It was a solid night for ThorSport Racing as they placed three trucks in the top five at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Pole-sitter Johnny Sauter was second, Matt Crafton fourth and birthday boy Ben Rhodes was fifth.
Sauter qualified on the NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series pole for the first time since Texas of 2018. The Wisconsin native had a strong showing early before falling back late in the race. Sauter was able to finish third in the first stage and 10th in the second stage to earn some playoff bonus points. He was also able to lead seven laps in Stage 1. While those were the only laps he led, Sauter was able to get back in the mix late in the going and challenged Kyle Busch for a little while.
As the laps were winding down, Sauter was trying different lines to catch the eventual race winner Busch, but failed to do so and wound up second.
“We had a great truck in practice today, obviously qualified well,” Sauter told MRN Radio. “When the green flag dropped, I thought, man this thing is a rocket and then we just went loose, sideways loose. We made a lengthy pit stop there. Nothing you could do. We had to pull spring rubbers and make adjustments, so we lost a lot of track position and got a lot of it back, and I couldn’t get going on restarts tonight. Last year, I was great, but this year, I was spinning the tires. I guess we got to go somewhere in between that.”
“Just proud of Joe (Shear Jr., Crew Chief) and all of these guys. I thought I had something for Kyle there and I was squeezing in on them there and kept running the third grove down there and he moved up there and took my line away. Then we got tight for a little bit and ended up loose again. So, I’m not exactly sure (what happened). All in all, a good effort from what I thought we were going to have tonight and we came a long way.”
For Crafton, it was all about tire management. He was running third just a few laps before the finish. However, he was passed by Austin Hill and that relegated Crafton to fourth.
“We had a lot of tire wear tonight,” Crafton said to MRN Radio. “We were really free all night and just had to tire manage. It was actually a lot of fun. I kind of fell back on restarts, but I was like man, every time I went hard on the restart, it just killed the left-rear tire and then I got really free. Not a great run, but a decent run for this Menards Ford F-150.”
Rhodes came home with a quiet fifth-place finish. Rhodes was somewhat satisfied with the finish considering the handling issues he experienced during the race.
“I guess so,” Rhodes said to MRN Radio about the finish. “Considering the day we had, we struggled and we have to get better on a lot of things. We came in and lost spots on every single stop and we were on the splitter the whole race. I couldn’t really go until four laps until the end of the stage. It took me 30 laps for the tires to come up and barely getting it off the splitter, and then at the end, it never even came off of it. I just felt like I had my hands tied behind my back the whole race and wasn’t able to show what we had.”
“Every time we would make up ground, we would lose it again. It’s just a really hard-fought fifth-place finish for our Carolina Nut Ford F-150. I wish it wasn’t this hard-fought. We worked pretty hard on the birthday here but for as hard as we worked, I wished we would have had a first-place finish. Some nights you have finishes like this and struggles like this. Just as a whole, we need to get better as a team and I think if we do that, we capitalize on these mistakes and we’ll be up there competing for wins with no problem.”
The other ThorSport contender Grant Enfinger was involved in a wreck on Lap 89, which took him out of the race and he had to settle for a 31st place finish.