Matt Crafton Sponsored by Menards Johnny Sauter Sponsored by Hot Honeys ThorSport 13 Jeb Burton

OUR NEWS

  • Matt Crafton
  • Johnny Sauter
  • Jeb Burton
  • ThorSport Racing - ARCA
  • ThorSport Racing

Crafton - Charlotte Motor Speedway Post-Race

Charlotte 2nd frustrates Crafton but opens point lead

Last Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, for the second consecutive NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Matt Crafton's No. 88 Hormel / Menards Toyota Tundra finished second to Kyle Busch.

Not surprisingly, Crafton's no more happy about it than he was two weeks ago in Kansas.

"I'm getting tired of it," Crafton said immediately after the North Carolina Education Lottery 200. "You're getting beat by one of the best in the business, but it still doesn't make it any sweeter because I want to win these races."

On the positive side, defending NCWTS champion Crafton did open his lead in the Truck Series' standings to 11 points over Timothy Peters.

But it was hard to take much solace from that after a crazy one-day race that resulted from four hours of Thursday practice being rained-out. The teams practiced for two hours Friday morning -- in conditions that were radically different from the night conditions they raced under at the drastically temperature-sensitive Charlotte oval.

Crafton qualified second in a wild Keystone Light Pole Qualifying that saw the final round settled with seconds remaining on the final lap when the 12 cars in the round went out virtually en masse.

But the conditions put Crafton in position to tiptoe early in the race to prevent getting involved on a night in which nine cautions flew for the second straight race.

"I just tried to be patient," Crafton said. "We started the night off -- we were definitely off -- really tight. The place didn't free up quite as much as it usually does from what I've seen. We just kept making small adjustments on it to make it better.

"We made it quite a bit better for the short run -- I could run with Kyle (Busch). I ran about five (truck lengths) back from him for five, six, seven laps then I got tight just like I was all night. I think if we had one more adjustment I don't think he would have been able to drive away from us like he did at the end right there."

Once the early pit-stop strategy shook out, Crafton consistently was the best-positioned of the three ThorSport Racing Tundras in the race. On the final restart, with 13 laps-to-go Crafton and ThorSport teammates Johnny Sauter and Jeb Burton lined-up second, third and fourth respectively behind Busch.

But as Crafton had alluded to earlier, once the green flag flew Busch checked-out. Right after Busch took the white flag Burton got run into a lapped car while racing for third and with the last-lap caution -- the seventh in the second half of the race as opposed to two in the first half -- the race was over.

"That's just the way it is in racing," Crafton said. "I've heard them say before, 'cautions breed cautions' (but) all in all, not a bad night. This Menard's Toyota Tundra was pretty good."

Crafton gets his next chance to go for a Truck Series win on May 30 at Dover International Speedway, as part of a NASCAR tripleheader with the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series.


ABOUT MENARDS:
With 287 stores in 14 Midwestern states, Menards has the tools, materials and supplies for all your home improvement needs whether just needing a light bulb or can of paint to building a deck or new home. Menards is known throughout the home improvement industry as the low price leader; it's no wonder their famous slogan - "SAVE BIG MONEY" - is so widely known and easy to remember. Menards does things right - the company's strength and success can be seen in the well-stocked and maintained stores, the lowest prices in town and the way guests are always treated like family in a hometown hardware store atmosphere.

ABOUT HORMEL®:
Hormel® pepperoni is the No. 1 selling brand of pepperoni in the United States, thanks to its great flavor and high quality. Everyone knows pepperoni tastes great on pizza, but enterprising cooks rely on its delicious spicy flavor to add zest to a wide variety of dishes. In addition to perking up pizza, pepperoni is an ideal partner for sandwiches, salads, pasta or nachos! Since 1891, the Hormel® brand has been synonymous with quality, value and innovation. For more about Hormel® visit www.hormel.com .

ABOUT THORSPORT RACING:
ThorSport Racing, based in a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is the longest-tenured NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. ThorSport, which has run in the Truck Series since 1996, in 2014 will run the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by 2013 drivers' champion Matt Crafton, the No. 98 Nextant Aerospace/Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff/Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records Toyota Tundra driven by Johnny Sauter and the No. 13 Carolina Nut Co. Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton in the Truck Series and the No. 13 Toyota Camry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.

 

Crafton - Charlotte Motor Speedway Pre-Race

NCWTS leader Crafton craving Charlotte homestand

Matt Crafton's hoping a spectacular statistical history at Charlotte Motor Speedway -- including his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory -- helps him score his second win at both the site of Friday night's North Carolina Education Lottery 200 as well as his second victory this season in his No. 88 Hormel / Menards Toyota Tundra.

Crafton got his first wish of the weekend granted when all of Thursday's on-track activity was washed-out by rain.

Friday's schedule was adjusted to include a single, two-hour practice session from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. ET. The final hour is scheduled to be televised on FOX Sports 1.

Crafton, for one, wasn't sorry to see Thursday's four hours of practice wiped out as he and his two ThorSport Racing teammates, Johnny Sauter and Jeb Burton, tested on the fast, 1.5-mile oval about a month ago.

"The biggest thing when we tested here and in general with the 2014 Tundra and all the (other) manufacturers is that it's brand new for everybody so we had no idea when we tested here," Crafton said. "I hope it rains like hell the rest of the day to be totally honest because we tested here and we feel like we have a pretty good balance on it.

"There are a few of these teams that have pretty fast trucks that didn't come to the test so I hope it rains the rest of the day."

With that actually occurring there's no question Crafton is one of the favorites for Friday night. The driver who owns the Truck Series' current consecutive starts streak -- 319 -- has the most career Truck Series starts at CMS, with 11. In that time he's accrued the most top-10 finishes, eight, the most lead-lap finishes, 10, and the most laps completed, 1,459, while finishing every race.

And while ThorSport is based in Sandusky, Ohio, about a nine-hour drive from Charlotte, Crafton's current residence is in nearby Mooresville, N.C., and he's very well aware what a win at Charlotte means.

"I look forward to racing at Charlotte -- I always look forward to coming to Charlotte," Crafton said on Thursday. "It's the site of my first win and it's really cool because the majority of the teams are based out of the Charlotte area and our team is based out of Sandusky.

"Everybody has their pride of coming to Charlotte to try to win in their own backyard. To be able to come here and try to steal the pride from those guys is very cool. We did it a few years back (2008)."

Crafton, whose average Charlotte start is 12.7 but whose average finish is 9.3 after he scored top-10 finishes in his first seven starts here, finished fourth a year ago. After finishing runner-up to Kyle Busch last week at Kansas, Crafton obviously would like nothing better than to go one spot better at the checkers Friday -- and he feels like Charlotte is his house.

Even better, he learned a week ago how to avoid the wreck-fest that developed at Kansas.

"I kept looking in my mirror and saw people making the mistakes and I'm sure there are going to be a lot of (drivers) that are a lot smarter (Friday) night as well, racing side-by-side," Crafton said. "This place -- the tire is a lot grippier and the track is starting to wear out so you're going to be able to run side-by-side a lot better (Friday) night.

"Charlotte is all about great racing. The greatest thing about Charlotte Motor Speedway is you can move around. If your truck isn't handling you can find someplace -- high or low -- where you can make gains and I love that."

Friday afternoon the 33 entered trucks will have the Truck Series' second multi-segment, elimination-style group Keystone Light Pole Qualifying session to set the up-to 36-truck starting lineup on Friday at 5:40 p.m., with live coverage on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 5:30.

Friday evening's 134-lap, 201-mile main event will be telecast live on FOX Sports 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET, preceded by The Setup pre-race show at 8. The live broadcast on MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio begins with pre-race coverage at 8. Live timing & scoring for the weekend's events will be at www.nascar.com.

ABOUT MENARDS:
With 287 stores in 14 Midwestern states, Menards has the tools, materials and supplies for all your home improvement needs whether just needing a light bulb or can of paint to building a deck or new home. Menards is known throughout the home improvement industry as the low price leader; it's no wonder their famous slogan - "SAVE BIG MONEY" - is so widely known and easy to remember. Menards does things right - the company's strength and success can be seen in the well-stocked and maintained stores, the lowest prices in town and the way guests are always treated like family in a hometown hardware store atmosphere.

ABOUT HORMEL®:
Hormel® pepperoni is the No. 1 selling brand of pepperoni in the United States, thanks to its great flavor and high quality. Everyone knows pepperoni tastes great on pizza, but enterprising cooks rely on its delicious spicy flavor to add zest to a wide variety of dishes. In addition to perking up pizza, pepperoni is an ideal partner for sandwiches, salads, pasta or nachos! Since 1891, the Hormel® brand has been synonymous with quality, value and innovation. For more about Hormel® visit www.hormel.com .

ABOUT THORSPORT RACING:
ThorSport Racing, based in a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is the longest-tenured NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. ThorSport, which has run in the Truck Series since 1996, in 2014 will run the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by 2013 drivers' champion Matt Crafton, the No. 98 Nextant Aerospace/Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff/Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records Toyota Tundra driven by Johnny Sauter and the No. 13 Carolina Nut Co. Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton in the Truck Series and the No. 13 Toyota Camry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.

 

Crafton - Kansas Speedway - SFP 250 Post-Race

A year makes no difference to NCWTS leader Crafton

The past year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series didn't make much difference for Matt Crafton, who grabbed the series' championship lead Friday night after his No. 88 Goof Off / Menards Toyota Tundra finished runner-up to Kyle Busch  in the SFP 250 at Kansas Speedway.

Crafton, the defending winner of the season's third of 22 races, also took the lead in the championship a year ago -- when Kansas was the fourth round of the series. He held that advantage for the final 18 races of the 2013 season and won ThorSport Racing's first NASCAR championship.

Friday, Crafton started ninth and was a contender all night -- never being scored lower than seventh in the 167-lap event after taking the green flag. Crafton was the only driver in the 31-truck field besides race-winner Kyle Busch who never was scored outside the top 10.

After the race Crafton, who extended his series-best consecutive starts string to 319, finished on the lead lap for the 26th consecutive race and was running at the finish for the 45th consecutive race, said beating his buddy Busch would've been a tall order.

"(Busch) had a very, very fast truck," Crafton said of his fellow Tundra driver, who led a race-high 104 laps. "We started off the beginning of that (last) run, and the run before that, just a little bit free-in and I fought tight center-off.
 
"He allowed his to turn center-off a little bit better than ours. We were afraid to make any adjustments to help our center-off because we figured it was going to hurt us on (corner) entry. We decided to just stay a little bit tight."
 
While that left Crafton at the finish 3.02 seconds in arrears of Busch, who was scored no lower than third at any of the official scoring segments in becoming Kansas' 14th different winner in as many Truck races -- while winning Toyota's 115th Truck Series race -- Crafton was the big-picture victor.
 
Crafton grabbed the championship lead by eight points over Timothy Peters, who came to Kansas tied with Crafton's ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter but dropped back after finishing 14th.
 
Sauter fell back to fifth in the standings, 15 points behind Crafton, after he finished 21st after being swept up in a multi-truck accident on the 85th lap. 
 
Crafton and 2013 champion crew chief Carl "Junior" Joiner were in the minority of pairings that successfully figured out Kansas' first night race in its 14th annual NCWTS event. But even so, in a race that was slowed nine times for caution flags that consumed 46 laps, they were wary of making one change too many.
 
"We were just a little bit scared to -- we wanted to make maybe a track bar change -- but we were tight center-off all night," Crafton said. "We made one adjustment and made it quite a bit better.

"But, then I got a little bit free-in and tight-off. But, I was afraid to make any more adjustments to help my off because I knew it was going to hurt my entry. I was just a little bit too free.

"That's how (Busch) got by me when he did. Like I said, I kind of had to protect my entry for a little while. Once it finally come to me, I think I could run with (Busch). At the same time I got a little tight on the back-side of the corner."
 
By Crafton moving back into the championship lead, either he or Sauter has led the points after 24 of the last 25 Truck Series races, a rare accomplishment for one organizaton.
 
The Truck Series' next race is on May 16, when the series again races at night, on the similar 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway.

ABOUT MENARDS:
With 287 stores in 14 Midwestern states, Menards has the tools, materials and supplies for all your home improvement needs whether just needing a light bulb or can of paint to building a deck or new home. Menards is known throughout the home improvement industry as the low price leader; it's no wonder their famous slogan - "SAVE BIG MONEY" - is so widely known and easy to remember. Menards does things right - the company's strength and success can be seen in the well-stocked and maintained stores, the lowest prices in town and the way guests are always treated like family in a hometown hardware store atmosphere.
 
ABOUT GOOF OFF®:
Goof Off® has a history of introducing numerous products designed to help both professionals and homeowners eliminate messy mistakes that would otherwise ruin their belongings. Goof Off® products clean tough messes and mistakes around the home, garage and workshop. Owned by W.M. Barr & Company and based in Memphis, Tennessee, Goof Off® products are available for purchase at Menards and other major retailers and grocery stores or online at www.goofoffstainremover.com. Any questions about Goof Off® products, call 877-466-3633.
 
ABOUT THORSPORT RACING:
ThorSport Racing, based in a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is the longest-tenured NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. ThorSport, which has run in the Truck Series since 1996, in 2014 will run the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by 2013 drivers' champion Matt Crafton, the No. 98 Nextant Aerospace/Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff/Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records Toyota Tundra driven by Johnny Sauter and the No. 13 Carolina Nut Co. Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton in the Truck Series and the No. 13 Toyota Camry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.

 

Crafton - Kansas Speedway - SFP 250 Pre-Race

Crafton looks to maintain momentum in Kansas

Matt Crafton's lengthy legacy of excellence in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series came sharply into focus a year ago at Kansas Speedway, site of Friday night's SFP 250 for Crafton and his No. 88 Goof Off / Menards Toyota Tundra team.

Crafton won in bright sunshine a year ago while Friday's race will be the first night race for the Truck Series at Kansas. But one thing that hasn't changed is Crafton's level of performance, which resulted in the 2013 NCWTS drivers' championship.

And Kansas -- where Crafton's ThorSport Racing squad grabbed the points lead that it never relinquished -- was key.

"Kansas gave our team huge momentum last year," Crafton said. "We went to Martinsville a few weeks before that race and we finished second to our teammate Johnny (Sauter) and then we went to Rockingham and ran really good there and then we went to Kansas and won.

"That just took our momentum to a whole new level. After that we went to Dover and finished second to Kyle (Busch) so we just had a really, really good beginning to our summer stretch."

Crafton's done himself one better this season, in a manner of speaking. While his 13th-place finish at Daytona prevented him from equaling last season's 16 consecutive top-10 finishes to start the campaign, he won the series' most recent race, at Martinsville -- his fourth career win and the second with crew chief Carl "Junior" Joiner.

"We ran so well into the summer (of 2013) and then we got that big points lead," Crafton said. "Everybody always bugged me about having so many top-10 finishes last year and (only one) win.

"I just said, 'I have to do what I have to do. I'm not going to be that guy -- who lost the biggest points lead in Truck Series history.' Winning Kansas was really good for our momentum and it was really cool to be able to give Junior his first win, as well."

Crafton, who had seven of his series-best 19 top-10 finishes last season on intermediate speedways like Kansas, is optimistic and confident when it comes to what it will take to excel in the evening at the fast, high-banked track that was repaved between the 2012 and 2013 Truck Series races.

Despite having only five top-10 finishes in 13 career Kansas starts, Crafton believes what he saw last year at Kansas gives him and Joiner a pretty good direction.

"Having only been to Kansas one time on the new pavement, the groove started widening out," Crafton said of his experience a year ago. "I just watched some of the other races and listened to some of the other people complain about it, but now it seems like the weather has helped it even from last year.

"I'm sure it will even get better this year and we will have a little wider racing groove."

Crafton said flexibility will be key and so will dialing-in their Goof Off / Menards Tundra while practicing in the afternoon, while the race will be at night.

"I think with the racing being at night this year we are going to have to build a lot of adjustability into our Tundra," Crafton said. "Some tracks will loosen up at night and some tracks will tighten up at night with the sun going down.


"I have no idea what this track is going to do, but building-in plenty of adjustability is going to be key."

After opening inspection on Thursday morning the 32 entered trucks will have two practice sessions Thursday afternoon, from 2:30-3:30 p.m. ET and from 4-5:30. Neither has TV coverage scheduled on FOX Sports 1.

The Truck Series' inaugural -- since qualifying sessions at both Daytona and Martinsville were rained-out -- multi-segment, elimination-style group Keystone Light Pole Qualifying session to set the up-to 36-truck starting lineup is Friday at 4:40 p.m. ET, with live coverage on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 4:30.

Friday evening's 167-lap, 250.5-mile main event will be telecast live on FOX Sports 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET, preceded by The Setup pre-race show at 8. The live broadcast on MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio begins with pre-race coverage at 8. Live timing & scoring for the weekend's events will be at www.nascar.com.

ABOUT MENARDS:

With 287 stores in 14 Midwestern states, Menards has the tools, materials and supplies for all your home improvement needs whether just needing a light bulb or can of paint to building a deck or new home. Menards is known throughout the home improvement industry as the low price leader; it's no wonder their famous slogan - "SAVE BIG MONEY" - is so widely known and easy to remember. Menards does things right - the company's strength and success can be seen in the well-stocked and maintained stores, the lowest prices in town and the way guests are always treated like family in a hometown hardware store atmosphere.

ABOUT GOOF OFF?:

Goof Off? has a history of introducing numerous products designed to help both professionals and homeowners eliminate messy mistakes that would otherwise ruin their belongings. Goof Off? products clean tough messes and mistakes around the home, garage and workshop. Owned by W.M. Barr & Company and based in Memphis, Tennessee, Goof Off? products are available for purchase at Menards and other major retailers and grocery stores or online at www.goofoffstainremover.com. Any questions about Goof Off? products, call 877-466-3633.

ABOUT THORSPORT RACING:

ThorSport Racing, based in a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is the longest-tenured NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. ThorSport, which has run in the Truck Series since 1996, in 2014 will run the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by 2013 drivers' champion Matt Crafton, the No. 98 Nextant Aerospace/Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff/Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records Toyota Tundra driven by Johnny Sauter and the No. 13 Carolina Nut Co. Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton in the Truck Series and the No. 13 Toyota Camry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.

Crafton - Martinsville Speedway Post-Race

Crafton grabs Martinsville clock with Kroger 250 win

Defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers' champion Matt Crafton kicked his 2014 title run into high gear with a cherished first career victory -- and the grandfather clock that comes with it -- Sunday evening in the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway in his No. 88 Ideal Door / Menards Toyota Tundra.

The race, originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon but postponed by rain until Sunday following the NASCAR Sprint Cup STP 500, took the green flag just after 5:30 p.m. ET and finished almost two hours later at dusk.

As intense as the race's closing stages were, Crafton found some comic relief in discussing whether or not he thought the race would run its full distance.
"I knew it was going to be close, especially right there at the end when we got the lead," Crafton said. "I think it was like 15 (laps) to go, you could definitely see it was getting dark and then it was five to go and we went green at that point -- it was getting dark and I told them it was getting dark.
 
"I knew they weren't going to listen to the guy that was leading the race (laughing).'Oh yeah, he's screaming dark.'  I knew we were going to get it in at that point."
   
Crafton scored his fourth career NCWTS victory and his first since Kansas last spring by leading the race twice for 47 laps -- but most crucially by holding off two former Martinsville winners, Timothy Peters and Darrell Wallace Jr., on three restarts in the final seven laps, including two green-white-checkered restarts.
 
"Those last restarts I wanted to throw up in my helmet because I know what that grandfather clock would mean to all of us to be able to get that," Crafton said. "I was just trying to anticipate each green flag in that (restart) box and Timothy (Peters) kept lagging back so far. I would see him coming with a run and you don't want to fire too soon or too late and he's going to drive back by you.

"The second-to-last restart he almost went by me into Turn 1 and I got him held out there.I thought we would be all right then (but I was) just trying to be smart and not overdrive (Turn) 1. I thought I gave one away -- I drove it in there and I wheel-hopped and got loose getting into 1 and I said, 'Oh, don't do that again.'"

With the victory, Crafton moved to third in the championship, four points behind ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter -- who finished fourth in his No. 98 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff / Curb Records Tundra -- and Peters.

"I didn't think we were going to get it right, there, on those first two runs but that's just the way these ThorSport guys on my team never give up," Crafton said. "We made a track bar adjustment, another track bar adjustment, air pressure adjustment and finally we got that thing 'on.'

"I can't thank, like I said, every one of these guys (enough) -- Menards, Ideal Door, Toyota Tundra and those guys that raced me clean.Peters back there at the end and Bubba (Wallace Jr.) was back there and he couldn't move me."
 
Crafton's win gave Toyota its 114th Tundra victory and victories in the Truck Series' first two races for the sixth time, including 2013 when Sauter won them both -- including a one-two Martinsville finish with Crafton.
 
The most special aspect was it gave Crafton and wife Ashley the domestic conundrum of what to do with Martinsville's famous grandfather clock victor's trophy. Laughing the whole time, Crafton said that wouldn't be a problem.
 
"Finally got that grandfather clock," Crafton said through a grin, referring to his previous 26 unsuccessful attempts. "It's going to go somewhere in the living room without a doubt.My wife always tells me I get (a year)...

"The championship trophy, it sits by the front door and she says I can keep that one there for this year and hopefully we can put one there for next year.But she only lets me keep the (race) trophy in the living room area for one year until the next race to see if we can put another one back there."

Crafton gets his next chance on May 9, where he'll be defending champion at Kansas Speedway.

ABOUT MENARDS: With 287 stores in 14 Midwestern states, Menards has the tools, materials and supplies for all your home improvement needs whether just needing a light bulb or can of paint to building a deck or new home. Menards is known throughout the home improvement industry as the low price leader; it's no wonder their famous slogan - "SAVE BIG MONEY" - is so widely known and easy to remember. Menards does things right - the company's strength and success can be seen in the well-stocked and maintained stores, the lowest prices in town and the way guests are always treated like family in a hometown hardware store atmosphere.
 
ABOUT IDEAL DOOR: Since 1963, Ideal Door has been an industry leader in sectional garage doors and the preferred choice of home owners, architects and builders for their current and future door needs. For more information, visit www.idealdoors.com.

ABOUT THORSPORT RACING: ThorSport Racing, based in a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is the longest-tenured NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. ThorSport, which has run in the Truck Series since 1996, in 2014 will run the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by 2013 drivers' champion Matt Crafton, the No. 98 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff/Nextant Aerospace/Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records Toyota Tundra driven by Johnny Sauter and the No. 13 VAMP/VaporBrands International, Inc. Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton in the Truck Series and the No. 13 Toyota Camry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.

Crafton - Martinsville Speedway Pre-Race

Crafton looks to go 'one better' at Martinsville

Matt Crafton has enough positive karma left over from his 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series experiences at Martinsville Speedway that he has every reason to believe his No. 88 Ideal Door / Menards Toyota Tundra can end up in Victory Lane following Saturday's Kroger 250 .

"We were lined-up and ready to make something happen last fall when those guys in front of me decided to take each other out," Crafton said of October's Kroger 200. "We absolutely felt like we had a Menards Tundra to finish one spot better than we did in the spring but it just wasn't meant to be."

In the 2013 Kroger 250, Crafton -- whose 17th-place Martinsville finish last fall was barely a hiccup on his way to last season's NCWTS drivers' championship -- finished a fast-closing second behind record-tying ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter.

ThorSport's third career one-two finish was in the same order as the first two -- Sauter beating Crafton -- and the senior ThorSport driver, who's starting his 13th season racing for owners Duke and Rhonda Thorson would like nothing better than to mix it up.

"Johnny kicked-off last season winning two-straight and that was great," Crafton said. "But our team won at Kansas -- three out of the first four for ThorSport -- and me and my guys want to win more, this season so we feel like Martinsville's the best place to start."

In the closing laps last fall Crafton was third behind Richard Childress Racing "allies" Kevin Harvick and Ty Dillon when the pair tangled exiting Turn 2. Crafon couldn't avoid their nearly-stopped trucks and the damage to his Tundra knocked him to the back end of the top 20.

"Junior (crew chief Carl Joiner Jr.) and my guys know exactly what we need to do at Martinsville -- we had darn good Tundras there twice last year," Crafton said. "If that doggoned shoving match hadn't broke out in front of us last year I still feel like we had a shot to win in the fall.

"And you know, in the spring, if we had 25 more laps to race there might've been a different ThorSport Tundra in Victory Lane.

Crafton, who with his team set a 19-year Truck Series record by completing every lap -- in all, 3,391 -- raced in 22 events last season, continued that roll in the 2014 Daytona opener. There's no reason it can't continue.

"Junior and I feel like our 2014 Tundra is going to continue the level of performance we had last season, and at Martinsville that was pretty good," Crafton said. "In the end we had a truck that would stop, turn and dig up off the corner and obviously that's what you need at Martinsville."

While most of the Truck Series field has been idle since the Daytona opener in February, Crafton's been active weekly. He served as stand-by driver for Richard Childress Racing Sprint Cup pilot Paul Menard while Menard and wife Jenn awaited the birth of their first daughter, Remi.

Crafton also made his fourth career NASCAR Nationwide Series start, all of them for RCR and three of them top-10 finishes, in March at Las Vegas.

"It was good keeping my hand on a steering wheel, but even better helping out a friend like Paul," Crafton said. "Seat time's always a good thing, and those Menards cars were some of the best."

After opening inspection on Thursday afternoon, Martinsville's Truck weekend's on-track activity opens with extra practice time on Friday. The trucks hit the track from 9 - 11:45 a.m. ET and for final practice from 3 - 4:25 p.m. The latter session will be televised live on FOX Sports 1.

The Truck Series' inaugural -- since Daytona's qualifying session was rained-out -- multi-segment, elimination-style group Keystone Light Pole Qualifying session to set the36-truck starting lineup is Saturday at 11:10 a.m., again with live coverage on FOX Sports 1, beginning at 11.

Saturday's 250-lap, 131.5-mile main event will be telecast live on FOX Sports 1 at 2:30 p.m. ET. The live broadcast on MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio begins with pre-race coverage at 2. Live timing & scoring for the weekend's events will be at www.nascar.com.

ABOUT MENARDS: With 287 stores in 14 Midwestern states, Menards has the tools, materials and supplies for all your home improvement needs whether just needing a light bulb or can of paint to building a deck or new home. Menards is known throughout the home improvement industry as the low price leader; it's no wonder their famous slogan - "SAVE BIG MONEY" - is so widely known and easy to remember. Menards does things right - the company's strength and success can be seen in the well-stocked and maintained stores, the lowest prices in town and the way guests are always treated like family in a hometown hardware store atmosphere.

ABOUT IDEAL DOOR: Since 1963, Ideal Door has been an industry leader in sectional garage doors and the preferred choice of home owners, architects and builders for their current and future door needs. For more information, visit www.idealdoors.com.

ABOUT THORSPORT RACING: ThorSport Racing, based in a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is the longest-tenured NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. ThorSport, which has run in the Truck Series since 1996, in 2014 will run the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by 2013 drivers' champion Matt Crafton, the No. 98 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff/Nextant Aerospace/Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records Toyota Tundra driven by Johnny Sauter and the No. 13 VAMP/VaporBrands International, Inc. Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton in the Truck Series and the No. 13 Toyota Camry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.

Crafton - Daytona International Speedway Post-Race

Crafton opens NCWTS title defense with low-key Daytona

Matt Crafton opened the defense of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers' championship with a low-key 13th-place run Friday night in his No. 88 Fisher Nuts / Menards Toyota Tundra in the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

Crafton started the weekend strong as he spent time atop the time sheets during the event's three practice sessions and ended up in the top five in all of them.

When the Truck Series' inaugural elimination-style group qualifying session was rained out earlier Friday, Crafton earned the fourth starting position based on his practice speeds.

However, that was the best his familiar bright yellow Tundra would show all night -- though he did get back to fifth with just 10 laps to go during a wild, 11-lap run to the finish after the fourth and final caution period in the 100-lap race.

"I hesitated as those other guys made a move and I thought I should've stayed outside, but I never thought the 17 (Timothy Peters) would make the run that he did," Crafton said on pit road after the race. "So that was 100 percent my fault. I guess I should have tried to jump up in front of him and see what I could do.

"But like I said, I take that one on the chin because I should've known enough to jump up and try it, but it was a shame, because I just didn't do it."

Much as the 2013 opener had been, Friday night's race turned into a struggle to maintain track position and, unlike a year ago when ThorSport teammate Todd Bodine hooked-up with Crafton in the last run and pushed him to ninth in a tandem draft, this time around that wasn't allowed.

And Bodine, at any rate, was a member of the FOX Sports 1 TV crew downstairs in the "Hollywood Hotel." Crafton certainly could've used some tandem help when he fell back as far as 32nd with 40 laps to go.

"It was a real adjustment because you could bump, but you couldn't lock (bumpers) and push at all,": Crafton said of NASCAR's latest mandate banning tandem drafting in which one truck locks its bumper to a partner and literally pushes the second truck around the racetrack at a much higher speed than either vehicle could attain on its own. "It is what it is and you definitely didn't want to hit your team truck too hard and wreck him, so you were limited in what you could do."

All bets seemed off when the fourth and final restart flag waved on the 90th lap.

"No, no, no," Crafton said when asked if he ever thought there wouldn't be a caution in the race's final laps, where plenty of paint was traded as about 15-20 trucks raced side-by-side for the last 11 laps. "There was no way -- never in my wildest dreams -- did I think we'd pull that off (laughing).

"I thought there would be a yellow, for sure and once we got the white (flag) I figured we were gonna finish the race upside-down and on fire. But I never thought we'd get to the finish line, the way everyone was beating and banging and just sliding all over the place."

Because several of the drivers that finished in front of Crafton, including race winner Kyle Busch and fourth place Ryan Truex aren't registered to earn Truck Series points, Crafton will go to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in five weeks 10th in the championship, 12 points behind race runner-up Peters and 10 behind teammate Johnny Sauter, the defending race winner who finished third.

A year ago at Martinsville. Crafton finished runner-up to Sauter, which gave ThorSport its third one-two finish in its 18-year history, all of them by Sauter and Crafton and all of them in identical order.

"All-in-all this wasn't a bad way to start the season," Crafton said. "To be sitting here on pit road with three (ThorSport) Tundras sitting in one piece gives us a starting point and we've definitely got some good racetracks coming up."

Crafton - Daytona International Speedway Pre-Race

Crafton - Homestead-Miami Speedway Post-Race

Crafton - Homestead-Miami Speedway Pre-Race

Crafton - Phoenix International Raceway Post-Race

Crafton - Phoenix International Raceway Pre-Race

Crafton - Texas Motor Speedway Post-Race

Crafton - Texas Motor Speedway Pre-Race

Crafton - Martinsville Speedway Post-Race

Crafton - Martinsville Speedway Pre-Race

Crafton - Talladega Superspeedway Post-Race

Crafton - Talladega Superspeedway Pre-Race

Crafton - Las Vegas Motor Speedway Post-Race

Crafton - Las Vegas Motor Speedway Pre-Race

Crafton - Chicagoland Speedway Post-Race

Crafton - Chicagoland Speedway Pre-Race

Crafton - Iowa Speedway Post-Race

Crafton - Iowa Speedway Pre-Race

Crafton - Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Post-Race

Crafton - Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Pre-Race

Crafton - Bristol Motor Speedway Post-Race

Crafton - Bristol Motor Speedway Pre-Race

Crafton - Michigan International Speedway Post-Race

Crafton - Michigan International Speedway Pre-Race

Crafton - Pocono Raceway Post-Race

Crafton - Pocono Raceway Pre-Race

Crafton - Eldora Speedway Post-Race

Crafton - Eldora Speedway Pre-Race

Crafton - Iowa Speedway Post-Race

Crafton - Iowa Speedway Pre-Race

Crafton - Kentucky Speedway Post-Race

Crafton - Kentucky Speedway Pre-Race

Crafton - Texas Motor Speedway Post-Race

Crafton - Texas Motor Speedway Pre-Race

Crafton - Dover International Speedway Post-Race

Crafton - Dover International Speedway Pre-Race

Crafton - Charlotte Motor Speedway Post-Race

Crafton - Charlotte Motor Speedway Pre-Race

Crafton - Kansas Speedway Post-Race - Living a dream in Kansas Win

Crafton - Kansas Speedway Pre-Race

Crafton - Rockingham Speedway Post-Race

Crafton - Rockingham Speedway Pre-Race - Crafton sets record with start

Crafton - Martinsville Speedway Spring Post-Race

Crafton - Martinsville Speedway Spring Pre-Race

Crafton - Daytona International Speedway Post-Race

Crafton - Daytona International Speedway Pre-Race

Homestead-Miami Raceway Recap

Homestead-Miami Raceway Preview

Phoenix International Raceway Recap

Phoenix International Raceway Preview

Texas Motor Speedway Recap

Texas Motor Speedway Preview

Martinsville Superspeedway Recap

Martinsville Superspeedway Preview

Talladega Superspeedway Recap

Talladega Superspeedway Preview

Las Vegas Motor Speedway Recap

Kentucky Speedway Recap

Kentucky Speedway Preview

Iowa Speedway Recap

Iowa Speedway Preview

Atlanta Motor Speedway Recap

Atlanta Motor Speedway Preview

Matt Crafton - Bristol Motor Speedway Recap

Bristol Motor Speedway Preview

Michigan International Speedway Recap

Michigan International Speedway Preview

Pocono Raceway Recap

Pocono Raceway Preview

Lucas Oil Raceway Park ARCA Preview

Chicagoland Speedway Recap

Chicagoland Speedway Preview

Iowa Speedway Recap

Iowa Speedway Preview

Kentucky Speedway Recap

Kentucky Speedway Preview

Texas Motor Speedway Recap

Texas Motor Speedway Preview

Dover Speedway Recap

Dover Speedway Preview

Johnny Sauter - Charlotte Motor Speedway - Post-Race

Sauter's Charlotte run reverses bad momentum

Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Johnny Sauter prevented deja vu from striking all over again as he scrambled for a sixth-place finish with his No. 98 Nextant Aerospace / Curb Records Toyota Tundra in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' North Carolina Education Lottery 200.

A year ago Sauter's championship hopes took a real torpedo at Charlotte when the Wisconsin native was intentionally wrecked and finished 28th. A week ago, at Kansas Speedway Sauter was driven into an accident and the resultant Did Not Finish knocked him from first to fifth in the 2014 standings.

He and crew chief Dennis Connor decided enough was enough coming to Charlotte, they took a measured approach to the one-day event and in the end -- even though a top-three finish was a definite possibility at the point of the final restart with 13 laps remaining -- they decided discretion was the smarter play.

"That's not the way I race and it's not the way I want to race," Sauter said. "It's just not the way my team races.

"But the situation dictated what we had to do in this race so we worked on our Nextant / Curb Tundra throughout the day to get it raceable -- and I'm happy that Dennis and the guys did that and we proved our point near the end of the race."

For the second consecutive race -- and the only two this season in which Keystone Light Pole Qualifying has been run -- Sauter had a Tundra capable of reaching the final pole round. But after a wild rush in which virtually the entire remaining field of 12 trucks sat on pit road until the final seconds of the session, in a last-lap drafting dash Sauter earned the seventh starting spot.

Friday's compressed schedule created a crazy one-day race that resulted from four hours of Thursday practice being rained-out. The teams practiced for two hours Friday morning -- in conditions that were radically different from the night conditions they raced under at the drastically temperature-sensitive Charlotte oval.

While the first half of the race featured longer green-flag runs, with only two caution periods, the final 67 laps had seven yellows. Despite that, Connor and Sauter -- along with their ThorSport Racing teammates Matt Crafton and Jeb Burton -- had worked themselves into being in position to all be in the top five for the race's end game.

At that 13-to-go restart, Crafton, Sauter and Burton lined up behind eventual winner Kyle Busch in second, third and fourth respectively. But when the green flag flew, Sauter got caught in a three-wild melee on the frontstretch and fell back to eighth.

From there, he battled back a couple spots and when Burton was forced into a laps-down truck and crashed on the frontstretch after Busch had taken the white flag, the race was over.

"We started this race with the clear directive that we had to finish this race with this truck without it getting torn-up," Connor said. "So we ran a careful, premeditated race all night long.

"I think dropping back as Johnny did on that last restart was just a case of doing the right thing -- not necessarily what we'd prefer to do."

The best news is Connor and Sauter's crew loaded a completely intact Tundra into the hauler that, after some additional analysis, will be good-to-go with Texas, another lightning-fast 1.5-mile venue where Sauter's had great success, coming up in two races.

"We had something that caused the truck not to run down the straightaways and we don't really know what that was," Connor said. "Whether it was (aerodynamic) drag-related or motor-related or some kind of chassis situation, it wasn't a handling-related issue because the truck was good through the corners all night long.

"So we're going to the chassis dyno Monday to try and figure out what was wrong. It might have been a case of us being a little over-cautious, but we did what we needed to do because having a piece we can tune on going forward and not having to re-start from scratch is absolutely critical."

After entering the race in the fifth position in the standings, Sauter came out of the weekend fourth, though he went from 15 points behind championship leader Crafton to 19 behind going to the next race, in two weekends.

Sauter gets his next chance to go for a Truck Series win on May 30 at Dover International Speedway, as part of a NASCAR tripleheader with the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series.


ABOUT NEXTANT AEROSPACE:
Nextant Aerospace is recognized as the first company in the world to introduce aircraft remanufacturing to the business jet market. The Nextant 400XTi is a completely-rebuilt Beechjet 400A/XP with Williams FJ44-3AP engines and the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21™ integrated avionics suite. The new aircraft also has major aerodynamic enhancements and an improved engine mounting configuration with redesigned nacelles and pylons. The 400XTi is delivered with a two-year full-aircraft warranty and after-sales support provided by a global network of owned and authorized service centers. Founded in 2007, Nextant is based in Cleveland, Ohio. Nextant is a Directional Aviation Capital company. For more information, please visit, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @NextantAero or join us on LinkedIn.
   
ABOUT CURB RECORDS:
Curb Records is one of the world's leading independent music companies. Owned and operated by Mike Curb since 1962, Curb Records has achieved 375 Billboard number one records, nearly 1,200 Billboard Top Ten records and charted just under 4,000 Billboard records. Today's roster includes some of the top names in Country, Christian and Pop/Rock music. Curb Records was honored as Billboard Magazine's 2001 Country Music Label of the Year and Radio & Records Magazine's 2005 Overall Gold Label of the Year. For more information visit www.curb.com.   
 
ABOUT THORSPORT RACING:
ThorSport Racing, based in a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is the longest-tenured NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. ThorSport, which has run in the Truck Series since 1996, in 2014 will run the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by 2013 drivers' champion Matt Crafton, the No. 98 Nextant Aerospace/Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff/Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records Toyota Tundra driven by Johnny Sauter and the No. 13 Carolina Nut Co. Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton in the Truck Series and the No. 13 Toyota Camry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.

Johnny Sauter - Charlotte Motor Speedway - Pre-Race

Sauter seeking hometown rebound at Charlotte

Johnny Sauter's lack of outright success at Charlotte Motor Speedway, site of Friday night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Carolina Education Lottery 200, is no deterrent to him believing he has a pretty good chance of a top-five finish -- if not his 10th trip to Victory Lane after a truck race -- with his No. 98 Nextant Aerospace / Curb Records Toyota Tundra.

Five of Sauter's nine career Truck Series victories have come on 1.5-mile speedways -- including his inaugural win for the Sandusky-based team in 2009 at Las Vegas and a sweep at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, both tracks operated by Charlotte's parent company, Speedway Motorsports Inc.

Sauter's actual record in five career Charlotte starts isn't stellar -- an average finish of 16.8 with an average start of 12th -- but he was heading to a possible career-best finish a year ago when he was intentionally wrecked by another competitor.

That 28th-place result, the first Charlotte race Sauter had failed to finish, put a real dent in his 2013 championship hopes but the Wisconsin native is nothing if he's not resilient.

And it's not an ace-in-the-hole necessarily -- because a handful of trucks were at the fast, 1.5-mile speedway about a month ago for two days of testing -- but it does give Sauter and his ThorSport Racing teammates, Matt Crafton and Jeb Burton, some comfort after Thursday's schedule was wiped-out by rain.

"We tested from 1 o'clock until 9 o'clock -- right when we're going to be qualifying and racing (Friday)," Sauter said. "Unfortunately for me, we didn't have a very good test but we've completely rebuilt our Nextant Tundra since then.

"So I don't expect to have any problems. We'll only have a two-hour practice Friday morning so it'll be pretty interesting, to say the least. I'm just glad we can rely on our teammates a little bit, here. Dennis (Connor, three-time Truck Series champion crew chief) has had some success on this type of track so I'm really excited to be working with him."

Friday's schedule was adjusted by the rain-out to include a single, two-hour practice session from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. ET. The final hour is scheduled to be televised on FOX Sports 1.

"Had we not had that test here I really think (the cancellation) would've been a wrench in the plan, for sure," Sauter said. "But I think everybody's pretty much got a baseline setup -- a really good idea of where they want to be.

"(Losing practice) is not the end of the world although I'd like to get on the racetrack as much as we could, but if it's not meant to be, oh well... Like I said, Crafton and Burton both had pretty decent tests, so we've got Dennis back and I don't have any reservations about anything."

Sauter's best finish, and his only top-10 at Charlotte, is a sixth in 2011. His favorite intermediate-track Tundra was wiped-out in one of a number of multi-truck wrecks last weekend at Kansas and, given his misfortune a year ago and last week, Sauter's hoping for a silver lining Friday night that might enable him to move up from fifth in the standings.

"I hope everybody maybe had their eyes opened a little bit last weekend," Sauter said of the Kansas debacle. "I don't know -- it was the first mile-and-a-half we'd raced on in a while and the first time with these 2014-style trucks. Maybe they'll take care of their stuff a little bit better (Friday) night because you hate to lose race trucks.

"Duke and Rhonda Thorson (owners) and everybody at ThorSport does a good job and they build really nice Tundras and the one we lost (at Kansas) was probably my favorite truck, so you hate to wipe something like that out."

But, as Crafton noted, Sauter also doesn't think the "wrecking mentality" will carry over to the older Charlotte pavement.

"I don't think you'll see (aggressive driving and multi-truck wrecks)," Sauter said. "Charlotte is a pretty racy racetrack and pretty wide and you'll see people being able to run all over the racetrack and hopefully not be running into one another because that's not good."

Friday afternoon the 33 entered trucks will have the Truck Series' second multi-segment, elimination-style group Keystone Light Pole Qualifying session to set the up-to 36-truck starting lineup at 5:40 p.m., with live coverage on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 5:30.

Friday evening's 134-lap, 201-mile main event will be telecast live on FOX Sports 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET, preceded by The Setup pre-race show at 8. The live broadcast on MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio begins with pre-race coverage at 8. Live timing & scoring for the weekend's events will be at www.nascar.com.


ABOUT NEXTANT AEROSPACE:
Nextant Aerospace is recognized as the first company in the world to introduce aircraft remanufacturing to the business jet market. The Nextant 400XTi is a completely-rebuilt Beechjet 400A/XP with Williams FJ44-3AP engines and the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21™ integrated avionics suite. The new aircraft also has major aerodynamic enhancements and an improved engine mounting configuration with redesigned nacelles and pylons. The 400XTi is delivered with a two-year full-aircraft warranty and after-sales support provided by a global network of owned and authorized service centers. Founded in 2007, Nextant is based in Cleveland, Ohio. Nextant is a Directional Aviation Capital company. For more information, please visit, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @NextantAero or join us on LinkedIn.
   
ABOUT CURB RECORDS:
Curb Records is one of the world's leading independent music companies. Owned and operated by Mike Curb since 1962, Curb Records has achieved 375 Billboard number one records, nearly 1,200 Billboard Top Ten records and charted just under 4,000 Billboard records. Today's roster includes some of the top names in Country, Christian and Pop/Rock music. Curb Records was honored as Billboard Magazine's 2001 Country Music Label of the Year and Radio & Records Magazine's 2005 Overall Gold Label of the Year. For more information visit www.curb.com.   
 
ABOUT THORSPORT RACING:
ThorSport Racing, based in a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is the longest-tenured NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. ThorSport, which has run in the Truck Series since 1996, in 2014 will run the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by 2013 drivers' champion Matt Crafton, the No. 98 Nextant Aerospace/Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff/Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records Toyota Tundra driven by Johnny Sauter and the No. 13 Carolina Nut Co. Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton in the Truck Series and the No. 13 Toyota Camry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.

Johnny Sauter - Kansas Speedway - SFP 250 Post-Race

Wild wreck ends Sauter's promising Kansas effort

A grinding mid-race wreck in Friday night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' SFP 250 at Kansas Speedway prevented Johnny Sauter from taking sole position of the series lead that he came to the Midwest tied for with his No. 98 Nextant Aerospace / Curb Records Toyota Tundra.

Crew chief Dennis Connor and his men made a dogged attempt to repair Sauter's mangled Tundra, which went to the garage area on the leader's 87th lap. But the damage and race-time remaining to fix it forced the team to withdraw, relegating Sauter to 21st at the finish.

"Thanks to the guys," Sauter said after a long stretch sitting in his Tundra's cockpit as work swirled around him. "They never quit hammering on this Nextant/Curb Tundra, but we just ran out of time."

It was a massively disappointing outcome for a weekend that had started so positively. In two practice sessions Sauter and Connor concentrated on race runs rather than sheer speed in the draft. Toyota's timing system showed Sauter's Tundra was one of the most consistently fast trucks based on average lap times. 

Sauter's was the best of three ThorSport Racing Toyotas earlier Friday afternoon in the season's first "knockout" qualifying session after scheduled sessions at Daytona and Martinsville were rained-out. Sauter lined-up third in the 31-truck field as a result.

As the 167-lap race opened Sauter never fell below seventh in the running order, including the first pit stop of the night. But on the second stop, Sauter immediately felt a loose lug nut and had to return to pit road to correct it under the race's seventh caution, at lap 78.

That knocked him back to 15th for the subsequent restart and when front-runner Ryan Blaney spun in Turn 2 and came to a stop sideways in the groove, a melee broke out behind the spin.

"Our Tundra was the best it had been all night, at that point," Sauter said. "But that's what happens when you don't tighten your lug nuts -- you're back there running where you don't need to be and don't want to be.

"I don't really know what happened (in the accident with Blaney). We were three-wide, and I think another truck ran into me in the back and sent me from the bottom of the racetrack to the top. When I got there Ryan was sideways and stopped and there just wasn't enough room between him and the wall."

Connor's assessment was even blunter. 
    
"That was self-inflicted and you just can't have that," Connor said. "But I'm proud of the way the team rebounded and tried to fix our Tundra -- as well as how well they worked to get to that point in the race."

A year ago Sauter came to Kansas in sole possession of the series lead but after a fourth-place finish behind race-winning ThorSport teammate Matt Crafton a rough stretch of the season ensued that knocked Sauter out of championship contention.

Connor rejoined ThorSport as Sauter's crew chief and they engineered a seven-race top-10 finishing string -- including Sauter's third win of the season -- that got them back into fourth in the championship by season's end.

After Friday night's setback Sauter fell to fifth in the championship, 15 points behind series leader Matt Crafton, who for the second consecutive season took the points lead after Kansas. 

On the positive side the Truck Series' next race is on May 16, a second consecutive night race, on the similar 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway. The team tested there several weeks ago but that truck was wiped-out Friday night.

ABOUT NEXTANT AEROSPACE:
Nextant Aerospace is recognized as the first company in the world to introduce aircraft remanufacturing to the business jet market. The Nextant 400XTi is a completely-rebuilt Beechjet 400A/XP with Williams FJ44-3AP engines and the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21™ integrated avionics suite. The new aircraft also has major aerodynamic enhancements and an improved engine mounting configuration with redesigned nacelles and pylons. The 400XTi is delivered with a two-year full-aircraft warranty and after-sales support provided by a global network of owned and authorized service centers. Founded in 2007, Nextant is based in Cleveland, Ohio. Nextant is a Directional Aviation Capital company. For more information, please visit, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @NextantAero or join us on LinkedIn.
   
ABOUT CURB RECORDS:
Curb Records is one of the world's leading independent music companies. Owned and operated by Mike Curb since 1962, Curb Records has achieved 375 Billboard number one records, nearly 1,200 Billboard Top Ten records and charted just under 4,000 Billboard records. Today's roster includes some of the top names in Country, Christian and Pop/Rock music. Curb Records was honored as Billboard Magazine's 2001 Country Music Label of the Year and Radio & Records Magazine's 2005 Overall Gold Label of the Year. For more information visit www.curb.com.   
 
ABOUT THORSPORT RACING:
ThorSport Racing, based in a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is the longest-tenured NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. ThorSport, which has run in the Truck Series since 1996, in 2014 will run the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by 2013 drivers' champion Matt Crafton, the No. 98 Nextant Aerospace/Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff/Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records Toyota Tundra driven by Johnny Sauter and the No. 13 Carolina Nut Co. Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton in the Truck Series and the No. 13 Toyota Camry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.

Johnny Sauter - Kansas Speedway - SFP 250 Pre-Race

Sauter hopes to secure Truck Series lead at Kansas

SANDUSKY, Ohio (May 7, 2014) -- Johnny Sauter's been down this road before -- leading the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings early in the season -- so he knows exactly what he needs to do with his No. 98 Nextant Aerospace / Curb Records Toyota Tundra in Friday night's SFP 250 at Kansas Speedway.

"That's easy -- winning takes care of just about everything," Sauter said. "This season's starting out a little bit different than last -- we're tied for the point lead instead of being out there all alone -- but our two races this season have proven my ThorSport team hasn't forgotten how to run up front."

Sauter, whose ThorSport Racing team has finished third and fourth at Daytona and Martinsville, respectively -- a pair of races he won last season, is currently tied with Timothy Peters atop the standings. With teammate, and defending Kansas race and NCWTS drivers' championship winner Matt Crafton lurking in third, just four points back, the team based in Sandusky, Ohio, has a good chance to continue its front-runner's role.

"We got our Nextant Tundra working pretty well when we tested at Charlotte a couple weeks ago," Sauter said of a recent test at Charlotte Motor Speedway, in which all three ThorSport Tundras participated. "Kansas, obviously is not that racetrack and really, since they just repaved it two years ago it actually races quite a bit different.

"You throw in the fact that this is a night race -- and we've never raced trucks at Kansas at night -- and who knows what we're gonna get? I'll tell you one thing -- it'll be fast, and I don't mind that one bit."

Five of Sauter's nine career Truck Series victories have come on 1.5-mile speedways -- including Kansas in 2010, his second win for ThorSport -- so he has good reason to be optimistic about his chances Friday.

This is the first of 14 Kansas truck races to be held under the lights. In his five Kansas truck starts, Sauter has four top-nine finishes.

"We had to work to get our truck going last year and in the race, Matt ended up having everyone covered," Sauter said. "This time around we're practicing Thursday afternoon and racing Friday night, so that will be a challenge to get your truck working as good as it's going to need to be.

"Qualifying will probably be a wide-open lap -- at least in the first session if we're finally able to get knockout qualifying in this weekend. That'll be interesting, for sure."

After opening inspection on Thursday morning the 32 entered trucks will have two practice sessions later that day, from 2:30-3:30 p.m. ET and from 4-5:30. Neither has TV coverage scheduled on FOX Sports 1.

The Truck Series' inaugural -- since qualifying sessions at both Daytona and Martinsville were rained-out -- multi-segment, elimination-style group Keystone Light Pole Qualifying session to set the up-to 36-truck starting lineup is Friday at 4:40 p.m. ET, with live coverage on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 4:30.

Friday evening's 167-lap, 250.5-mile main event will be telecast live on FOX Sports 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET, preceded by The Setup pre-race show at 8. The live broadcast on MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio begins with pre-race coverage at 8. Live timing & scoring for the weekend's events will be at www.nascar.com.

ABOUT NEXTANT AEROSPACE:
Nextant Aerospace is recognized as the first company in the world to introduce aircraft remanufacturing to the business jet market. The Nextant 400XTi is a completely-rebuilt Beechjet 400A/XP with Williams FJ44-3AP engines and the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21™ integrated avionics suite. The new aircraft also has major aerodynamic enhancements and an improved engine mounting configuration with redesigned nacelles and pylons. The 400XTi is delivered with a two-year full-aircraft warranty and after-sales support provided by a global network of owned and authorized service centers. Founded in 2007, Nextant is based in Cleveland, Ohio. Nextant is a Directional Aviation Capital company. For more information, please visit, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @NextantAero or join us on LinkedIn.

ABOUT CURB RECORDS:
Curb Records is one of the world's leading independent music companies. Owned and operated by Mike Curb since 1962, Curb Records has achieved 375 Billboard number one records, nearly 1,200 Billboard Top Ten records and charted just under 4,000 Billboard records. Today's roster includes some of the top names in Country, Christian and Pop/Rock music. Curb Records was honored as Billboard Magazine's 2001 Country Music Label of the Year and Radio & Records Magazine's 2005 Overall Gold Label of the Year. For more information visit www.curb.com.

ABOUT THORSPORT RACING:
ThorSport Racing, based in a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is the longest-tenured NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. ThorSport, which has run in the Truck Series since 1996, in 2014 will run the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by 2013 drivers' champion Matt Crafton, the No. 98 Nextant Aerospace/Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff/Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records Toyota Tundra driven by Johnny Sauter and the No. 13 Carolina Nut Co. Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton in the Truck Series and the No. 13 Toyota Camry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.

Johnny Sauter - Martinsville Speedway Post-Race

Sauter shares point lead after Martinsville 4th

Johnny Sauter was frustrated after a paint-swapping battle Sunday resulted in a fourth-place finish for his No. 98 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff / Curb Records Toyota Tundra in the Kroger 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway.

The race, originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon but postponed by rain until Sunday following the NASCAR Sprint Cup STP 500, took the green flag just after 5:30 p.m. ET and finished almost two hours later at dusk.

The silver lining for Sauter was, for the second year in a row, he left Martinsville with no less than a share of the Truck Series' points lead. Sauter, who tied a NASCAR all-time national series record by winning the first two races last season, is tied with Timothy Peters atop the standings.

Four points behind in third is ThorSport Racing teammate Matt Crafton, who won Sunday's second race of the season in his No. 88 Ideal Door / Menards Tundra.

The feisty Sauter was feeling his oats Sunday after he led 61 of 256 laps -- one fewer than top lap-leader Ron Hornaday -- but only had fourth to show for it after he'd won this race in two of the last three seasons.

Sauter traded paint with several competitors but had little to say afterward, after the dust had settled.

"That's Martinsville," Sauter said, almost spitting out the words. "I've been dumped here plenty of times and if people don't like it, (oh, well)."

Sauter, who won three Truck Series races a year ago and started last season with victories at Daytona and Martinsville, had a hard-fought finish after an up-and-down day, as crew chief Gene Wachtel explained.

"It started with four of us having to push (start) the truck off pit road with a dead battery," Wachtel said with a laugh, after the field was impounded overnight behind the Sprint Cup garage, at which point it got cold enough for snow to fall on the speedway Sunday morning. "So that was a pretty good low point.

"But our truck was really good during the middle portion of the race, and we led a lot of laps there."

When Truck Series' group-style elimination qualifying was rained-out for the second consecutive race, Sauter lined his verdant green Smokey Snuff/Curb Tundra up 14th.

Any concerns the team had in two partially rain-splashed Friday practices were mostly allayed by the No. 98 Toyota's performance. Sauter moved up quickly and led for the first time at lap 112, past the halfway point until lap 137.

Sauter even held his own after he mistakenly left pit road with only two tires on his first pit stop when the rest of the top runners took four. Sauter was animated on his radio, but after coming out with good track position he only dropped a couple spots in the next stretch, before maneuvering himself into position to lead the race.

"At the end, there, on our last stop it cooled-off quite a bit and I made a small adjustment," Wachtel said, smiling again. "I don't know if the small adjustment was too much or if the track cooling down so much accounted for it, but we lost the balance of the truck a little bit at the end.

"We know we still ended up with a good finish -- a top-five finish. And we learned a lot this weekend. We'll go home and go through some of the things we learned with the extra (Friday) practice and get better next time."

The race's closing stages were intense, but so was the middle, as Sauter and Peters swapped the lead five times between laps 138 and 178 -- with at least one of the changes involving some of the body contact Sauter referred to, which resulted in payback later that almost knocked Sauter out of the top 10.

"Fourth is fourth and I obviously could never be satisfied or happy with that -- particularly after Gene and the guys worked as hard as they did to give me a pretty good Tundra," Sauter said. "We've been so good here, it's really hard to be happy when we have a shot to win, and don't."

Sauter was just inside the top 10 when the first of two green-white-checkered restarts occurred. On the backstretch Sauter made contact with Erik Jones in heavy traffic and Jones spun, creating the second GWC situation.

Sauter restarted eighth then but raced hard for a lap-and-a-half to get to fourth before a backstretch melee brought out a race-ending caution flag.

Sauter gets a chance to get his third consecutive top-five finish this season, which would equal his start a year ago, on May 9, when the series races at Kansas Speedway.

ABOUT SMOKEY MOUNTAIN: Smokey Mountain is America's original and best-selling tobacco-free smokeless brand. Appealing to adult smokeless tobacco consumers who are seeking tobacco-free and nicotine-free alternatives, Smokey Mountain is available in long cut and easy-to-use pouches. For more information visit www.SmokeySnuff.com.

ABOUT CURB RECORDS: Curb Records is one of the world's leading independent music companies. Owned and operated by Mike Curb since 1962, Curb Records has achieved 375 Billboard number one records, nearly 1,200 Billboard Top Ten records and charted just under 4,000 Billboard records. Today's roster includes some of the top names in Country, Christian and Pop/Rock music. Curb Records was honored as Billboard Magazine's 2001 Country Music Label of the Year and Radio & Records Magazine's 2005 Overall Gold Label of the Year. For more information visit www.curb.com.

ABOUT THORSPORT RACING: ThorSport Racing, based in a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is the longest-tenured NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. ThorSport, which has run in the Truck Series since 1996, in 2014 will run the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by 2013 drivers' champion Matt Crafton, the No. 98 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff/Nextant Aerospace/Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records Toyota Tundra driven by Johnny Sauter and the No. 13 VAMP/VaporBrands International, Inc. Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton in the Truck Series and the No. 13 Toyota Camry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.

Johnny Sauter - Martinsville Speedway Pre-Race

Sauter seeks repeat in Smokey Mountain Martinsville debut

"Last year (Martinsville) was a pretty awesome win," Sauter said. "Obviously we came off Daytona winning and came to Martinsville, which is one of my favorite -- if not my favorite -- racetracks and to pull off another win was incredible.

"I grew up in the midwest and short-track racing was always my deal. I love it to this day and actually have some short-track cars of my own. Martinsville reminds me a lot of a track I used to race at (Raceway Park), up in Shakopee, Minn. The first time I came to Martinsville I took to it really well because it's a unique racetrack where ultimately you have to be real patient but you have to be aggressive."

After winning last season's Daytona kickoff, Sauter equaled some relatively unique NASCAR history by also winning the season's second race, at Martinsville -- something only five other drivers in NASCAR's national series history have done.

In the process, Sauter scored ThorSport's third career one-two finish, as 2013 NCWTS drivers' champion Matt Crafton was second in his No. 88 Rip It Energy Fuel/Menards Toyota. After hiring Virginia native Jeb Burton to wheel its No. 13 Tundra this season, TSR now has the drivers that finished 1-2-3 at Martinsville in the spring, with Burton also tying his career-best finish at his home track in the fall, when he was third again.

"I think it's cool and it just shows the strength of our organization at ThorSport," Sauter said. "I think Jeb will be running a similar setup to what I ran there last year and we are, as well. That just depends on what the driver wants to feel, but they're not radically different, either.

"We'll have some extra practice time Friday and I'm looking forward to that, but we've got three really good drivers that can feed off one another and share information and I see that being nothing but a benefit."

With the triple-threat lineup his ThorSport Racing organization's bringing to Virginia this weekend, Sauter's also banking on how effective a weapon he and crew chief Gene Wachtel feel their 2014 Tundra -- which has a completely re-worked nose section -- will be at Martinsville, at .526 miles the shortest track the Truck Series races on.

"All the manufacturers had a change in body styles and to me, the Toyota Tundra looks really, really cool -- like the truck you see at the dealership -- so the fans have a lot better identity with the manufacturers," Sauter said. "One of the biggest things that stands out in my mind is the splitter, which is substantially different than anything we've had in the past.

"The splitter's now tucked more under the nose of the truck and I think there's a lot there that's going to change the balance of the trucks, particularly at a place like Martinsville. We've hardly touched the tip of the iceberg with that kind of stuff because Daytona really wasn't a good place to see the effect of that (splitter) position."

Martinsville's spring race is 50 laps longer than the 200-lapper held in the fall and Sauter, obviously, knows what that means to his team's strategy and his own vehicle conservation plan.

"You have to be a little more patient in the spring, I think, to take care of your equipment -- your brakes and your tires and things like that," Sauter said. "I'm not saying I'm good at that, by any means (laughing) but I think I do a pretty good job at it because it's a racetrack where a driver can get into a rhythm where you have to discipline yourself not to overdrive the corners or get back in the gas too hard, too early.

"You kinda have to know when to go and when not to go and when to stick your nose in there and when not to. There are just a lot of things that have to go right to be successful at Martinsville -- but it's just a fun place to race. Obviously not getting caught up in someone else's mess and pit strategy seems to play a pretty big role in the spring race because you know it's going to be a two-stop race."

Martinsville being the debut race for Sauter's six-race 2014 program with Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff, "America's original and best-selling tobacco-free smokeless brand," is the icing on the cake for the Wisconsin veteran, who has nine wins in his 121-race ThorSport career.

"For whatever reason we seem to run well there, especially as of late, so last year was special to get (a second grandfather) clock -- my wife and I say we've got one for our son and one for our daughter, now we need one for ourselves," Sauter said of Martinsville's signature prize. "And with this being the first weekend with new colors on our truck, with Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff, we're really looking forward to that and trying to get our third Martinsville win, which would be really cool."
"Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff was looking for a competitive team and a specific type of driver to fit our brand identity," Dave Savoca, president of Smokey Mountain Chew, Inc. said. "We believe both ThorSport and Johnny Sauter are a great fit for the Smokey Mountain brand and we can't wait to see them in action at Martinsville." 

After opening inspection on Thursday afternoon, Martinsville's Truck weekend's on-track activity opens with extra practice time on Friday. The trucks hit the track from 9 - 11:45 a.m. ET and for final practice from 3 - 4:25 p.m. The latter session will be televised live on FOX Sports 1.

The Truck Series' inaugural -- since Daytona's qualifying session was rained-out -- multi-segment, elimination-style group Keystone Light Pole Qualifying session to set the 36-truck starting lineup is Saturday at 11:10 a.m., again with live coverage on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 11.
 
Saturday's 250-lap, 131.5-mile main event will be telecast live on FOX Sports 1 at 2:30 p.m. ET. The live broadcast on MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio begins with pre-race coverage at 2. Live timing & scoring for the weekend's events will be at www.nascar.com.

ABOUT SMOKEY MOUNTAIN: Smokey Mountain is America's original and best-selling tobacco-free smokeless brand. Appealing to adult smokeless tobacco consumers who are seeking tobacco-free and nicotine-free alternatives, Smokey Mountain is available in long cut and easy-to-use pouches. For more information visit www.SmokeySnuff.com.

ABOUT CURB RECORDS: Curb Records is one of the world's leading independent music companies. Owned and operated by Mike Curb since 1962, Curb Records has achieved 375 Billboard number one records, nearly 1,200 Billboard Top Ten records and charted just under 4,000 Billboard records. Today's roster includes some of the top names in Country, Christian and Pop/Rock music. Curb Records was honored as Billboard Magazine's 2001 Country Music Label of the Year and Radio & Records Magazine's 2005 Overall Gold Label of the Year. For more information visit www.curb.com.   
 
ABOUT THORSPORT RACING: ThorSport Racing, based in a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is the longest-tenured NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. ThorSport, which has run in the Truck Series since 1996, in 2014 will run the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by 2013 drivers' champion Matt Crafton, the No. 98 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff/Nextant Aerospace/Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records Toyota Tundra driven by Johnny Sauter and the No. 13 VAMP/VaporBrands International, Inc. Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton in the Truck Series and the No. 13 Toyota Camry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.

Sauter - Daytona International Speedway Post-Race Report

Sauter defends Daytona win with 3rd-place run

Johnny Sauter had a record-tying start to the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship but he wasn't disappointed to kick off 2014 with a third-place finish in his No. 98 Nextant Aerospace / Curb Records Toyota Tundra Friday night in the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

Sauter, who won three Truck Series races a year ago and started last season with victories at Daytona and Martinsville Speedway, had a solid night with his ThorSport Racing team led by new crew chief Gene Wachtel.

Sauter started the race in ninth and hung around the top 10 all night before he elected to stay allied with eventual race winner Kyle Busch -- who made Daytona history by becoming the first driver to win races in four different series at "The World Center of Racing." Sauter finished third on account behind Busch and Red Horse Racing series regular Timothy Peters, who created a one-two-three finish for Toyota.

"Finishing Daytona is a good thing," Sauter said. "Obviously you want to win, but this is one of those racetracks that the momentum of the season can kind of start out good and start out bad. We'll take a third-place finish.

"You know, it's funny because in practice nobody was really drafting so we really didn't know what to expect. When you come to Daytona obviously you want to win and we were fortunate enough to do it here a year ago. More importantly you want to finish the race and I'm just proud of everybody at ThorSport -- great night and I think all three trucks stayed in one piece so that's all you can ask for."

Sauter was good enough in practice that he lined up ninth after the Truck Series' first-ever group qualifying session was cancelled earlier Friday by rain. Sauter was never scored outside the top 10 and he was inside the top five before 30 of 100 laps were run.

"I never would have believed the race was like it was -- track position was everything," Sauter said. "We'd get double file (and) the only truck I saw all night long that could make hay was the 17 (Peters)."

The final restart came with 11 laps to go and, with Sauter in fifth resulted in frantic, side-by-side fender-slamming racing that ended with Busch making a pell-mell dash to the outside, and the win coming out of Turn 4 on the last lap.

"In hindsight, maybe I should have jumped up in front of (Peters), made him push me to the front," Sauter said. "I didn't feel I was in a position to do that. I committed to the 51 (Busch) all night long.

"We had solid pit stops on our truck.The guys did a good job in the pits. We did our best to maintain track position. We were in a position there at the end. I pushed Kyle down the backstretch because I knew that was my only chance to clear the 32 (fourth-place Ryan Truex) and ultimately have a run on Kyle coming up off of (Turn) 4.

"He got too far away from me. I just didn't get away from the 32 quick enough. It bogged my momentum. I was a sitting duck when Kyle latched onto the 17. I just elected to try to stay in a straight line there and make sure I didn't make a mistake, get turned or anything like that."

For a driver who wants to do nothing but win, Sauter took a cogent, big-picture view.

"(Busch) was so far away from me, I don't think it really mattered," Sauter said. "Third, I think, was the best we were going to do (Friday) night. This is eight straight (Daytona) wins for Toyota and they took the top three spots (Friday) night, so this is good. Nowhere I could really go."

Sauter felt he had a good handle on his end-game strategy after watching the race unfold, particularly after watching his ThorSport teammates Matt Crafton and Jeb Burton make attempts to run the high line.

"I told my spotter to tell Kyle that I was committed to him til the end," Sauter said. "I had seen Timothy do what he did there earlier in the night, he pulled the outside line. He was pretty much the only guy that could do that.

"At one point Crafton tried to run like heck out there, wasn't able to make it work. I saw Jeb Burton pull up there, didn't really have any success. I was afraid if I went out there, I'd bog (Busch) down.

"I was committed to Kyle. I felt if we could get separation, not be double-file, I could have lagged back off of Kyle and had a run on him to the finish. You can plan all you want; it just never works out that way."

The weekend, and the race, was just what the doctor ordered for Wachtel, who formerly worked with Sauter at ThorSport as a GM engineer. It was his first race as a crew chief.

"It was a good night," Wachtel said. "We had some speed, but not quite enough to pull out and do what we needed to do, to win. But it was good to get my first race out of the way -- knock some of the nerves out -- and Johnny and our spotter, Tab Boyd did a good job.

"The boys did a good job on pit road and it was a good night, overall, to come out of here in one piece with something to take home and work on, for Talladega (superspeedway race in the fall)."

Because Busch earns points in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Sauter will head to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway next month, in five weeks, just two points behind Peters.

Sauter - Daytona International Speedway Pre-Race Report

Sauter has six-race 2014 deal with Smokey Mountain

Sauter - Homestead-Miami Speedway Pre-Race Report

Sauter - Phoenix International Raceway Post-Race Report

Sauter - Phoenix International Raceway Pre-Race Report

Sauter - Texas Motor Speedway Post-Race Report

Sauter - Texas Motor Speedway Pre-Race Report

Sauter - Martinsville Speedway Post-Race Report

Nextant Aerospace Soars into NASCAR with ThorSport Racing & Johnny Sauter

Sauter - Talladega Superspeedway Post-Race Report

Sauter - Talladega Superspeedway Pre-Race Report

Sauter - Las Vegas Motor Speedway Post-Race Report

Sauter - Las Vegas Motor Speedway Pre-Race Report

Sauter - Chicagoland Speedway Post-Race Report

Sauter - Chicagoland Speedway Pre-Race Report

Sauter - Iowa Speedway Post-Race Report

Sauter - Iowa Speedway Pre-Race Report

Sauter - Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Post-Race Report

Sauter - Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Pre-Race Report

Sauter - Bristol Motor Speedway Post-Race Report

Sauter - Bristol Motor Speedway Pre-Race Report

Sauter - Michigan International Speedway Post-Race Report

Sauter - Michigan International Speedway Pre-Race Report

Sauter - Pocono Raceway Post-Race Report

Sauter - Pocono Raceway Pre-Race Report

Sauter - Iowa Speedway Post-Race Report

Sauter - Iowa Speedway Pre-Race Report

Sauter - Kentucky Speedway Post-Race Report

Sauter - Kentucky Speedway Pre-Race Report

Sauter - Texas Motor Speedway Post-Race Report

Sauter - Texas Motor Speedway Pre-Race Report

Sauter - Dover International Speedway Post-Race Report

Sauter - Dover International Speedway Pre-Race Report

Sauter - Charlotte Motor Speedway Post-Race Report

Sauter - Charlotte Motor Speedway Pre-Race Report

Sauter - Kansas Speedway Post-Race Report

Sauter - Kansas Speedway Pre-Race Report

Sauter - Rockingham Speedway Post-Race Report

Sauter - Pre-Race - Poised for NASCAR history at Rockingham

Sauter - Post-Race - Sauter's Martinsville win pads point lead

Sauter - Martinsville Speedway Pre-Race - Positive test, momentum on his side

Sauter - Daytona International Speedway Post-Race Report

Sauter - Daytona International Speedway Pre-Race

Texas Motor Speedway Recap

Atlanta Motor Speedway Preview

Iowa Speedway Preview

Kentucky Speedway Recap

Kentucky Speedway Preview

Texas Motor Speedway Recap - Sauter finds redemption in Truck win at Texas

Texas Motor Speedway Preview

Kansas Speedway Preview

Rockingham Speedway Recap

Rockingham Speedway Preview

Martinsville Speedway Recap

Martinsville Speedway Preview

Daytona International Speedway Recap

Daytona International Speedway Preview

Jeb Burton - Charlotte Motor Speedway - Post-Race

Charlotte becomes 'what could have been' for Burton

If progress is a positive, "What could have been" for Jeb Burton in Friday night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway becomes more bearable.

Burton, in only his fourth race in the No. 13 Carolina Nut Co. Toyota Tundra for ThorSport Racing, had a reasonable chance to contend for the win, only to have "racing circumstances" ruin his night.

Burton finished 15th at Charlotte. But that only tells a fraction of the story.

On the race's final restart, with 13 laps to go, ThorSport teammates Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter and Burton were running second, third and fourth respectively behind dominant and eventual race winner Kyle Busch.

That was the high point in a rollercoaster day for Burton. After four hours of practice Thursday was wiped out by rain and replaced by a two-hour session Friday morning -- in conditions that had no resemblance to Friday night's race conditions -- Burton and his crew chief Jeriod Prince got after it.

The team battled a tight Tundra in practice, but its potential immediately became apparent in the first round of Keystone Light Pole Qualifying, as Burton posted the fastest time of the 33 trucks that attempted to qualify.

In the second round Burton posted a reasonable effort that was 10th-best. But then Prince and spotter Kevin Hamlin engineered the perfect strategy, positioning Burton at the pit road exit, prepared to make a final run if necessary -- and when several fast trucks moved to the racetrack, Burton went with them.

His best lap moved him to eighth and prevented him from getting eliminated from the final round that would establish the top-12 trucks' starting positions.

The third round of elimination-style qualifying resembled the Formula One madness that NASCAR's version was copied from. Virtually the entire last-round field of 12 trucks sat on pit road until the closing seconds of the five-minute session before going out en masse for a mad draft to the checkers.

From that, Burton took the eighth starting position, but a lot more in intangibles.

"What we did in qualifying was great for our driver's confidence -- both in what he can do as well as what this team is capable of," Prince said. "Jeb did a great job, all day and all night."

As the early part of the race unfolded, Prince opted to hold Burton out, then take fuel only on their first stop. As that strategy unfolded, in a race that sadly resembled the previous weekend's Kansas race in terms of caution flags and torn-up trucks, Burton fell as low as 23rd in the running order.

But as the team's strategy unfolded with several late cautions, the ThorSport trio cycled to the front of the field, in a line behind Busch. It showed Burton a lot.

"These guys don't quit and Jeriod and the team never stopped working on making our Carolina Nut Tundra better," Burton said. "For the second week in a row, at the end of the race we had a truck that could contend to win."

But as the final 12 laps unfolded, Busch pulled out a gap on Crafton, who finished second to Busch for the second consecutive week. Sauter had fallen back to seventh in the running order, leaving Burton to battle with German Quiroga for the final "podium position."

But right after Busch took the white flag Burton, coming off Turn 4 on the outside of Quiroga, was forced up into the laps-down truck of Norm Benning, who was running out against the wall.

The contact knocked Burton's smashed Carolina Nut Tundra into the infield grass and into 15th position. That result puts Burton in a tie for seventh in the standings, 35 points behind series-leader Crafton.

"I hate the finish of the race turned out that way -- I hate it for my guys and for Norm getting his truck torn up because it just didn't need to happen," Burton said. "This is something you can tuck away and learn from. We'll go to Dover and if we can keep making the progress we're making, I feel like we'll contend for another win, there."

The Truck Series' next race is May 30 at Dover International Speedway, part of a NASCAR tripleheader with the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series.

ABOUT THE CAROLINA NUT CO.:
Using unique handcrafted family recipes, The Carolina Nut Co. creates gourmet snacks and flavored nuts that are sure to please every nut lover. The Carolina Nut Co. is family-owned and located in Henderson, N.C. We have been creating delicious gourmet nuts and flavored nuts for more than 60 years. Our unique flavors and high-quality products are making their way across the country. Please keep an eye out for us at your local retailer and ask them about our nuts! For information go to www.carolinanut.com.
 
ABOUT THORSPORT RACING:
ThorSport Racing, based in a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is the longest-tenured NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. ThorSport, which has run in the Truck Series since 1996, in 2014 will run the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by 2013 drivers' champion Matt Crafton, the No. 98 Nextant Aerospace/Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff/Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records Toyota Tundra driven by Johnny Sauter and the No. 13 Carolina Nut Co. Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton in the Truck Series and the No. 13 Toyota Camry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.

Jeb Burton - Charlotte Motor Speedway - Pre-Race

Testing success lights-up Burton's Charlotte optimism

Confidence is no problem for Jeb Burton, and even in his short stay so far at ThorSport Racing he's shown he's in position to contend for a win Friday night in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in his No. 13 Carolina Nut Co. Toyota Tundra.

Burton has just two career starts at Charlotte -- but his career only consists of 30 Truck Series races. And one of those CMS starts was one of seven Keystone Light Pole Awards he captured in 2013. Burton's best Charlotte finish is eighth, but he's been consistent on the fast mile-and-half.

Perking up the Virginia native's spirits was his performance a month ago in a test at Charlotte in which he and ThorSport Racing teammates Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter were among a handful of trucks that tested for two days. Burton was right on pace, which made him nonplussed when all of Thursday's practice was wiped-out by rain.

Friday's schedule was adjusted to include a single, two-hour practice session from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. ET. The final hour is scheduled to be televised on FOX Sports 1.

Burton's not concerned, but at the same time, with the affinity he and crew chief Jeriod Prince displayed in their first start together last weekend at Kansas -- a sixth-place come-from-behind finish after a mid-race flat tire -- accentuates his heady progress.

"We've come a long way in a short period of time," Burton said of his three-race 2014 stint with ThorSport. "We went to Daytona and had a good (sixth-place) run and then went to Martinsville (21st) and found out some of our weaknesses.

"We've made strides and made that better and I think our results showed that at Kansas. Without that flat tire I really feel like we had a Carolina Nut Tundra to contend for a top-five -- and with the way we tested I feel like that isn't unreasonable here at Charlotte, either."

It's notable that Burton's first three races with ThorSport have been significantly better than either of his more veteran teammates achieved for owners Duke and Rhonda Thorson -- though there's no question Crafton and Sauter's skills have consistently shown well over time.

But Burton's aware his new team-building exercise is a work in progress, and the progress to this point has him smiling a lot.

"I'm excited," Burton said. "We had a really good test (here) a couple weeks ago, the team is clicking, our pit stops have gotten better and I think we can have a top-five run at Charlotte."

ThorSport's ongoing sponsorship search to keep running Burton hasn't been a distraction for either the team or its driver, who's exhibiting focus beyond expectations for his age -- 21.

"It's definitely not too much fun but you've got to perform," Burton said. "I'm under the same pressure I had last year -- I knew if I didn't perform I wouldn't be out here this year.

"So when you put your helmet on you try not to think about it and you just go and do your deal."

Friday afternoon the 33 entered trucks will have the Truck Series' second multi-segment, elimination-style group Keystone Light Pole Qualifying session to set the up-to 36-truck starting lineup at 5:40 p.m., with live coverage on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 5:30.

Friday evening's 134-lap, 201-mile main event will be telecast live on FOX Sports 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET, preceded by The Setup pre-race show at 8. The live broadcast on MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio begins with pre-race coverage at 8. Live timing & scoring for the weekend's events will be at www.nascar.com.


ABOUT THE CAROLINA NUT CO.:
Using unique handcrafted family recipes, The Carolina Nut Co. creates gourmet snacks and flavored nuts that are sure to please every nut lover. The Carolina Nut Co. is family-owned and located in Henderson, N.C. We have been creating delicious gourmet nuts and flavored nuts for more than 60 years. Our unique flavors and high-quality products are making their way across the country. Please keep an eye out for us at your local retailer and ask them about our nuts! For information go to www.carolinanut.com.
 
ABOUT THORSPORT RACING:
ThorSport Racing, based in a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is the longest-tenured NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. ThorSport, which has run in the Truck Series since 1996, in 2014 will run the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by 2013 drivers' champion Matt Crafton, the No. 98 Nextant Aerospace/Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff/Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records Toyota Tundra driven by Johnny Sauter and the No. 13 Carolina Nut Co. Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton in the Truck Series and the No. 13 Toyota Camry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.

Jeb Burton - Kansas Speedway - SFP 250 Post-Race

Flat tire blunts Burton's Kansas charge; Rallies for sixth

For lack of a few pounds of air pressure -- and a rubber bladder to hold it -- Jeb Burton Friday night at Kansas Speedway missed out on his first top-five finish in only his third NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start with ThorSport Racing.
 
Burton had a competitive night in the SFP 250 with his No. 13 Carolina Nut Co. Toyota, but saw an opportunity to compete for a potential win vanish when he had to make an extra pit stop, with a flat tire, after he'd pitted to top-off his Tundra's fuel tank just past the halfway point of the race.
 
Burton fell back to 15th -- the only time all night he was scored outside the top 10 -- with only about 70 laps remaining. But he charged back to a sixth-place finish, his career-best at Kansas in three starts at the high-speed 1.5-mile venue.
 
"We had a really good Carolina Nut Tundra all night and on that second-to-last caution we were coming to the green and I thought the track bar was broken," Burton said. "But we figured out the left-rear tire was down -- we're thinking we must've picked up a piece of debris from that big accident on the backstretch.

"So we came down pit road but we went a lap down. But our Tundra was still good and man -- Jeriod (Prince, Burton's first-race crew chief after winning the 2013 ARCA Racing Series championship at ThorSport) never stopped working on the truck all night and the (final) caution finally came out and we got the (free pass)."

In the season's first knockout qualifying session Burton lined-up sixth for the race but quickly raced up to third. In the first 90-plus laps of 167 he was never scored outside the top-seven positions as his crew gave him great pit work.

But when his ThorSport teammate Johnny Sauter was swept into a four-truck wreck on the backstretch bad luck reared up in the form of the flat tire -- though Prince's final adjustments nearly made the difference. In the final run, Burton's Tundra was at times faster than eventual winner Kyle Busch and Burton's second ThorSport teammate, runnerup Matt Crafton.

"We just needed another caution right there at the end, as good as the guys had our Tundra tuned for that last run," Burton said. "It was really hard to pass (Friday) night -- it took me a couple laps to pass people when I caught them. I'm hoping this place has a hard winter and loses some grip, because it was really hard to pass even if you were faster than people.

"I almost had fifth and fourth positions right there as we came to the line. I almost had them, but it gives us a lot of optimism going to Charlotte (this) week."

The best aspect of the night -- in which Crafton grabbed the point lead from Sauter and Red Horse Racing's Timothy Peters, who were tied coming to Kansas -- was that Burton moved up two spots in the standings, to seventh. He's only 22 points behind Crafton and seven points out of fifth.

What enabled that was an impressive, measured, patient night in which Burton consistently gave valuable feedback and Prince constantly replied with technical changes he would make to correct their Tundra.

It was critical on a night in which the race was slowed nine times by yellow flags -- including one on the race's first lap -- though unfortunately the critical one Burton needed at the end never came.

"Some of these guys just aren't using their heads," the second-year driver Burton said with a veteran's savvy. "They're just trying to win the race on lap one it seems like, and I just had to let out of it a couple times when I got took three-wide going into the corner.

"I was like, 'what are we doing -- it's lap five?' But they just kept on doing it. That's what they're going to do, it seems like, so you just have to survive these races and keep doing what we did (Friday) night."

The Truck Series' next race is on May 16, when the series again races at night, on the similar 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway. ThorSport several weeks ago tested at Charlotte, which makes Burton optimistic.

"Here at Kansas, we were much better than we were at Martinsville," Burton said of his frustrating 21st-place finish on his home track. "Our pit stops were a lot better and we're just growing as a team. Don't forget -- this is only our third race together as an organization and it's the first race I worked with Jeriod as my crew chief.

"I can't thank Mr. and Mrs. Thorson (Duke and Rhonda, team owners) enough -- but this deal came together right before the season. Last year, we had the whole winter to get prepared. Right now we're just building, we're doing a good job and I'm really pumped to take this same Tundra to Charlotte."
ABOUT THE CAROLINA NUT CO.:
Using unique handcrafted family recipes, The Carolina Nut Co. creates gourmet snacks and flavored nuts that are sure to please every nut lover. The Carolina Nut Co. is family-owned and located in Henderson, N.C. We have been creating delicious gourmet nuts and flavored nuts for more than 60 years. Our unique flavors and high-quality products are making their way across the country. Please keep an eye out for us at your local retailer and ask them about our nuts! For information go to www.carolinanut.com.
 
ABOUT THORSPORT RACING:
ThorSport Racing, based in a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is the longest-tenured NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. ThorSport, which has run in the Truck Series since 1996, in 2014 will run the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by 2013 drivers' champion Matt Crafton, the No. 98 Nextant Aerospace/Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff/Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records Toyota Tundra driven by Johnny Sauter and the No. 13 Carolina Nut Co. Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton in the Truck Series and the No. 13 Toyota Camry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.

Jeb Burton - Kansas Speedway - SFP 250 Pre-Race

Burton ready for Kansas under the lights in SFP 250

Jeb Burton's still at the phase in his career where every lap's a lesson learned, and that's exactly why he knows his No. 13 Carolina Nut Co. Toyota Tundra can end up in Victory Lane at Kansas Speedway Friday night after the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' SFP 250.

Last year at Kansas, in his ninth career Truck Series race, Burton qualified third and led 26 laps before he succumbed to a flaw that is all-too-common for young drivers.

"I haven't had a real good history at Kansas," Burton said in his low-key fashion -- despite having only two starts on the fast, 1.5-mile speedway. "There were only about 10 laps to go last year and I believe I had a shot at a top-five and I just got a little impatient and spun out."

For a young man who wants to do nothing but run up front, his 15th-place finish was a brutal reality. That might've been worse than his first Kansas race, in 2012 when he crashed on his third lap in the race.

But that was then, and with the improvement he's shown in only two starts, this time around at Kansas Burton -- who's aligned with ThorSport Racing, for whom he'll make his third start while sitting tied for ninth in the championship -- hopes for much better results.

Accentuating his optimism is a successful test session a couple weeks ago at Charlotte Motor Speedway -- where the trucks race in two weekends. The racetracks are nowhere near identical, but they're both fast, 1.5-milers and most of the testing there was at night.

Friday's race at Kansas is the 14th Truck Series race there but the first at night. Burton -- who was the 2013 NCWTS Keystone Light Pole Award winner with seven top starting spots -- can only smile when he anticipates Friday night.

"It's going to be fast," Burton said, harkening back to the test as proof. "That (Charlotte test) was my first time with my new team on a mile-and-a-half track, where you really have to have the confidence that your truck is going to be under you when you turn off into the corner.

"Now, I've got that confidence because we were really good at the test, I've gotten so much more comfortable with my new team and I can tell you we'll be a lot better than we were at Martinsville (previous race, in March)."

And in the end, Burton agreed he could put his lessons learned -- not only at Kansas a year ago -- but everywhere else he raced on his way to fifth in the 2013 Truck championship, to good use this weekend.

"Track positions is going to be big -- but it always is," Burton said. "And you're going to have to be aggressive and get everything you can on every restart.

"We've got the company colors, Carolina Nut Co., on our Tundra this weekend but we're still looking for all the sponsorship help we can find to help us keep this ThorSport Toyota up front in the championship where it should be."

After opening inspection on Thursday morning the 32 entered trucks will have two practice sessions that afternoon, from 2:30-3:30 p.m. ET and from 4-5:30. Neither has TV coverage scheduled on FOX Sports 1.

Thursday night Burton, along with ThorSport teammate, 2013 Kansas winner and defending NCWTS drivers' champion Matt Crafton, is scheduled to appear at a public driver autograph session at the "Legends of Speed" fan festival at the Legends Outlets across from Kansas Speedway on Sunflower Drive, from 7-7:30 p.m. CT.

The Truck Series' inaugural -- since qualifying sessions at both Daytona and Martinsville were rained-out -- multi-segment, elimination-style group Keystone Light Pole Qualifying session to set the up-to 36-truck starting lineup is Friday at 4:40 p.m. ET, with live coverage on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 4:30.

Friday evening's 167-lap, 250.5-mile main event will be telecast live on FOX Sports 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET, preceded by The Setup pre-race show at 8. The live broadcast on MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio begins with pre-race coverage at 8. Live timing & scoring for the weekend's events will be at www.nascar.com.

ABOUT THE CAROLINA NUT CO.:
Using unique handcrafted family recipes, The Carolina Nut Co. creates gourmet snacks and flavored nuts that are sure to please every nut lover. The Carolina Nut Co. is family-owned and located in Henderson, N.C. We have been creating delicious gourmet nuts and flavored nuts for more than 60 years. Our unique flavors and high-quality products are making their way across the country. Please keep an eye out for us at your local retailer and ask them about our nuts! For information go to www.carolinanut.com.

ABOUT THORSPORT RACING:
ThorSport Racing, based in a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is the longest-tenured NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. ThorSport, which has run in the Truck Series since 1996, in 2014 will run the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by 2013 drivers' champion Matt Crafton, the No. 98 Nextant Aerospace/Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff/Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records Toyota Tundra driven by Johnny Sauter and the No. 13 Carolina Nut Co. Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton in the Truck Series and the No. 13 Toyota Camry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.

Jeb Burton - Martinsville Speedway Post-Race

Burton fights back at Martinsville; Still in top 10 in points

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 30, 2014) -- Jeb Burton had perhaps the most frustrating weekend of his career at his home track, Martinsville Speedway, but both Burton and his ThorSport Racing crew showed great resolve to make up two laps in their No. 13 VAMP / VaporBrands International, Inc. Toyota Tundra, which finished 21st in Sunday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250.

The race, originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon but postponed by rain until Sunday following the NASCAR Sprint Cup STP 500, took the green flag just after 5:30 p.m. ET and finished almost two hours later at dusk.

Saturday's rainout also resulted in the second consecutive cancellation of the Truck Series' group-style, elimination qualifying.

No one wanted more track time than Burton, who finished third at the short, .526-mile oval twice last season -- including finishing behind a ThorSport one-two in the spring -- but only made his ThorSport debut in the No. 13 VAMP/VaporBrands Tundra at Daytona last month.

"I don't think I've ever struggled so hard at this racetrack in anything I've driven here," Burton said. "But on the positive side, Dennis (Connor, crew chief) and my guys never gave up, never stopped trying and what we made up in the race proved that."

That perseverance enabled Burton to remain in the top-10 in the NCWTS standings, in ninth.

His two ThorSport Racing teammates moved ahead of him. Johnny Sauter's 22 points ahead, tied for the lead after his No. 98 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff / Curb Records Tundra finished fourth and Matt Crafton's third after his No. 88 Ideal Door / Menards Tundra won the race -- giving ThorSport Martinsville wins in three of the last four years.

Burton's up-and-down weekend began in Friday's practice, when his Tundra for the most part was too loose. As a result of that, when qualifying was rained-out Burton lined up 22nd based on his speed in the opening practice.

As the race opened his teammates moved forward but mired back in the pack, Burton struggled to get much inside the top 20 while battling traffic and some "robust" short-track racing. He lost a lap while making his first pit stop but kept his head down and kept himself in position to gain a free pass on one of 10 cautions to get back on the lead lap.

Burton's worst break of the race came when his left-rear tire deflated after contact with another truck, which brought out the event's fifth caution a little more than two-thirds of the way through the race. In the process of limping back to Martinsville's pit road, which covers more than half the racetrack, Burton lost two more laps.

But with the encouragement of Connor and spotter Kevin Hamlin and his crew's work Burton never fell outside the top 25 and twice more raced into position to gain a free pass to get back on the lead lap at the finish. He wasn't able to make up the final lap and finished 21st, the second truck one lap down.

"It's a real disappointment but the team never stopped trying -- never stopped digging," Burton said. "I can't thank them enough for that."

"With everything we were dealing with all weekend and the challenges we faced with the weather I felt like Jeb didn't do a bad job," Connor said. "That's Martinsville, it can be a tough place to get a hold of and I was happy that we never stopped trying."

The sponsorship search to keep Burton racing with ThorSport is ongoing.

The Truck Series' next race is on May 9, when the series races at Kansas Speedway.

ABOUT VAPORBRANDS INTERNATIONAL, INC.: VaporBrands International, Inc. is a marketing and development partner for manufacturers of electronic cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes represent the future of smoking; they produce no smoke, tar, ash or offensive odor while containing about the same amount of nicotine as traditional tobacco cigarettes. Unlike traditional tobacco cigarettes, electronic cigarettes can be used in many public places currently restricted from smoking. VaporBrands intends to focus on creating opportunities for culturally-relevant brands seeking to acquire significant market share in the rapidly-growing "vaping" sector of the global market. For more information on VaporBrands International, Inc. visit: VaporBrands.com.

ABOUT THORSPORT RACING: ThorSport Racing, based in a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is the longest-tenured NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. ThorSport, which has run in the Truck Series since 1996, in 2014 will run the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by 2013 drivers' champion Matt Crafton, the No. 98 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff/Nextant Aerospace/Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records Toyota Tundra driven by Johnny Sauter and the No. 13 VAMP/VaporBrands International, Inc. Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton in the Truck Series and the No. 13 Toyota Camry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.

Jeb Burton - Martinsville Speedway Pre-Race

Sponsor returns for Burton's ThorSport Martinsville debut

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 27, 2014) -- Bolstered by ThorSport Racing teammates that finished one-two a year ago , local favorite Jeb Burton hopes to score a breakthrough win in his No. 13 VAMP/VaporBrands International, Inc. Toyota Tundra Saturday in the Kroger 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway.

In the 2013 Kroger 250 ThorSport scored its third career one-two finish as Johnny Sauter -- who tied NASCAR national series history by winning the first two events last season -- finished first ahead of 2013 drivers' champion Matt Crafton.
 
Burton, who made his ThorSport debut last month at Daytona, won his first career pole last March at Martinsville in his seventh career start and finished a Martinsville career-best third -- a result he matched in October at his home track.

Burton made his Truck Series debut at Martinsville in March 2012 and qualified seventh before finishing 13th. His 28th career start came in his ThorSport debut, at Daytona and he steered his way through some typical Daytona on-track melees to finish seventh.

"Having VaporBrands and its VAMP e-cig colors back on our Tundra at Martinsville is a big deal for me and ThorSport because of the way our organization runs there and the incredible fan support I have at my home track," said Burton, a native of nearby Halifax, Va. "We're looking forward to getting our short-track Tundra out there and showing everyone what we can do with it."

Because two of the drivers that finished in front of him are not registered for points in the NCWTS, Burton heads to Martinsville fifth in the championship. That's three positions behind Sauter, who was third at Daytona and five spots in front of Crafton, who finished 13th.

"I'm coming to Martinsville with a new team and a new crew and we have to get our notebooks on the same page, if you will," Burton said recently. "But ThorSport as an organization has a great track record here, and that counts for a lot, too.

"Johnny and Matt were one-two last year and I finished third, so I think I can lean on their expertise here and with my experience, going back to the Late Model Stock Car days, I hope I can help lift up the whole organization a little bit because this is short-track racing, and that's what I was brought up on."

ThorSport is still trying to locate additional sponsorship for Burton to enable his team to potentially run the full, 22-race schedule. Burton finished fifth in the 2013 championship, the highest-placed rookie contender, but was second in the Truck Series' Rookie of the Year race. 
 
"Mr. and Mrs. Thorson (Duke and Rhonda, team owners) have given me a great opportunity and I appreciate everything they've done for me and my family,:" Burton said. "We're doing everything we can to find additional sponsorhip and the most important thing is for us to keep running good.

"Dennis (Connor, three-time NCWTS champion crew chief) and the guys have been working hard on our Tundras and I have no doubt the piece we unload at Martinsville will be a good one. It's huge for me to come to my home track fifth in points, with a brand-new race team -- that's like a win already."

Burton, who as a rookie won the Truck Series' season-long Keystone Light Pole Award by winning seven poles, also won his first truck race, in his 12th career start, at Texas Motor Speedway last June.

"We feel like we can make this VAMP / VaporBrands Tundra competitive pretty quickly," Burton said. "We're looking forward to this new (group) qualifying format and more than anything, I just can't wait for the green flag." 
 
After opening inspection on Thursday afternoon, Martinsville's Truck weekend's on-track activity opens with extra practice time on Friday. The trucks hit the track from 9 - 11:45 a.m. ET and for final practice from 3 - 4:25 p.m. The latter session will be televised live on FOX Sports 1.

Burton is scheduled to represent ThorSport at a public driver autograph session outside the Martinsville ticket office from 5-6 p.m. Friday.

The Truck Series' inaugural -- since Daytona's qualifying session was rained-out --
multi-segment, elimination-style group Keystone Light Pole Qualifying session to set the 36-truck starting lineup is Saturday at 11:10 a.m., again with live coverage on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 11.
 
Saturday's 250-lap, 131.5-mile main event will be telecast live on FOX Sports 1 at 2:30 p.m. ET. The live broadcast on MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio begins with pre-race coverage at 2. Live timing & scoring for the weekend's events will be at www.nascar.com.

ABOUT VAPORBRANDS INTERNATIONAL, INC.: VaporBrands International, Inc. is a marketing and development partner for manufacturers of electronic cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes represent the future of smoking; they produce no smoke, tar, ash or offensive odor while containing about the same amount of nicotine as traditional tobacco cigarettes. Unlike traditional tobacco cigarettes, electronic cigarettes can be used in many public places currently restricted from smoking. VaporBrands intends to focus on creating opportunities for culturally-relevant brands seeking to acquire significant market share in the rapidly-growing "vaping" sector of the global market. For more information on VaporBrands International, Inc. visit: VaporBrands.com
 
ABOUT THORSPORT RACING: ThorSport Racing, based in a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is the longest-tenured NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. ThorSport, which has run in the Truck Series since 1996, in 2014 will run the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by 2013 drivers' champion Matt Crafton, the No. 98 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff/Nextant Aerospace/Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records Toyota Tundra driven by Johnny Sauter and the No. 13 VAMP/VaporBrands International, Inc. Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton in the Truck Series and the No. 13 Toyota Camry in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.

Jeb Burton - Daytona International Speedway Post-Race

Jeb Burton dodges his way to Daytona 7th

Jeb Burton, with a great assist from spotter Kevin Hamlin, Friday night dodged "the big one" midway through the season-opening NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway, and with an astute seventh-place finish in his Truck Series debut for ThorSport Racing in the No. 13 VAMP / VaporBrands International, Inc. Toyota Tundra was ready to pronounce his career back on track.

"This was a good way to start the season, I feel like," Burton said. "I've just got to thank all my guys, and Mr. and Mrs. (Duke and Rhonda) Thorson (team owners) for putting me in this Tundra. We'll take this top-seven and go to Martinsville."

The Truck Series' second round, in five weeks at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway is Burton's home race. But just three weeks ago even starting this season was in question after his team's sponsor at Turner Scott Motorsports abandoned the team, forcing the owners to shut it down.

But ThorSport put together a deal to sign Burton for the 2014 season and mere days before the trucks were scheduled to leave the team's shop in Sandusky, Ohio, signed a sponsorship with the VAMP e-cigarette brand of VaporBrands International, Inc.

It put Burton in the position of having virtually a daily watch to look out for his new driving gear's delivery, but his No. 13 Tundra's competitiveness was never in question.

Throughout most of the 100-lap race passing was difficult. Burton started 11th after the Truck Series' inaugural elimination-style group qualifying was cancelled by rain. But when the final green flag flew for an 11-lap run to the finish with Burton in 15th, he was able to make things happen to get to seventh at the checkers.

"At the end I got a pretty big push and got some side draft and we were coming," said Burton, who with just three laps to go was running 12th, one spot behind teammate Matt Crafton, the 2013 series champion. "I wish we would've been at Talladega where the finish line would've been a little farther down the track, but I don't know if we would've made it or not...

"But I'm happy to get out of here with a top-seven (Friday) night, that's for sure."

Burton was working with three-time Truck Series champion crew chief Dennis Connor for the first time and Connor, who won those championships at Hendrick Motorsports with Jack Sprague, was well-pleased with Burton's initial run out of the gate.

"For the first time out of the box we had a hot and cold night, but at the same time it was an acceptable job considering it was our first time out as a team," Connor said of the deal that was signed on Feb. 6. "With the package NASCAR has got right here, nobody can pass anybody and we kind of had a lucky break getting through the big wreck -- but really that was an amazing job by the driver and spotter."

That 16-truck wreck occurred three-quarters of the way through the night, after the race was delayed more than an hour by intermittent rain. Burton was running in the middle of the field when two trucks just inside the top 10 tangled on lap 75, creating a swirling, smoky jam-up of vehicles that Burton did a veteran's job of avoiding in just his 28th career Truck Series start.

But after using cautions to get back into the top 15, his adventure wasn't over.

"We had trouble with a gas can hanging-up on the last (pit) stop and if it hadn't been for that I think we could've finished right up front,' Connor said. "But considering this deal didn't exist three weeks ago, it was pretty amazing, really, to wind up seventh."

On his final pit stop, Burton's exit was delayed when the gas can hung up in the filler neck, costing him time in the service alley.. Burton's charge forward in the last few laps left him wondering "what if..."

"I wish the thing with the gas can hadn't happened, but that sometimes happens in racing," said Burton, who with 40 laps to go had fallen back to 26th. "We'll go on to Martinsville and get back after it, there."

The run to the finish did have Burton shaking his head when asked to describe what the externally wooly scene looked like from his seat.

"I really didn't think that last run would've been green until the finish -- that's why I didn't go to the high side sooner," Burton said of his cautious, but dogged move toward the front. "I was thinking they were gonna wreck because it sure looked like it.

"If I had it to do over again I might have gone a little sooner, but we still got out of here in one piece with some good momentum."

Because race winner Kyle Busch and fourth place Ryan Truex aren't registered to earn Truck Series points, Burton will go to Martinsville in five weeks fifth in the championship, six points behind race runner-up Timothy Peters

Jeb Burton - Daytona International Speedway Pre-Race

Jeb Burton - Daytona International Speedway Post-Race Report

Burton victimized in Daytona melee; Finishes 29th

Jeb Burton's ThorSport Racing debut in his No. 13 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Toyota Camry in Saturday's Lucas Oil 200 presented by MAVTV American Real at Daytona International Speedway was a rollercoaster of emotions.

You want irony? Burton's car was as fast -- wrecked -- halfway through the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season-opening race as it had been in qualifying Friday.

You want the definition of heart? You spell it T-h-o-r-S-p-o-r-t R-a-c-i-n-g and J-e-b B-u-r-t-o-n after crew chief Jeriod Prince and his team rebuilt Burton's ripped-up racecar and returned it to the track in only 19 laps.

Ten laps later Burton, who had started 21st after qualifying with a lap in 50.462 seconds, 178.352 mph; turned a lap that was better than that while simply making time on the track to run out the 200-mile distance.

He was making laps because in the process Burton passed six cars and gained more than 30 points by returning to the racetrack. That might be critical if this team, which is the defending ARCA championship squad, runs the whole schedule to defend that title.

And you want a pro -- his young 21 years aside? That's Burton, who was man enough to go on FOX Sports 1 and calmly tell the viewers his side of the accident when the netwpork couldn't locate several of the other protagonists.

On the 13th lap of the race, while running 22nd Burton's prediction three laps earlier that "I need to get outta this (mess) -- they're gonna wreck" came true when a couple cars near the front of the field lost control.

Burton's spotter, Kevin Hamlin, was attempting to guide him through the smoky mess when Burton's car was speared from behind, spinning it out. Burton made a lap and returned to pit road, and then the garage where Prince and his men leaped on the car and began repairs.

On lap 32 Burton was back on track and Prince engineered a careful, methodical trip to the race's end, pitting when the snarling lead draft approached them, ultimately resulting in a 29th-place finish.

That patient perseverance certainly will serve Burton well next week when he attempts his second race for ThorSport, driving the team's No. 13 Toyota Tundra in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' opener, the NextEra Energy Resources 250.

"This is pretty disappointing because these guys worked really, really hard," Burton said to FOX's Jim Tretow, even as the sounds of hammers beating on twisted metal reverberated in the background. "It's a shame, man, and some of those guys really don't need to be out there, but (getting wrecked) is just part of it.

"I just have to thank Mr. and Mrs. (owners Duke and Rhonda) Thorson for putting me in the car and truck, and Smokey Mountain Snuff for coming on board with State Water Heaters, Toyota, Puryear Tank Lines, Pacific Equipment and Rocky Ridge Trucks."

The Daytona ARCA race was a one-off outing with new sponsor Smokey Mountain, which plans a six-race Truck Series program with ThorSport teammate Johnny Sauter later this season.

"Hopefully we can get a better run in the truck," Burton said. "This was so disappointing -- though I can't give Jeriod and the guys enough credit for putting a car back together that was actually better than it was early in the race. I'm really looking forward to racing that Tundra (truck)."

Smokey Mountain's ThorSport debut also had its bright spots.

"We were fortunate to partner with Jeb Burton and ThorSport Racing for the ARCA Race at Daytona," said Dan Fennerty, regional sales director, Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff. "I was able to spend some time with Jeb (Saturday) and he seems like a great guy, hungry for success and driven to succeed.

"What happened (in the race) was an unfortunate circumstance, out of Jeb's hands. We couldn't be more proud of his performance (Saturday) -- he got back out, finished the race and never gave up."

Collateral damage in the mishap was the end of ThorSport's 31-race top-10 finishing streak in ARCA, which stretched back to the New Jersey Motorsports Park race in July 2012.

"Championship teams don't quit and that's certainly who we are at ThorSport," team manager David Pepper said. "We're not sure where this ARCA program is headed because we need more sponsorship to continue to race, but this team's heart and determination were never more evident than (Saturday) and I'm proud of all of the guys -- and Jeb for sticking with it until the end."

Burton returns to the track at Daytona next Wednesday for the first Truck Series practice for next Friday's NextEra Energy Resources 250.

Jeb Burton - Daytona International Speedway Pre-Race Report

Jeb Burton - Daytona International Speedway Sponsor

ThorSport Racing Open House

ThorSport Racing, which fields teams in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, will hold a "2013 season celebration and community thank-you" open house on Monday, Dec. 16, from 4 - 7 p.m. ET.

WHAT: ThorSport Racing Open House
WHEN: Monday, Dec. 16, 4 - 7 p.m. ET
WHERE: 312 Neilsen Ave, Sandusky, OH 44870
WHY: Celebrate multiple-championship 2013 racing season and the support of the Greater Sandusky community, our friends and partners
WHO: Appearances by ThorSport Racing drivers, crew and administrators
WITH: Autographs, Food, Beverages, Shop & Transporter Access, Giveaways

Eldora ace Tracy Hines to race ThorSport Racing on July 24

Riviera Hotel & Casino - the official Las Vegas Hotel of ThorSport Racing

"Charging Towards a Championship" in 2012 with Nos. 13, 88 and 98

"Pursues 2012 Series Championships with Toyota and TRD, U.S.A.

 

 

 

 

SCHEDULE

FanVision