While most know Thor as either a Norse god wielding a hammer or as the star of an upcoming movie based on the Marvel Comic Series character from the realm of Asgard, NASCAR Camping World Truck teammates Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter are hoping to put their own brand of ‘Thor’ in their team, ThorSportRacing.
[media-credit name=”Shell Sparrow” align=”alignright” width=”229″][/media-credit]Crafton, behind the wheel of the No. 88 Menards Chevy race truck, is showing his domination of the Truck Series, currently sitting in the points lead. Teammate Sauter, driving the No. 13 Safe Auto/Baker Curb Records Chevy, is not far behind in the fifth position in the point standings.
“Life’s good right now,” Crafton said. “I mean it’s early in the season. But the guys have been bringing great trucks. And we’ve had luck on our side and that’s a huge, huge part of it.”
“It feels good to be noticed and recognized,” Crafton continued. “To be one of the championship contenders is an awesome feeling.”
In Thor-some style, Crafton likens his ascension to the top of the series, as well as his work ethic, to that of his ThorSport team owners Rhonda and Duke Thorson.
“I haven’t always had things handed to me,” Crafton said. “And I’ve had to work really hard all my racing career to get to where I am.”
“Duke and Rhonda Thorson started really small and they’ve made their team better and better every year,” Crafton continued. “Now all of a sudden everyone is looking over their shoulders wondering where they came from but we’ve been here all the time.”
“We’ve grown together as a race team,” Crafton said. “It’s awesome to contend for a championship for them.”
While Crafton is happy with his performance to date in the Truck Series, he still is searching for that first win of the young 2011 Truck season.
“I have not had a win this season,” Crafton said. “And that’s what we strive for each week. But we’ve got to be smart at the same time and be there at the end of the day for all of them.”
“I hate to say we’re points racing but you’re always trying to be smart,” Crafton continued. “It’s even more critical now with the points system to not have those bad races.”
In spite of being winless, Crafton would not trade a win for being on top of the point standings. And he definitely thinks that this will be his version of a ‘Thor’ season.
“Yes, without a doubt, this is the year of Matt Crafton,” Crafton said. “We’re really going to shine.”
While Crafton may think that it his year to be the champion, his teammate Johnny Sauter is hoping to bring his own Thor strength to the competition.
Sauter, who wielded his god-like powers sealing his driveway during the two-week off period, is ready to give his ThorSport teammate a run for the money in the points race.
“It’s the best start to a season in the Truck Series that I’ve ever had, that’s for sure,” Sauter said. “I feel good where we’re at right now.”
When asked if his team, ThorSport Racing, was the up and coming powerhouse in the Truck Series, Sauter was quick to agree with that assessment.
“You almost have to look at it that way,” Sauter said. “Matt’s leading the points right now. Last year we finished third and fourth in points. How can you not?”
“Last year, I had 16 top fives and Matt’s on this insane stretch of top-ten finishes,” Sauter continued. “We’re there every week.”
“The one thing I think me and Matt need to work on and improve, and I speak for both of us, is we need to try to win more races.”
“But as far as being a powerhouse in the Truck Series, ThorSport is there already,” Sauter said. “We’ve just got to get over the hump and get a few more ‘W’s.”
“It’s just not as easy as everyone thinks it is,” Sauter continued. “There’s so many elements that are even out of us as drivers’ control. It takes the whole package.”
According to Sauter, part of that whole package includes the great chemistry between him and his ThorSport teammate Crafton. The teammates, as well as their significant others, are often at each other’s houses, hanging out or having dinner together.
“The difference is the people,” Sauter said. “That’s the secret to Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus. And it makes a difference for us too.”
“I hang out with him more than I have any other teammate,” Sauter said of Crafton. “At the end of the day, don’t get me wrong, we are competitors and we’re racing against each other. But we have a good time.”
Whether teammates or fierce competitors, both Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter hope to show their super-human strength in the Truck Series this year.
“I think ThorSport as a whole is off to the best start ever,” Sauter said. “Who knows, maybe this is the year.”