Nothing that’s occurred during Speedweeks 2014 at Daytona International Speedway has led Johnny Sauter to believe he can’t defend his victory in Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season-opening NextEra Energy Resources 250, driving his No. 98 Nextant Aerospace / Curb Records Toyota Tundra.
“As if winning here last February wasn’t a big enough thrill, Matt (Crafton, 2013 championship-winning ThorSport Racing teammate) and I certainly reinforced what we can do, at Talladega.”
Sauter tied a NASCAR national series standard by winning the first two races of the 2013 Truck Series season and, by the time he was done had swept both Truck superspeedway races, as he won at Talladega Superspeedway in October. Sauter’s three wins were the most by a series regular and launched him into fourth place in the championship.
“We’re looking to be just a little more consistent and try to avoid getting caught up in other people’s problems,” said Sauter, who’ll be working this year with a new crew chief, former General Motors engineer Gene Wachtel. “Our Nextant / Curb Tundra was quick in testing and it’s been quick enough, and stable enough this week to give us a pretty good feeling about having something for them (Friday) night.”
Sauter had the sixth-best speed in Wednesday’s opening practice, while Crafton was third and their young teammate, Jeb Burton was 10th. In Thursday’s second practice, Sauter was 17th while Crafton was fifth and Burton, eighth.
In Thursday’s Happy Hour, Sauter was disappointed not to get out with the largest group of trucks that practiced for Friday’s first group qualifying session in a new era of NASCAR qualifying, but he after posting the 15th-best lap to Crafton’s third and Burton’s fifth; Sauter had a pretty good idea of what to expect.
“We’re not really going to have an idea of what to expect until we get 35 other trucks out there together,” Sauter said. “But qualifying will give us a little bit of any idea of what we’ll have to look forward to in the race.”
In the season’s second superspeedway race, last fall at Talladega, Crafton and Sauter had barely separated themselves from the field and were heading for a one-two finish that would’ve been the fourth in ThorSport’s 18-year Truck Series history — when, within a half-mile of the finish line a massive pileup occurred that swept Crafton into it while Sauter crossed the finish line first.
“This race last year and Talladega proved what having committed teammates means,” Sauter said. “And Matt, Jeb and I are pretty sure we can pull off something special in the race with our 2014 Tundras.”
The second multi-segment, elimination-style group qualifying for a NASCAR national series was scheduled to happen Friday at 4:10 p.m. ET with Keystone Light Pole Qualifying setting the 36-truck starting lineup, again with live coverage on FOX Sports 1.
Friday’s 100-lap, 250-mile main event will be telecast live on FOX Sports 1 at 7:30 p.m. ET, preceded by The Setup pre-race show at 6:30. The live broadcast on MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio begins at 7. 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.