Johnny Sauter, driver of the No. 98 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Toyota Tundra, showed promise for a strong run in Friday's Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway. Starting from the 16th position, the ThorSport Racing driver worked his way inside the top-10 by lap 15, complaining of a Toyota Tundra that was, "a little free" early in the run, and "snug" as the run progressed. Crew chief Doug George would bring the No. 98 machine to pit road, under caution, at lap 40, for two tires, including an air pressure adjustment, and fuel. The two-tire stop would allow Sauter to gain valuable track position and restart from the fifth position at lap 44.
Running competitively inside the top-five, Sauter worked his way into the fourth position by lap 98, although his SmokeySnuff.com Tundra was, "too tight on exit." George brought the No. 98 machine to pit road, for their final stop of the night, for four tires, fuel, and a chassis adjustment under the lap 105 caution for an accident in Turn 3.
Restarting third, with just over 40 laps remaining, Sauter was poised to contend with the leaders for the top spot in the final laps. Unfortunately, Sauter's ThorSport Racing teammate, Matt Crafton, would get loose in front of the No. 98, exiting Turn 4 at lap 120 of 150, ultimately making contact with his Toyota Tundra, causing extensive damage. Sauter was forced to retire 30 laps early from the 21st annual event, and was relegated to a 25th-place finish behind race winner, Timothy Peters.
With only one race remaining on the 2015 NCWTS schedule, Sauter is fourth in the championship point standings.
"He (Matt Crafton) was just racing the 4 (Erik Jones). I think he got loose, and spun out. When he came across the race track, I had nowhere to go. What do you do, it's racing."