fielded a two-car late model effort in Tuesday’s race at The Milwaukee Mile for his son Spencer and Aric Almirola. … NASCAR Camping World Truck teams take a two-week break before Kentucky Speedway hosts the Thursday, June 28, UNOH 225.

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