ThorSport kicks off 2014 with Daytona test

ThorSport kicks off 2014 with Daytona test Getty Images

ThorSport Racing, which in 2013 had a breakout season with championships in two national stock car series, will open the 2014 campaign next week with a two-day NASCAR Camping World Truck Series test at Daytona International Speedway, led by veterans Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter.

ThorSport, which won the 2013 NCWTS drivers' championship with Crafton and the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards championship, will test its 2014 Toyota Tundras Monday and Tuesday on the 2.5-mile Daytona trioval with sessions running from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. ET each day.

Crafton will test a 2014-spec version of the No. 88 Menards Tundra with which he finished ninth last year at Daytona. It was the first of 16 consecutive top-10 finishes he opened his and ThorSport's first NASCAR national series championship season with.

Sauter will have the rebodied No. 98 Nextant Aerospace / Curb Records Tundra with which he won the 2013 season opener. A year ago Sauter followed that up with a NASCAR record-tying second consecutive win to open the season, on the Martinsville Speedway short track.

At the test Sauter will work with new crew chief Gene Wachtel, an engineer and motorsports veteran with Sprint Cup and Truck Series experience, for the first time at a racetrack. Wachtel began working with ThorSport at the end of 2013.

"We're real happy with the way our 2014 Toyota Tundras turned out and we're looking forward to getting them out on the racetrack to see how this new body configuration performs," ThorSport team manager David Pepper said. "Matt has made no secret of how fired-up he is to get going on defending his championship and giving Johnny a chance to work with Gene at a racetrack is equally important."

Crafton got a head start on Daytona testing when he stood-in for a full day Friday for Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Paul Menard, who was unable to attend the Daytona test. Crafton -- whose trucks, like Paul Menard's cars, are sponsored by the Menards Midwest home-improvement store chain -- reportedly had the third-best speed in both single-car runs and drafting.

At Daytona, where trucks will test for the first time since 2008, the vehicles will have a completely different front-end body package, including hood, fenders, nose and "splitter" configurations plus a different radiator and cooling duct arrangement. The 2014 trucks will also have new tail panels.

For ThorSport, former three-time champion crew chief Dennis Connor, who played an integral role in the second half of last season as Sauter's crew chief on the No. 98 team, earning eight top-10 finishes in the last 10 races, including a win at Talladega and two seconds on the way to fourth in the championship, will be at the test coordinating the trucks' activities.

Live timing and scoring for the scheduled four test sessions over the two days, with a daily lunch break scheduled from 12-1 p.m. ET, will be available at www.nascar.com. Updates will also be available on Twitter (@ThorSportRacing) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/ThorSportRacing).

Thorsport PR

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Steven B. Wilson

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