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Sauter Bags First Trucks Pole

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, June 4 2009
Johnny Sauter on Camping World pole. (Photo by Darrell Ingham/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

Johnny Sauter on Camping World pole. (Photo by Darrell Ingham/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Fort Worth, Texas – Johnny Sauter will celebrate his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series pole Friday morning with his grandmother, and a little yard work, sonny.

Sauter bagged his first Truck Series pole in his 19th attempt Thursday evening during qualifying for the Winstar World Casino 400 at Texas Motor Speedway. Sauter toured TMS’ 1.5-mile quadoval in 30.086 seconds/179.485 mph, and promptly dedicated the hot lap to his granny over in Dallas.

“Her name is Elva Tone, and she’s about 90,” said Sauter, driver of the No. 13 Fun Sand/Curb/StarDeAzlan Chevrolet. “We went over to her house when I got here and I had to ask her how old she was. She said, ‘You’re not supposed to ask me that!’ But I am supposed to go over there Friday morning and cut some ivy down. Got to work. And I get to go over there and hang out.

“I need to win this race for her. She’s lived here for 46 years. This will be the first time she won’t be able to come out here.”

When granny tunes into the race at 8 p.m., CDT, she will see Sauter starting alongside series points-leader Ron Hornaday Jr., who hot-lapped at 30.178 seconds/178.938 mph.

“It’s our best starting spot here,” said Hornaday, driver of the No. 33 Longhorn Chevrolet. “I’m pretty proud.” Hornaday started third when he won the Sam’s Town 400 last June 6, and qualified seventh when he won the Silverado 350k here on Oct. 31. In so doing, Hornaday became the second Truck Series driver in TMS history to sweep the season’s events. Hornaday joined Brendan Gaughan, who accomplished the feat in 2003.

Asked about his chances of winning three in a row, Hornaday said, “I really don’t know. The way the Truck Series is…if I come out of here with a top-five I’ll be happy. We got a pretty good chance.”

While Thursday’s pole was Sauter’s first in this series, he has earned four poles in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series. In his only previous Truck Series start at TMS, Sauter qualified 33rd and finished 11th in 2005. Sauter said he and crew chief Jason Overstreet bottomed-out at Atlanta Motor Speedway in early March, when he finished 18th – and two laps down to winner Kyle Busch.

“We went to Atlanta and got totally embarrassed, lapped twice in 130-lap truck race,” Sauter said. “We’ve been working hard to get something that’s comfortable to me. We brought the same truck from Dover (started fourth/finished fifth last weekend) and it was super-fast. I’ve come here before and struggled, it’s like you can’t drive a truck on a mile-and-a-half. But this is the easiest truck I ever drove.

“This is a big deal for me and all the guys on the No. 13 truck. It’s their first pole. Now all we’ve got to do is close the deal. I know we have a shot.”

– John Sturbin can be reached at jsturbin@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, June 4 2009
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