Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, the 11th stop on the 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) schedule, was not a track Johnny Sauter had circled on his calendar as one of his favorite stops on the circuit. However, following a second-place finish in the Pocono Mountains 150 on Saturday, Sauter may just change his mind. The strong run was not only a track-best finish for the driver of the No. 98 Nextant Aerospace/Curb Records Toyota Tundra, it was a season-best finish for the ThorSport Racing driver.
The Necedah, Wisc. native had mixed results in his four previous starts at Pocono, but a solid qualifying effort placed the No. 98 Tundra sixth on the grid to start the 60-lap race. Early in the event, Sauter radioed to his crew that his Tundra was “really tight on exit” as he started to fade back in the running order. Fortunately, a caution fell on lap 18 for an accident in Turn 2 and crew chief Dennis Connor brought the ThorSport Racing driver to pit road for two tires and multiple chassis adjustments to combat a loose on entry and tight on exit balance. Sauter restarted the event on lap 21 from the ninth position and would hold serve until several of the leaders began making their way down pit road.
In preparation to pit under green, Sauter reported that his Toyota Tundra was “still free on entry and tight in the center, but better than it was before.” In order to gain time on the leaders, Connor elected to pit for fuel only on lap 38, allowing the ThorSport team to gain valuable track position under the green flag. Unfortunately, the balance was not to Sauter’s liking and the No. 98 machine fell outside the top-12 on the scoreboard.
The turning point in the race came on lap 48 when the second caution of the afternoon came out for an accident in Turn 1.The team discussed the possibility of pitting, but knew they could gain valuable track position if several trucks in front of them pitted and they remained on the track. Although the No. 98 machine was still “really loose on entry and tight off,” they remained on the track to restart from the sixth position on lap 52 of 60. The decision to stay out paid off, as Sauter was able to endure two restarts, including a green-white-checkered finish, and bring his No. 98 Nextant Aerospace/Curb Records Toyota home in the runner-up position behind race winner Austin Dillon. The solid run was Sauter’s second top-five finish at the “Tricky Triangle” and his fifth top-five finish of the season.
• Sauter, second, was the highest finishing Toyota driver in Saturday afternoon’s NCWTS race at Pocono Raceway
• In five starts at Pocono Raceway, Sauter has two top-five finishes. Saturday’s second-place finish was a track-best for the ThorSport Racing driver.
• Sauter’s second-place finish in the Pocono Mountains 150 was also his season-best finish
• According to NASCAR’s Loop Data Statistics, Sauter ranked third in Laps in the Top 15 (64), fourth in Average Running Position (7.297), and seventh in Driver Rating (97.8) at Pocono Raceway following the Pocono Mountains 150
• In 11 starts this season, Sauter has five top-five and nine top-10 finishes
• Sauter moves up to second in the 2014 NCWTS driver points following a second-place finish at Pocono, a mere seven points behind leader Ryan Blaney
• Austin Dillon won the 5th annual Pocono Mountains 150, ending Toyota’s 12-race win streak dating back to last November. The 12 consecutive victories is a new NASCAR record – and the longest string of victories by one manufacturer in the 19 year history of the series
• Joey Coulter, Clint Bowyer and Ryan Blaney rounded out the remaining top-five finishers
• Up next: The NCWTS will take a week off before heading to Michigan International Speedway for the Careers for Veterans 200 on Saturday, August 16
Quote – Johnny Sauter:
“What a crazy day full of pit strategy. Just proud of the guys on this Nextant Aerospace/Curb Records Toyota, it was a great run. This is a tough race track for me. For whatever reason, Pocono has been an Achilles heel for me. I don’t know what it is about that tunnel turn, but it’s got my number. Pit stops were great today. Track position seemed to be the name of the game all day long – who was pitting, who wasn’t, who was where and restarts are really crucial at the end of these things. I gave the 3 truck (Austin Dillon) the best push I could and probably pushed him too far away to even have a run at him. He had a really good truck there at the end of the race. Just proud of everybody. This was my best finish here, and at a place that I’m not particularly that fond of.”
Practice:13th (55.040 seconds/163.517mph)
Final Practice:12th (54.992 seconds/163.660mph)
Qualifying:6th (53.848 seconds/167.137mph)
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.