Johnny Sauter enters the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 this weekend at Martinsville Speedway with a big reason to be happy. Not only did Sauter win Martinsville’s spring race and last Saturday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway; he also is celebrating this week’s signing of a new sponsor to a two-year deal.
It was announced on Monday that Nextant Aerospace, based in Cleveland, Ohio, had signed with ThorSport Racing to sponsor Sauter’s No. 98 Toyota in 12 events in each of the next two years. Knowing he has solid, future support, Sauter can focus on defending his spring victory at Martinsville.
Sauter’s three wins this season are a series best among points-eligible drivers – one behind series leader Kyle Busch who isn’t entered this week. Sauter opened the year with consecutive victories but hit a rough patch at mid-season finishing outside the top 10 in five straight races. He enters this weekend with top-10 showings in five out of the past six starts and ranked sixth in points, four markers out of a provisional seat at next month’s championship awards banquet in Miami Beach.
Talladega’s victory marked the 27th series win for Sauter’s crew chief Dennis Connor, tying him for second all-time with Eric Phillips. Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Rick Ren is the all-time crew chief leader with 28.
Sauter also can join some elite company by becoming the 14th NCWTS driver with 10 or more wins. A victory this weekend would tie him with 2004 series champion Bobby Hamilton for 13th in the all-time standings.