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Thorsport unveils new trucks

Michael Truax • Feb 4, 2011 at 7:22 AM

Matt Crafton hates the winter.

Not necessarily the snow, but the time away from the track.

"The winters are brutal, but one of the things that helps is going out to the desert and at least doing some kind of tests (in the trucks)," he said. "I've been dying waiting to get back in the race truck, and I'm looking forward to 2011."

Crafton, racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Sandusky-based ThorSport, will build on a finish to 2010 that was strong, consistent and lucky -- or, at least, not unlucky.

He started the season with misfortune: Between wrecks and blown engines, he finished later than 18th four times, later than 25th three times.

"There was nothing (technical) that we were running that bad," he said, "But we'd finish there with a wreck or a blown motor or something like that."

But Crafton, racing in ThorSport's No. 88, sponsored by Menards and SealBest, put together a strong finish to the season, with Truck Series-best 16 consecutive top-10 finishes, nine in the top five.

Crafton and his ThorSport teammate, Johnny Sauter will see if they can match or improve on their finishes in 2010, as they finished fourth and third in the final points standings, respectively.

Crafton and Sauter were in Sandusky Thursday to unveil their new Trucks, tuned for 2011 with new engines from Earnhardt-Childress Racing, replacing powerplants from Pro Motor Engines.

Sauter also unveiled a new hood sponsor for the season, Safe Auto and a new gray base with black numbering for his No. 13 Chevy.

"People with heart will go a lot farther than just people in numbers," Sauter said. "I think we've got the right people here, and that makes a big difference -- That's what keeps you competitive."

Sauter spent time in the offseason in Sandusky, working with the No. 13 team, hanging out and staying in shape.

"(Staying in shape) makes the biggest impact is probably from June to September, the hot summer months, but in the Truck Series, the races are a little bit shorter so it doesn't seem to be that big of an issue versus the longer races in the other divisions," he said. "But it's all part of it. If it only helps one percent, it helps."

Sauter and Crafton finished behind CWTS champion Todd Bodine and Aric Amirola.

"As far as points are concerned, they'll take care of themselves if you do that."

But, together, the ThorSport team only collected one victory in 2010. In 247 career starts, Crafton has only one checkered flag (Charlotte, 2008). With that, however, he has 129 top-10 finishes.

"(The No. 88 team's) main goal is really simple, we want to win," Crafton said. "That's the only thing we've been missing over the past two years. We've had poles. We've had a ton of top-fives and top-tens. We've been right up there in the points for the last three years. But we've only had that one win (Charlotte, 2008). We've been so close so many times it hurts to think about it. Our goal is to get back to victory lane."

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