NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: UNOH 200 Presented by ZLOOP
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Wednesday, August 20
The Time: 8:30 p.m. (ET)
TV: FOX Sports 1, 8 p.m. (ET)
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90
Distance: 106.6 miles (200 laps)
ThorSport Packs 1-2 Punch
ThorSport has not one, but two drivers at the top of NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series standings following a record-setting performance at Michigan this weekend.
Team drivers Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton finished 1-2 in Saturday’s Careers For Veterans 200, blazing away from the field in the fastest race in series history with an average speed of 161.110 mph. The new mark demolished the previous record of 154.737 mph set at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012.
On top of their display of speed, Sauter and Crafton ousted Ryan Blaney as the standings leader, taking the top two spots, respectively. Going into Wednesday’s UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway (8:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1), Sauter leads Crafton in the standings by nine points.
The Sandusky, Ohio-based outfit owned by Duke and Rhonda Thorson and partnered with Mike Curb now has trucks ranked first and third in the owner standings: Sauter’s No. 98 and Crafton’s No. 88 Toyota Tundras. ThorSport also owns the 14th-ranked truck in the series, the No. 13 Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton.
“(I’m) just proud of this effort from everybody at ThorSport,” said Sauter following the race. “This is a great day for us. This puts us in the points lead, just halfway through the season — with some really good races coming up for us.”
His first of the season, Sauter’s victory also marks his lone checkered flag at Michigan. He has now won at least one series race in six consecutive seasons, trailing Dennis Setzer’s all-time record of eight. Sauter boasts 10 top-10 finishes and the highest average finish on the season (7.2).
ThorSport will attempt to keep its momentum heading into Bristol. Sauter has two top-five finishes in six starts there, while Crafton owns six top-10 finishes in 11 starts. Burton took 12th last season in his first-career start at Bristol.
The Last Coliseum Hosts Next Generation
Bristol brings a young flavor to this week’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Eight combined current and former NASCAR Next members will attempt to tackle the .533-mile course. Present NASCAR Next members Cole Custer, 16, Gray Gaulding, 16, and Ben Rhodes, 17, make their first truck starts at the track while alumni Ryan Blaney, 20, Darrell Wallace Jr., 20, Jeb Burton, 22, Corey LaJoie, 22, and Ben Kennedy, 22, are all also entered.
This season, the program has produced three victories claimed by Wallace (two) and current member Erik Jones (one). Kyle Busch will be racing in place of Jones, 18, who became the youngest driver to win a NASCAR national series event last year at Phoenix (17 years, five months, nine days), in the No. 51 Toyota Tundra for the second consecutive race. In fact, Busch hopes to keep his record as the youngest NCWTS Bristol winner (21 years, 10 months, 23 days) by fending off his junior peers.
Contributing to the youth in the field is NASCAR’s rule that drivers between 16-18-years-old can compete on tracks 1.1 miles or less.
This week’s 2014-15 NASCAR Next entries have a combined 10 races of Truck Series experience - all this year. Custer has two top-10 finishes in four starts and won the 21 Means 21 Pole Award at Gateway, making him the youngest winner of a NASCAR national series pole (16 years, four months and 22 days). Rhodes has posted one top 10 in his two starts, while Gaulding is searching for his first top-10 finish after coming up short in four starts this season.
Blaney Focused on Championship
At the ripe age of 20, Ryan Blaney took his latest leap in his quest to NASCAR stardom when Wood Brothers Racing announced last Thursday that he will drive the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
Although excited about his jump to NASCAR’s premier series, he still has unfinished business.
“Most of my focus is on that truck and trying to win a championship,” declared Blaney at Michigan.
Blaney lost his points lead at Michigan, where he finished 21st after winning the pole. He now sits at third in the standings, trailing Johnny Sauter by 16 points and Matt Crafton by nine. The performance also snapped his seven-race top-10 finish streak, the longest one on the series this season.
The No. 29 Ford F-150 driver will attempt to get back on track on Wednesday at Bristol, where he boasts two top-10 finishes in as many starts, including a third-place result last year.
Bristol should be welcoming to Blaney, who excels on short tracks, claiming nine top-10 finishes in 12 starts (75%).
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Etc.
Bristol Bits: Former motocross competitor Justin Boston will make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut with Venturini Motorsports at Bristol Motor Speedway driving the No. 25 Toyota. Boston was motivated to switch from motorcycles to stock cars after attending a NCWTS race with his family at Dover, which, like Bristol, is a concrete, high-banked track. … Corey LaJoie, son of two-time Nationwide Series champion Randy LaJoie, will compete in his second NCWTS race of the season, driving the No. 92 truck owned by Ricky Benton. … Country music artist Dierks Bentley will close out Wednesday night at Bristol, headlining a concert immediately following the UNOH 200. CMT will record a portion of the concert and feature one of Bentley's top hits during a “Hot 20 Countdown” episode next month.