Sauter’s Strong Performance at Martinsville Ends With a 7th Place Finish

Oct 27, 2014

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The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) went from NASCAR’s longest track at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, one week ago, to NASCAR’s shortest track, Martinsville Speedway, for race No. 19 on the 2014 schedule. The half-mile oval has been known to produce great battles and flared tempers and Saturday’s Kroger 200 was no different.

Johnny Sauter, who had an average running position of 3.4 throughout the 200-lap race, led the field twice for 41 laps and looked like the truck to beat until contact with the No. 17 Tundra late in the race caused the driver to lose valuable track position and ultimately a third grandfather clock.

Starting from the seventh position, Sauter proved his strength early when he took the lead from ThorSport Racing teammate, Matt Crafton on lap 65. The No. 98 Toyota Tundra paced the field for 38 circuits before surrendering the lead under caution at lap 102 for a scheduled stop. Crew chief Jeff Hensley opted to make it a one-stop race and called the No. 98 machine to pit road for four tires and fuel.

Restarting ninth on lap 107 due to pit strategy by the leaders, Sauter received damage to the right front fender of his Toyota Tundra when the field stacked up in Turn 2. Although the damage caused his Smokey Snuff Tundra to be tight in traffic, Sauter was able to work his way up to the second position by lap 140 and retained the race lead on lap 185. The ThorSport Racing driver would lead the field for three circuits until attempting to make his way through lap traffic on lap 187. Sauter was forced to the high side in a four-wide battle for the lead, and ultimately lost ground and shuffled back to the second position.

Sauter maintained the runner-up spot on the track until the No. 17 Tundra got to the inside of his left rear quarter panel, running him up the track and ultimately back to the seventh position, where he eventually crossed the stripe behind race winner Darrell Wallace, Jr.

• Johnny Sauter made his 14th start at Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 200
• Sauter started seventh and finished seventh, his fourth top-five and sixth top-10 finish at the half-mile oval
• The driver led the field twice for 41 laps, bringing his 2014 total to 154 laps led
• According to NASCAR’s Loop Data Statistics, Sauter was ranked second in Average Running Position (3.425), second in Driver Rating (125.9), and first in Fastest Laps Run (28) following the Kroger 200
• In 19 starts this season, Sauter has one win, eight top-five and 14 top-10 finishes
• Sauter remains fourth in the 2014 NCWTS driver point standings, 40 behind teammate and leader, Matt Crafton
• Darrell Wallace, Jr. won the Kroger 200 at Martinsville followed by Timothy Peters (2nd), Crafton (3rd), Erik Jones (4th), and Ryan Blaney (5th)
• The NCWTS heads to Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth for the WinStar World Casino 350k on Friday, October 31

Quote – Johnny Sauter:
“It was a very eventful day to say the least. It was good racing. The 98 got into us on that long run. I just tried to save my stuff. I tried to be smart, because I knew we had chorded a right front tire at that point. We came in and put tires on, and then the 34 shot everybody three wide, four wide, and I got clobbered from behind. I was standing on the brakes. I don’t know who hit me from behind, but they were driving off their hood pins and just clobbered me. I was standing on the brakes with two feet trying not to get piled into. I got piled into a little bit. All in all, not a terrible day.”

Practice: 7th, 19.995 seconds/94.70mph
Final Practice: 2nd, 19.75 seconds/95.86mph
Qualifying: 3rd, 19.69 seconds/96.13mph

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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.