ThorSport makes progress in Iowa open test
"Hats off to the guys, because they worked their butts off all day," Kimmel said before going off to officiate the evening's round of the Frank Kimmel Street Stock Nationals. "The truck was extremely tight all day, we stayed with an experimental setup and we were satisfied with the day.
"We ended up in the top 20, so it wasn't a bad day. The best thing was, when we made a change and the truck got better we could really tell it. Some changes we made the truck had no reaction, but when it did react it was usually in a positive way so all-in-all I couldn't be happier -- and as usual my guys worked their butts off."
Kimmel's No. 13 Ansell / Menards Toyota got right into the ballpark with his teammates by the end of the day of testing for Saturday's American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen, with his best lap of 66, 23.566 seconds, an average speed of 133.667 mph, coming near the end of final practice.
For Kimmel's ThorSport Racing teammates Johnny Sauter and Truck Series point leader Matt Crafton, it was business as usual at a venue at which they've excelled across the five Truck Series races that have been held at the .875-mile venue.
Sauter's No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota had the best single lap of the trio, and also was the only one to make an extended run. Sauter's mock qualifying run, set with less than 30 minutes left in the final two-hour session, was in 23.174 seconds, an average speed of 135.928 mph that was good for sixth overall.
Crew chief Joe Shear Jr., back in the garage after a two-month, four-race absence via a penalty for a technical violation at Kansas in April, opted to put on four fresh tires for an extended run in the closing moments of practice, and Sauter had the garage's best 10-lap average of the day, 133.261 mph from laps 36-45 of the 52 he ran in final practice.
Sauter, who ran 62 total laps Friday, was the picture of contentment after practice, as the sun set on Iowa Speedway.
"The older I get I don't necessarily go for speed, I go for comfort -- judging off whether I could do that pace all day long -- and every time I talk about comfort we usually win or run really, really strong," Sauter said. "On the long run at the end the truck was really comfortable, and fast. You can have speed, but if it's short-lived, it's worthless. So I just work on comfort.
"My qualifying lap was really comfortable and I thought our race trim was solid. For sure I think we've got a little bit left for qualifying. I don't know if we'll get the pole, but I don't really care -- as long as we can get a decent qualifying lap and it drives like it does right now, we'll be in good shape."
Crafton and crew chief Carl "Junior" Joiner turned the least number of laps of the three ThorSport trucks, 49 in their No. 88 Ideal Door / Menards Toyota, and they had a pretty good idea of their progress through the day. Crafton was middle of the pack in both two-hour sessions, with a best lap in final practice of 23.506 / 134.008.
The good news was Crafton worked strictly on race setups.
"We did zero with qualifying, started with the last setup we had here, which was pretty good, and we struggled with tight all day," Crafton said. "We tried some different tires and some setup changes and made it a lot, lot better right at the end. We were actually too free, but we know what we did to get there, so we can get it back to where it needs to be."
Joiner's last comment was that he was gonna sleep on it and propose some changes Saturday morning, which already this season has resulted in a win at Kansas and a second-place at Martinsville when practice was less-than-stellar for Crafton's team.
On Saturday, there's a single Truck Series practice, from 12:30-2:30 p.m. ET. Truck Series drivers, including ThorSport's trio, will participate in an autograph session under the main grandstands from 3:30-4:15 p.m.
Truck Series' qualifying is at 6 p.m. ET, with tape-delayed coverage on the SPEED Channel at 7 p.m. American Ethanol 200 coverage begins with The Setup pre-race show at 8 p.m. with the season's ninth race at 8:30. MRN Radio has live coverage, also beginning at 8.
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