Thursday, Jun 08
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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MARTINSVILLE MAGIC: The saying goes, 'home is where the heart is.' That holds true for Red Horse Racing driver, Timothy Peters and his home track of Martinsville Speedway. The Danville, VA native joined Red Horse Racing in 2009 and has raced in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 15 times at Martinsville Speedway.


His first Truck Series victory at the track came in 2009 where he led 84 laps in only his sixth race with the Red Horse Racing organization. In the five years the driver of the No. 17 Parts Plus Toyota Tundra has been with the team, he has finished seven out of eight races inside the top-10, with five of those inside the top five. There is just something about racing at home in front of your friends and family.   


PARTS PLUS: Parts Plus goes home this weekend with Timothy Peters as the duo pairs for the Martinsville Speedway race. The Memphis-based warehouse distributor originated more than 56 years ago tracing back to a series of jobber programs. Since 2005, Parts Plus has been a member of the Automotive Distribution Network that has over 300 member distributors under five brand names and from over 400 separate warehouses across the United States, Mexico, Canada and Puerto Rico. For more information on Parts Plus and locations near you, visit


CHASSIS HISTORY: Hometown favorite, Timothy Peters and his No. 17 Parts Plus Toyota Tundra team will unload chassis No. 137 this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. Peters last raced this chassis on the road course at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, ON where he finished eighth. This chassis was also used earlier this season at Martinsville Speedway where he qualified third and finished fifth. Last fall at Martinsville, Peters put chassis 137 on the pole, setting a new track record of 96.411 mph (19.641 sec.).


REARVIEW MIRROR - TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY: Timothy Peters and his No. 17 Parts Plus Toyota Tundra qualified for the Fred's 250 presented by Coca-Cola in the 31st position. In a place where qualifying at the front does not dictate the outcome of the race, the team elected to make some changes to the Tundra before the start of the 94-lap event. With that, the team started at the rear of the field when the Truck Series went green at Talladega Superspeedway. Crew chief Butch Hylton and Peters knew the Parts Plus Tundra needed to head to the front of the pack to be in contention at race's end but on lap 66, a competitor made contact with the rear of the No. 17 Tundra sending him into the wall and ending the day for the team. Peters was scored 29th at race's end.


Timothy Peters on Martinsville Speedway:

How do you feel about your chances at another win at Martinsville Speedway?

"I feel pretty good about it. Martinsville fits my driving style. Maybe because this is where I started racing and where I grew up. I've had a lot of laps around Martinsville lately with my Late Model and then with the test last week in our Parts Plus Tundra. This is the time in the season when our momentum kicks into high gear. It'd be really nice to walk out on Saturday night with a grandfather clock."


What is one thing that excites you the most about racing at Martinsville?

"Being at home. You know it's always great to have your family and friends at the race track there to cheer you on and support you. Like Dorothy says, there's no place like home. I've got so many fond memories at this race track, it's just always great to be here."



FINDING SHORT TRACK COMFORT: If you're taking picks on drivers looking to compete for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Martinsville Speedway this weekend, don't count John Wes Townley out of it. The driver of the No. 7 Zaxby's Toyota Tundra has demonstrated considerable talent during this 2013 season with 4 top-10 and 11 top-15 finishes. Four of those top-15 finishes are on tracks one mile in length or less. As the young driver continues to gain confidence on track, you might just find him as one of the front runners in Saturday's Kroger 200.


HE'S A STAT MAN: Crew chief, Mike Beam has been calling the shots in NASCAR for over 30 years. In that time, he has earned one win, four top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in the Sprint Cup Series. He has three Sprint Cup Series victories one which was collected at Martinsville Speedway in 2001 with Ricky Craven. Beam also has five top five and five top-10 finishes in 11 Truck Series races.


WHAT'S NEW AT YOUR LOCAL ZAXBY'S: Zaxby's, a southeast favorite for chicken fingers and wings, has been indescribably good for more than 20 years. The Athens, Georgia based chain offers its guests prepared-at-order Chicken Fingerz, Traditional or Boneless Wings, sandwiches, Zalads and Zappetizers, along with a variety of nine sauces ranging from Wimpy and Tongue Torch to Nuclear and Insane. A meal to rival all others, fans can score big with Zaxby's new Fan Special. The meal includes four signature Chicken Fingers, Crinkle Fries, Texas Toast, Zax Sauce and a Large Beverage. It's a FAN-tastic deal and only around for a limited time. The company operates more than 585 locations in 13 states. John Wes Townley will compete with Zaxby's serving as primary sponsor for the entire 22 Truck Series race schedule. For more information, please visit, or follow on Twitter @Zaxbys.


CHASSIS HISTORY: John Wes Townley and his No. 7 Zaxby's Toyota Tundra team will unload Chassis No. 003 this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. Most recently, the chassis raced at Bristol Motor Speedway in August. At Iowa Speedway in July, Townley finished 12th with this chassis. The chassis was rebuilt after Martinsville Speedway earlier this season. Chassis No. 003 also competed in five races in 2012 including the win at Dover International Speedway, both Martinsville Speedway races, the series first visit to Iowa Speedway in July and Bristol Motor Speedway.


REARVIEW MIRROR - TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY: During Saturday's Fred's 250 presented by Coca-Cola, the driver of the No. 7 Zaxby's Toyota Tundra was there at the end when it mattered most. Townley qualified for the 94-lap event in the 20th position and drove a steady, smart race paying close attention to his competitors around him. The young driver continues to show his development as a driver missing two big accidents on the 2.66-mile superspeedway. The No. 7 Zaxby's Toyota Tundra team carried out its race strategy to put Townley in contention at the end. On the final restart, Townley picked up two positions as he maneuvered thru the melee at the end and crossed the finish line in the seventh place with his damaged truck. The finish marks his third consecutive top-10 finish, with his last five finishes marking 12th or better. His finish also moves him up one position in the driver point standings to 13th.


John Wes Townley on Martinsville Speedway:

What are your thoughts on racing at Martinsville?

"It takes a lot of races at Martinsville for you to get your bearings. Even the best of them can overdrive a corner. It's really easy to do. It's really racy and takes me back to the old days of when I first started racing.


How did the test go at Martinsville Speedway?

"Test went really well. We accomplished what we needed to. We changed a lot on our Zaxby's Tundra to see what moved the needle the right way and the wrong way. We have a book now of what will work depending on the conditions of the track. All in all, I think we learned a lot that we can apply for the race. This being a track we come back to, from a driver's stand point there is a lot you can do to prepare to get your mind right for the second go around. We are running really well right now and I'm really looking forward to this weekend."



As Max Gresham climbed from his No. 8 Made in USA Brand (MIUSA) Chevrolet on Saturday, smoke and sparks were still spread across the frontstretch of the Talladega Superspeedway.


Gresham capped off a great weekend at Talladega Superspeedway with a career-best superspeedway finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS). Not only did the Sharp-Gallaher Racing driver get past a tumbling truck in the "Big One" on the final lap to collect an eighth-place finish in the fred's 250 Powered by Coca-Cola, he also accomplished his best NASCAR Camping World Truck Series qualifying position to date.


A massive 12-truck crash coming to the checkered flag created one of the wildest finishes of the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season. But for Gresham and Sharp-Gallaher Racing, it was a rare opportunity to dodge disaster for the top-ten finish.


As soon as Gresham parked his Silverado after the race, he examined the truck damage from the final-lap melee. That's when he learned he posted a career-best superspeedway finish.


"I don't know what's a more-welcomed surprise - missing that wreck or finishing eighth," Gresham said. "What a wild day."


The 20-year-old made his 34th career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start in the second position at the superspeedway. Gresham was the 29th competitor to attempt the restrictor-plate track and posted a lap of 54.403 seconds. His previous best qualifying effort was at Michigan International Speedway, where he qualified fourth earlier this season.


Gresham qualified the Made in USA Brand truck on the front row with a fast lap of 176.020 mph. Like any race that requires the use of a speed-reducing tapered spacer, he was shuffled to the back as often as he worked his way back to the front. He was as high as second place on the fourth lap, and 11 laps later he was down to 17th.


Gresham narrowly escaped a six-truck accident on the 67th of 94 laps. His No. 8 Sharp-Gallaher Racing truck was damaged by another competitor during the ensuing pit stop. He was forced to make two more stops so the team could make repairs.


By lap 78, Gresham was up to seventh place when he was forced off the track and onto the apron by another driver which dropped him back to 24th place.


"It was time to get going and we got ourselves in a good line of traffic," Gresham said. "We were moving up to put ourselves in a great spot for the finish when we got forced off the track."


Gresham mounted one more rally, getting up to 14th on the final lap. As the lead pack came through the tri-oval, two trucks made contact with each other and a chain reaction ensued that collected much of the field.


Gresham surged through the sparks and smoke to finish eighth.


"Four more inches and we would have finished third," crew chief Chris Showalter said.


"The 32 truck (Miguel Paludo) flipped right in front of me," the 20-year-old driver from Milner, Ga., said. "I can't believe we missed it. It proves again that at Talladega, it's all about being in the right place at the right time."


Gresham now moves from the fastest racetrack on the Camping World Truck Series schedule to the slowest - the Martinsville Speedway - for next Saturday's Kroger 200. It will be Gresham's 35th career start in the truck series.

Max Gresham PR

Justin Lofton and the No. 6 Lofton Cattle/J6Ink team started the fred's 250 Powered by Coca-Cola from the 16th position and after persevering through multiple on-track incidents, was collected in the final lap's "big one" and scored with a 20th-place result. Following the green flag, Lofton demonstrated that the pink adorned Lofton Cattle/J6Ink machine, painted in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, was balanced and fast as he advanced in the running order. On lap 53, crew chief Bryan Berry called him to pit road under green-flag conditions for two fresh tires and a full tank of Sunoco fuel. A lap-55 accident occurred while the No. 6 team was a lap down to the leader; however, as the recipient of the Lucky Dog award, Lofton was returned to the lead lap. As the 94-lap event neared its completion, the excitement on the 2.66-mile track began to heat up. After narrowly avoiding an incident on lap 66, the Westmorland, Calif., native drove to pit road so the team could check if the truck was damaged. The unscheduled pit stop placed the black, white and pink truck towards the back of the field and as Lofton was working his way to the front again, he received significant left-front damage during the next multi-truck accident on lap 80. The Berry-led crew made fast repairs on pit road and following the next caution on lap 88, the team received the Lucky Dog award again. Returned to the lead lap and in the 20th position, Lofton was ready to battle his way forward during the three-lap shootout to the checkered flag. On the final trip down the frontstretch of the Alabama-based facility, chaos ensued and resulted in many heavily damaged trucks, including the Lofton Cattle/J6Ink Chevrolet. NASCAR's unofficial results list Lofton in the 20th position at the race's conclusion.


Justin Lofton Quote:

"That was a pretty crazy situation, and I'm just glad that no one was seriously injured. When you look at the damaged trucks, it's pretty impressive that everyone was able to walk away from that. Thank you also to the No. 6 Lofton Cattle/J6Ink Chevrolet team for all of their hard work. They worked hard all day and never gave up, putting us in position to get a solid finish going into that last lap."


Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished a disappointing 33rd in the Camping World RV Sales 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Talladega (Ala) Superspeedway.

Patrick was in the top-10 for much of the race, but a mistake on her final pit stop ended any chance of a good finish for the GoDaddy team.

Due to the nature of restrictor-plate racing at Talladega and its sister track, Daytona (Fla) International Speedway, green flag pit stops are challenging for drivers, crew chiefs and spotters. The majority of the 43-car field is in a tight pack, using the “draft” of other cars to maintain the maximum speed possible. If a car is removed from the draft, it quickly loses pace with the lead cars and cannot make up the difference alone.

Because of this, teams work with other teams to pit on the same lap so the cars always have drafting partners to work with once they resume racing. Often when the lead car in the draft heads to pit road, the cars behind will attempt to follow to ensure they stay in a group.

Patrick was in the middle of the draft on the high side of the racetrack on lap 161 when several of the lead cars began to slow and head to pit road exiting turn four. From the high side of the racetrack, Patrick attempted to get down to the bottom lane and slow to the 55-mph pit road speed mandated by NASCAR.

Unfortunately, Patrick overshot pit road, slid through the grass and missed her pit stall. The error forced her to make another lap before pitting, and then Patrick had to serve a drive-through penalty as her initial entry onto pit road was faster than 55 mph.

“We just didn’t communicate well on that final pit stop,” Patrick said. “We were on the high side and couldn’t get down to where we needed to be to pit. We were trying to pit with the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.). I know it’s a challenge for the spotters – you’re trying to work with other spotters on when to pit and obviously keep track of the on-track stuff. It’s a lot, and it’s happening fast. You have a split-second to make a decision, and we should have made another lap. We weren’t where we needed to be. You need to be on the bottom when you’re pitting, and we didn’t do that. We’ll discuss it and learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again. It’s disappointing, and none of us feel good about it. You win as a team and lose as a team. It’s tough for everybody. The GoDaddy guys gave me a great car.”

Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished 30 spots behind Stenhouse, who placed third. Patrick remains 28th in the point standings and has 565 points.


Race Highlights: 

  • Richard Childress Racing teammates finished fourth (Paul Menard), 12th (Kevin Harvick) and 21st (Jeff Burton) in the Camping World RV Sales 500.
  • Following the event at Talladega Superspeedway, Harvick is tied for third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, 26 markers behind the leader, while Menard is 16th and Burton sits 20th.
  • The No. 29 Chevrolet SS team is tied for third in the Sprint Cup Series owner championship point standings, with the No. 27 team ranked 16th in the standings and the No. 31 team 21st.
  • According to NASCAR's Post-Race Loop Data Statistics, Menard had the fastest Green-Flag Speed, was the second-Fastest Driver Early in a Run, completed the fourth-most Green-Flag Passes (951) and earned the fifth-best Driver Rating (98.9).
  • Combined, Menard and Harvick posted 17 of the Fastest Laps Run.
  • RCR teammates Harvick and Menard ranked third and fourth in the Closers category gaining 13 and 12 positions, respectively during the final 19 laps of the race.
  • Burton was the 10th-Fastest Driver Late in a Run.
  • Jamie McMurray earned his first victory of the 2013 Sprint Cup Series season and was followed to the finish line by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Menard and Kyle Busch.
  • The next Sprint Cup Series race is the Goody's Headache Shot 500 presented by Kroger at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 27. The 33rd race of the 2013 season is scheduled to be televised live on ESPN beginning at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Satellite Radio, channel 90.




2011 CC Team Icon 27 NSCS Menards 

Paul Menard Does it Right with a Fourth-Place Finish at Dega



Paul Menard and the No. 27 Menards/Duracell Chevrolet team started the 188-lap NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway from 34th place. The  reason he started there was because qualifying was rained out on Saturday, thus setting the starting lineup per the NASCAR rule book based off the first practice speeds on Friday. But, once the green flag waved over the 2.66-mile tri-oval, Menard wasted little time letting the other 42 competitors know he was there to race. Within the first three laps, he was up 17th when the first caution waved on that third circuit. With no need to pit, Menard started to get a feel of his Chevrolet SS and racing conditions running three and four wide around the high-banked track. Making two pit stops under green-flag conditions for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments, the former ice racer ran in the top-five and top-10 positions for a large majority of the event.  A pit stop on lap 124, while running third, and another on lap 162 for right-side tires and fuel kept Menard and the Slugger Labbe-led team in contention. With 15 laps remaining, Menard had his neon yellow No. 27 in fifth place and would remain there until the white flag waved. As the field exited Turn 2, the third-place car got sideways and spun as the field roared onward. With the checkered and caution flag waving, Menard was, at first, credited with third, but post-race results showed he had finished fourth. This was his third top-five and ninth top-10 finish of the 2013 season, which moved him up one spot in the driver championship point standings to 16th place.



Start- 34                     Finish- 4                      Laps Led- 0          Points- 16th


Paul Menard Quote

: "This was just what this Menards/Duracell Chevrolet team needed. Our luck at restrictor-plate tracks hasn't been too good this year. We were able to get up near the front and run there most of the race, which was good. The car was great and there at the end, we were all single file and nobody was going to make a move. We were waiting to see how would, I just know I wasn't going to be the one. I've done that before, and it hasn't worked out too well. " 




Harvick Finishes 12th at Talladega Superspeedway


After starting from the 33rd position and avoiding the infamous 'Big One,' Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Jimmy John's team finished 12th at Talladega Superspeedway. Following the strategy implemented by crew chief Gil Martin and the team before the race, the Richard Childress Racing driver laid back in the field during early stages of the race in an attempt to avoid the destruction that is synonymous with restrictor-plate racing. With roughly 50 laps remaining in the 188-lap affair, Harvick began working his way toward the front of the field  settling into the top five before making a final pit stop on lap 163 for right-side tires and fuel under green-flag conditions. The California native returned to the track without a drafting partner and fell as far back as 25th before crossing the finish line 12th. Following the sixth race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Harvick is tied for third in the point standings, 26 markers out of the lead.


Start - 33         Finish - 12         Laps Led - 0        Points - Tied for 3rd



"We got ourselves in position to be where we needed to be at the end of the race coming to the last pit stop and then lost everything that we gained when we couldn't find a drafting partner when we came off of pit road. I just hate it for all our Jimmy John's guys. We had a strategy that we stuck to and then we were just last off of pit road." 

2011 CC Team Logo NSCS 31 CAT

Burton Finishes 21st at Talladega Superspeedway


Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team finished in the 21st position at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday afternoon. Starting from the second position based on speeds from Friday's first practice session after NASCAR officials were forced to cancel Saturday's qualifying due to rain showers, the 21-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner maintained a top-10 running position for the first part of the event. After coming to pit road for minor adjustments on a four-tire pit stop just before the halfway point of the event, the South Boston, Va., native reported that his black and yellow machine was loose and he dropped to the back of the field to avoid being caught up in the "Big One." The Richard Childress Racing driver climbed back into the top 10 for a late-race run to the checkered flag, but Burton radioed to the Caterpillar pit crew that the rear-view mirror had fallen off the car and his peripheral vision was altered. Without the ability to see different lanes and maneuver with confidence, Burton was forced to stay in the back of the lead pack, but missed the multi-car accident on the final lap and crossed the finish line in 21st-place under caution-flag conditions. Burton remains 20th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.


Start - 2          Finish - 22          Laps Led - 0          Points - 20th



"We had a strong No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet and could run in the front when we wanted. I couldn't really go like I wanted to at the end when the mirror broke. It's hard to be aggressive when you are not sure what's next to you on the track."



Johnny Sauter took firm aim on a seat at the season-ending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' awards ceremony with a spectacular win Saturday with his No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota in the eighth annual Fred's 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega Superspeedway.


The victory, Sauter's third this season and a bookend to his win in the season-opening race on Talladega's "twin" racetrack, Daytona International Speedway, moved Sauter from eighth in the standings to sixth, only four points out of fifth. The top-five drivers in the standings will be honored on stage at the Nov. 18 awards ceremony in Miami Beach, Fla. 


Sauter's made his run back towards the top-five since three-time Truck Series champion crew chief Dennis Connor took over as Sauter's chief mechanic in August. Since then, Connor's tried to create a closer working relationship with ThorSport Racing teammates Matt Crafton and his crew chief, Carl "Junior" Joiner, and that was apparent in the last third of the Talladega race.

Sauter was pushed to the lead after the final restart with three laps to go by Crafton's No. 88 Slim Jim / Menards Toyota and the only downside to Sauter's victory, the ninth of his career in 126 starts, was that Crafton was caught-up in a 12-truck accident that broke out behind their tight, two-truck tandem less than 400 yards from the finish line.

Crafton did spin across the line in ninth position and expanded his lead in the championship to 57 points over Ty Dillon with four races remaining. Since Sauter won the season opener and Crafton's led the standings for the last 14 races, the ThorSport pair are the only drivers to lead the Truck Series this season. 

To achieve his short-term goal of the top-five Sauter, whose three wins are the most this season by a Truck Series regular -- Sprint Cup star and Truck Series owner/driver Kyle Busch has four -- and are part of his series-best eight top-five finishes in 18 events, will race on four more tracks in the next four weeks, three of which he's won on in the last two seasons.

"You can't ever give up and this ThorSport team has proven that, over and over," Sauter said after leaving Talladega's Victory Lane. "It was a crazy race, like all these (superspeedway) races usually are. But I watched last year's race, where I finished second, the other night and studied it pretty hard and I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do, all day.

"Last year I pushed Parker Kligerman to the win so I knew with about six (laps) left the tandem was going to be the way to go. And then it just worked out perfectly because my teammate Matt Crafton was there the whole time (over the last 33 laps). At one point, we were 15th and 16th with about 30-to-go and I pushed him to the lead and we were sitting there looking pretty good. From there we had track position the rest of the day." 


But from there, there were also four of the race's seven caution periods, including the final one that flew when Sauter had opened-up a sizeable lead over the melee erupting behind him. In the end, Sauter led only five laps as an integral part of a day in which a Truck Series Talladega record for lead changes (29) was set and the mark for different leaders (13) was tied.

"I've always wanted to win at this racetrack and to be able to do it (Saturday) was big," Sauter said. "I want to say (the final laps) were by design, but it really wasn't. (Me and Crafton) actually got separated a little bit and as we hooked back up, I rode the brake and we hooked back up and I was like, 'Hey this is actually going to work out better and we're going to have huge momentum.'

"With three-to-go there's nobody you'd rather have on your rear bumper cover than your teammate, and he pushed and pushed and pushed and it worked out in our favor. It's unfortunate that Matt got tore up because it would have been really cool to have another one-two ThorSport finish but I'm proud of everyone at ThorSport -- what a great effort."

Crafton now has more than a full-race lead, as the most points a driver can gain in a race is 48 -- if Crafton doesn't even start -- and his team has recorded 17 top-10 finishes in the season's 18 races. Sauter had come to Talladega 26 points out of a seat at the championship banquet that the top-five finishers earn.

Connor would do anything to have four more like Saturday.

"We had a team meeting before the race to talk about what we wanted to do, and Johnny and spotter Tab (Boyd) had worked out exactly what they wanted to do," Connor said. "But usually all the planning that you do falls to the wayside when they drop the green flag, so (Saturday) was just our day because everything we planned worked out, from our fuel mileage to our strategy.

"We could have done a couple of green-white-checkers if we had to, but I'm so lucky to come back to the series with a great driver like Johnny and a team that puts in the long, hard hours and have really put their lives by the wayside to finish out this year and get the best results that we possibly can."

The win was the ninth of Sauter's five-year Truck Series career with ThorSport and indeed, it was the team-high eighth win for ThorSport this season. That total includes four wins by ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards champion Frank Kimmel and Crafton's Truck Series score at Kansas in the spring. The appreciation easily flowed out of Sauter late Saturday afternoon in Alabama. 

"This is awesome," Sauter said in an emotion-charged Victory Lane. "I'm so proud of everybody at ThorSport, Toyota, TRD (Toyota Racing Development), Triad (Racing Technologies, engine supplier), Carolina Nut, Curb Records, (owners) Duke and Rhonda Thorson, (listed owner) Mike Curb -- all these people that make this possible and Matt Crafton, especially.

"That was, I think, the best illustration of teamwork you could ever have. I'm so proud of him. Unfortunately they got tore up (but) this is a huge win for all these guys, for everybody at ThorSport. Thank you everybody -- it was a great day and we have a big week coming up."

Sauter's team, led by Connor, has finished first, second, 10th and fourth in its last four starts, moving from 39 points out of fifth to his current margin.

Even better, the series next races at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, where Sauter also won, in April, as he started the season with two wins and four consecutive top-five finishes. And while the victory was the first on a superspeedway for Connor, he has no less than 10 career Truck wins on tracks under a mile -- though he has none at Martinsville.
Thorsport PR

Saturday's Fred's 250 Powered by Coca-Cola for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Talladega Superspeedway was almost everything Matt Crafton could've hoped for, even though his No. 88 Slim Jim / Menards Toyota finished the race wrecked, but just past the finish line.

In a bizarre last half-mile -- even by Talladega standards -- Crafton went from looking like a second-place finisher to his winning ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter's No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota to a smoking and stationary ninth.

But the most important aspect of the finish -- in the event that championship leader Crafton feared the most in the five-week stretch to the season finale that started at Talladega -- was that Crafton and his team left "The World's Fastest Speedway" with a 57-point championship lead over Ty Dillon with four races remaining.

Talladega marked the 14th consecutive race after which Crafton's led the standings and this season, no one but he and Sauter has ever led.

"That was a great speedway race truck -- even if it didn't qualify so well," Crafton said shortly after returning to the garage. "There at the end, I thought we were going to have something. I started to pull out and do something, too, there at the end."

But before he could make a move on Sauter, and less than 400 yards from the finish -- as a 12-truck wreck that ruined virtually all the lead-pack trucks started breaking out right behind them -- Crafton's Tundra was hooked by Ross Chastain's Ford when Chastain's "pusher," Parker Kligerman ran into Chastain's right-rear quarter panel.

"Absolutely, we were going for the win," Crafton said. "That's what they pay me for. It was going to be a side-by-side ThorSport finish, for sure."

It didn't work out that way, but with Sauter and Crafton seriously out-running all their championship rivals, they liked the look of things after the dust had settled.

Crafton now has more than a full-race lead, as the most points a driver can gain in a race is 48 -- if Crafton doesn't even start -- and his team has recorded 17 top-10 finishes in the season's 18 races. Sauter moved from eighth to sixth, within four points of fifth after coming to Talladega 26 points out of a seat at the championship banquet that the top-five finishers earn.

Crafton, who carried a 41-point lead in the standings over defending Truck Series champion James Buescher into the 18th of 22 races this season, played his strategy perfectly all day. Crafton rode around at the back of the field for two-thirds of the race as a Truck Series Talladega record for lead changes (29) and leaders (tied at 13) was established.

Crafton did lead one lap, during the second of seven caution periods at lap 22 while Buescher had led the most laps to that point, 16. But with 33 laps remaining, Crafton's game of repeated pit stops -- often twice under the same caution flag -- seemed to have paid off with Crafton sitting 15th and Sauter pushing him from 16th.

Two laps later, the ThorSport pair showed how effective the tandem draft could be as they moved to the lead three-quarters of the way through the lap, only to have Dillon lead at the line.

Shortly after that, Buescher was wiped-out in a mid-pack wreck that ultimately left him in 26th spot and now third, 58 points behind Crafton and one position in the points behind Dillon, who worked well enough with Buescher to lead the most laps, although the wild finish left Dillon in 14th.

But as different pit and fuel strategies played out over the final 25 laps, including four cautions, the ThorSport pair was locked-into the top 10. The seventh and final caution set up a three-lap run to the checkers, but in their final strategic coup Sauter and Crafton lined up nose-to-tail in second and fourth, respectively.

When the green flag flew they quickly connected and then were locked in a nose-to-tail tandem draft for more than two laps before the closing melee began. In the end, both ThorSport teammates' praise for each other was effusive.

"You (media) beat me up on (a ride-in-the-back strategy), always," Crafton said, laughing. "I just can't thank Johnny -- everybody on this team -- we just never give up. We had very, very slow trucks by ourselves, but when they locked-up (in a tandem) it was game on."

Crafton's plan to stay near the rear was embellished when he had to guide his No. 88 Tundra to the back of the field on the pace laps from his 23rd starting position after crew chief Carl "Junior" Joiner had directed his team to rebuild the truck's fuel system after it didn't behave well during qualifying.

ThorSport's game now switches from the series' longest oval track to its shortest, the half-mile at Martinsville Speedway, where the trucks race next Saturday afternoon. In the spring, Sauter won at Martinsville and Crafton -- who extended his record consecutive Truck Series starts string to 312 races -- came-from-behind to finish second.
ThorSport PR

Trevor Bayne and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew showed in Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 500 at Talladega Superspeedway that when it comes to restrictor-plate racing they’re among the best in the Sprint Cup Series. Bayne had to start 26th after qualifying was rained out, but once the green flag dropped on Sunday, he and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion were on the march toward  the front.

After less than 30 laps, Bayne was knocking on the door of the top 10 and for most of the remainder of the race he kept his Ford Fusion inside the top 10 and was as high as fourth at Lap 96 and posted one of the fastest laps of the day at 201.5 mph. He dodged disaster on Lap 80 when Marcos Ambrose and Juan Pablo Montoya wrecked just in front of him, and the Motorcradt/Quick Lane team had a good day on pit road.

The only hiccup came on the final trip down pit road, a green-flag stop with 25 laps remaining. Trying to get on and off pit road as quickly as possible, Bayne inadvertently locked his brakes, sliding his front tires as he pulled into his pit stall.

Crew chief Donnie Wingo, knowing that the front tires likely had been flat-spotted during the slide, made a quick call to change four tires instead of two. The extra time in the pit area caused Bayne to lose the lead draft. With no more caution flags in the race, he was relegated to a 23rd-place finish.

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said that from a performance standpoint he and his team are proud of their efforts. “We had a fast car all day,” Wood said. “Even on the last stop, Trevor was just trying to get all he could on pit road. “A lot of drivers had trouble getting into their pit stall, and there were a lot of penalties on pit road today due to speeding."

“And we didn’t have a choice on changing four tires." "When you’re running 200 miles per hour and have reason to believe you may have a tire issue, you can’t take a chance on changing just the right-side tires." “Things just happen, especially when you’re being as aggressive as you can be.”

Wood said that in the big picture, the team’s speed at Talladega is a first step toward a strong run in next year’s Daytona 500. “We’ll use this car as a baseline, to build a car for the 500 that’s hopefully even better than this one,” he said.

First however, for Bayne and the Wood Brothers Motorcraft/Quick Lane team, are two more races in 2013, at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 3 and in the Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov.17.

Wood Brothers Racing PR

There’s nothing more Ryan Newman could have asked for than to have an uneventful day in the Camping World RV Sales 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Fortunately for Newman, that’s exactly what he got as he ran a trouble-free race and scored a ninth-place finish in the No. 39 WIX Filters Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).

“I rode around at the back all day basically just trying to keep my nose clean,” said Newman, who recorded his ninth top-10 finish in 24 career Sprint Cup starts at Talladega and his 16th top-10 result this season. “I was waiting for something to happen the whole race, but it never really did except for that wreck on the last lap that unfortunately took out my teammate Austin Dillon. I’m happy that we came out of here with a ninth-place finish and a clean WIX Filters Chevrolet. That wasn’t very much fun out there, though.”

Newman strategically ran at the back of the pack for many of the 188 laps. But he began to make a move toward the front as the race neared conclusion. As the intensity began to build and the field raced sometimes three- and four-wide for numerous laps, the race leaders then returned to single-file racing. Newman found himself in running in the top-10 heading into the final lap of the race. As the field exited Turn 2, Newman’s SHR teammate Dillon, interim driver of SHR’s No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS as he subs for the injured Tony Stewart, was involved in a crash that forced NASCAR to freeze the field and end the race under caution. As a result, Newman was credited with ninth, where he was running at the time.

“I’m proud of my guys for giving me a good racecar this weekend,” Newman said. “That’s another top-10 finish, which we can go home happy with. I’ve not had the best of luck at Talladega, so to be able to drive the car back to the garage is something I certainly feel good about.”

Newman’s SHR teammate Dillon started 16th and finished 26th in his 12th career Sprint Cup start and first at Talladega.

Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 33rd, one lap down. It was Patrick’s 42nd career Sprint Cup start and her second at Talladega. Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished 30 spots behind Stenhouse, who placed third.



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