NASCAR Notebook: Sauter tops rain-delayed Truck practice at Texas
By: By John Sturbin, Special for NASCAR Wire Service, Superior Telegram
FORT WORTH, Texas -- NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitors finally got to hot-lap around Texas Motor Speedway at 8 p.m. CDT, following a lengthy delay that included the jet-drying of a troublesome weeper on the backstretch heading into Turn 3.
Johnny Sauter topped the chart at 29.821 seconds and 181.080 mph in his No. 13 Hot Honey's/Curb Records Toyota Tundra. Matt Crafton was second-quick at 180.911 mph in his No. 88 Menards/Goof Off Toyota. Todd Bodine made it a Toyota sweep at 180.343 mph in his No. 11 Toyota Care Tundra.
Meanwhile, points leader Justin Lofton -- who will start on-pole via owner's points -- was 13th at 178.891 mph in his No. 6 CollegeComplete.com Chevrolet Silverado. Fellow-front row starter Timothy Peters was 12th overall at 179.087 mph in his No. 17 Toyota.
Nelson Piquet Jr. posted the best 10 consecutive lap average at 173.906 mph in his No. 30 Qualcomm/Autotrac Chevy and had the fifth-fastest lap overall at 180.036 mph.
RAIN CANCELS QUALIFYING
Persistent rain prompted NASCAR officials to cancel Keystone Light Pole Qualifying early Thursday afternoon for the WinStar World Casino 400k at Texas Motor Speedway, giving Todd and Janet Bodine time to ramp up their sponsor search.
Justin Lofton, driver of the No. 6 CollegeComplete.com Chevrolet Silverado, will start the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event on-pole here Friday night via 2012 owner points. Timothy Peters, who trails Lofton by one point (235-234), will start alongside in the No. 17 Toyota Tundra, with the remainder of the 35-truck field also set by points.
Four-time series champion Ron Hornaday Jr., driver of the No. 9 SWM/AM/FM Energy Chevrolet, is defending event champion. Hornaday, winless in 2012, will start ninth.
Bodine, winner of last Friday's rain-shortened Lucas Oil 200 at Dover International Speedway, will roll off seventh in a bid to add to his record six series victories on TMS' 1.5-mile quadoval.
"I love Texas," said Bodine, a two-time series champion and driver of the No. 11 Toyota Care Tundra fielded by Red Horse Racing. "I've been fortunate to have a lot of very good race trucks here and you've got to have luck to go with all of that. Got a lot of cowboy hats (that go to the winner) and look forward to getting another one."
Another victory by "The Onion" would give team-owner Tom DeLoach added ammunition in his search to put a corporate backer on the refrigerator-white No. 11. "We didn't have a sponsor last week," said Bodine, who has an average finish of 8.5 in 15 series starts at TMS. "We had Toyota Care on the quarter panels and that was kind of a ‘thank you' for Toyota. They didn't actually pay for the race, but Toyota is so good to us and they did support us for four races.
"It's kind of the same deal here. We don't have a sponsor for this race; Tom's doing it out of the goodness of his heart and his pocket. We've got a lot of really good things happening. My wife, Janet, is working really hard on getting a sponsorship, and she's actually having some success. The win definitely helps. There's three different corporations we're talking to, and they all three called up and said, ‘Man, we wish we were on (the truck) last week.' I can't speak for Tom saying we're going to continue without sponsorship, but I think Tom knows this is a great opportunity for this race team, not only for right now but also for the future."
RHR parked the No. 7 Toyota of Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender John King, winner of the season opener at Daytona International Speedway, on May 29 because of a lack of funding. "That really hurt Tom, to not be able to do that," Bodine said. "All I can say is stay tuned. We've got a lot of great things happening at Red Horse Racing."
LOFTON'S CONFIDENCE SOARING
Lofton said Bodine deserves some credit for his victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway -- Speedway Motorsports Inc. sister 1.5-mile track to TMS -- on May 18.
"It's one of those places I probably didn't think I was going to get my first win at," Lofton said. "But I went over and spent some time with Todd on Wednesday night before the race, and he kept pointing at my head the entire time we were sitting at dinner. I think he was trying to tell me to use my head a little bit. We did just that. We had a very fast truck from the minute we unloaded it to the last lap on the racetrack."
Lofton started 16th and finished 10th at Dover's "Monster Mile," where he led 22 laps in the truck fielded by Eddie Sharp Racing.
"It (the win) took a lot of pressure off myself and the team so now let's go to work and run consistent every weekend," said Lofton, who posted a pair of 10th-place finishes in the spring/fall NCWTS events last year at TMS. "We know we have the equipment, we know we have the camaraderie in the shop among the guys. It made going into Dover really exciting, and then to be able to have a truck as good as we did at Dover kind of secured this wasn't a fluke deal. We have the same truck (at TMS) we had at Charlotte and hopefully we can pull another really good finish off, and leave here the point-leader, too."
DON'T MESS WITH THIS TEXAN
Native Texan David Starr believes former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch of Phoenix Racing got off lightly this week, when NASCAR suspended him for a verbal confrontation with a reporter after Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Dover. Busch, who drives for brother Kyle's first-year Nationwide team, will sit out Sunday's Cup race at Pocono International Raceway.
"Without the media, you don't really have a sport," said Starr, driver of the No. 81 Build Your Future/Zachry Toyota owned by Billy Ballew. "Yeah, there's reporters out there that ask pretty off-the-wall questions. I understand that. But man, they're just here to give the public a story. And without you guys (media) talking about us we wouldn't have those sponsors.
"Some of the stuff the Busch brothers (Kurt and Kyle) do, where I'm from (Houston), we kind of self-police that. We take care of itself. I think if a little bit of the people he's having these altercations with, if they were from where I was from, we'd handle it right then and there and I don't think you would have any more problems -- if you can understand what I'm saying. I was raised you got a problem with somebody, go ahead and handle it and let's move on. I don't know where he's from. Obviously nobody's taken care of it.
"It's a shame it needs to come to that. What a great competitor, and a good friend of mine. It's a shame he don't know how to keep his mouth shut, you know? And the problem is, he's going to run his mouth to the wrong people, wrong person -- and the consequences are going to be a lot worse than him just missing one race. Know what I'm saying?"