When the green flag drops Friday night, you can be assured that ThorSport Racing will be in the thick of the battle as they have so far this year.
While most say that you need to be centered into the hub of NASCAR in Charlotte, ThorSport Racing has done things differently as they’re based in Sandusky, Ohio. As the team says, they are coming from the “Ice Palace” (as dubbed by Krista Voda) to take on the “Queen Palace”.
[media-credit name=”mattcrafton.com” align=”alignright” width=”290″][/media-credit]”They aren’t new questions, I’ve heard them my whole career at ThorSport Racing and we’ve never really given it a second thought,” Matt Crafton said in the team preview. “We’ve heard things like, ‘You have to be in Charlotte to be successful.’ ‘There are no equipment suppliers or people in Ohio.’ ‘What about the wind tunnel or technology?’ ‘How can you win a championship from somewhere other than the heart of racing?’ All valid questions, but all questions we’ve either answered or solved in a really humble way – quietly – through great people, partners, technology and track performance over the last few years as we’ve hit our stride.”
Currently, Matt Crafton leads the point standings and goes into Charlotte looking to get his second win. With two top-fives and seven top-10s there in the past including a win in 2008, he is looking for more success.
“With all due respect, I love Charlotte,” Crafton continued. “This is my adopted city, after being from California and driving for a team from Sandusky. We have so much momentum this year, coming off a great season last year – my teammate, Johnny Sauter, and I being third and fourth in points; me winning at Charlotte in 2008; and doing pretty well the first six races this year. Many of our extended families and friends live here, and it’s a place to pay homage to our racing forefathers, just as Daytona is for all of us racers.”
Charlotte also marks the welcoming of a new name aboard the hood as Mullican Great Lakes Flooring will adore the hood of the No. 88 Menards Chevrolet.
“I’m looking forward to this race and having Great Lakes by Mullican on the hood,” he said. “I spent two extra days in Sandusky with my guys after racing Toledo on Sunday in the ARCA Racing Series. It gave us a chance to connect over the Charlotte truck, and it also gave us the mental gains to prepare for this week. Every week is a big race week, but our 1.5-mile program is dominant this year. I’d like to come back and really see if we can get this truck in Victory Lane again.”
Meanwhile, Johnny Sauter is looking to have success also so he can jump back up in the lead as he currently sits second in points.
“Being at the top of the points this early in the season was a positive surprise to me, and it was a great feeling after Nashville,” Sauter said. “It’s a lot of pressure though, when we have so many races ahead of us. Charlotte has always been a track that has challenged me, and our 1.5-mile program is really stellar this year. That’s got to be my focus with (crew chief) Joe (Shear, Jr.) and my guys. Perform on all fronts – from the truck setup to the pit cycles and fuel management. I said it at the end of Dover and I meant it, with me and Joe it’s back to basics and some tried-and-true setups we used last year for great finishes.”
Sauter likes being in the backseat behind Crafton as somewhat “underdog” though as he says it presents an opportunity for success.
“The best finishes I’ve ever had, all my wins, were coming back from behind or scraping to the top all the way,” he said. “That’s how I love to race. So the pressure is off right now, and I can get back to being the underdog. There’s nothing this team can’t do this year with the right focus, and we’re proving that every race. Charlotte is no different – we’re proving to the racing world exactly how consistent we can be at these tracks, using a lot of communication and strategy. ThorSport Racing is building championship-consistency teams this year, and we’re going to show that at the racetrack.”
ThorSport Racing looks to continue their success not only this coming weekend, but down the road in the future. In August, the team plans to continue expanding as they will be opening a new shop, keeping things based in Sandusky.
“ThorSport Racing opens a brand new, 100,000-sq. ft. race facility in Sandusky in August, though, and it’s a source of huge pride in where we’ve come from and to in ten years,” Crafton said. “We can’t wait to celebrate with our Ohio family and NASCAR fans everywhere. This continues to be a great year. But we’d like to prove, in a subtle, humble way of sorts – that you don’t necessarily have to live and work here as a team, to be successful & win championships in this business.”