|This article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2013)|
|Series||Camping World Truck Series
ARCA Racing Series
|Race drivers||13. Jeb Burton
88. Matt Crafton
98. Johnny Sauter
98. Nextant Aerospace/The Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records
|Debut||1996 Sears Auto Center 200 (Milwaukee)|
|Latest race||2014 UNOH 200 (Bristol)|
|Drivers' Championships||2 (1 NASCAR, 1 ARCA)|
ThorSport Racing is a Sandusky, Ohio based NASCAR racing team that competes in the Camping World Truck Series. Owned by Duke Thorson and his wife Rhonda, the team currently fields the #13 Estes Express Lines Toyota Tundra driven by Jeb Burton, the #88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by Matt Crafton, and the #98 The Carolina Nut Co./Curb Records Toyota driven by Johnny Sauter.
Camping World Truck Series
Truck #13 history
The #13 truck began racing in 2004, with Tina Gordon driving with sponsorship from Vassarette and Microtel. After five races, she left the team due to injuries she suffered at Atlanta, and Lance Hooper and Paul White shared the ride for the next several races. After several lackluster results, Jimmy Spencer drove at Loudon, finishing eighteenth, before Jason Small and Andy Houston finished out the season in the truck. For 2005, Tracy Hines drove the truck and had a fifth-place finish at Richmond International Raceway with sponsorship from David Zoriki Motorsports. He was released with two races to go, and Chad Chaffin and Johnny Sauter filled out the schedule in his place.
Kerry Earnhardt drove for ThorSport Racing during the 2006 season, his best finish being 11th which he recorded twice, at Nashville and Las Vegas. He was not retained for 2007 and rookie Willie Allen was signed to replace him. He had two top-tens and won Rookie of the Year, but was replaced at the end of the year by USAR Hooters Pro Cup driver Shelby Howard. Howard had two top-tens as well in the BobCat Company/FarmPaint.com Chevy, but finished seventeenth in points, and was released. Sauter returned to the team for the 2009 season full-time with sponsorship from Fun Sand. The team now runs through a partnership with Mike Curb. Sauter took ThorSport's third win as a team at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and giving ThorSport its first ever 1-2 finish, with Crafton in second. Sauter would finish 6th in points at the end of the year. In 2010, Sauter took home his second win at Kansas after late contact with Ron Hornaday. Sauter would eventually finish 3rd in points to Todd Bodine. For 2011 the team gained sponsorship from Safe Auto Insurance Company. Sauter would score wins at Martinsville and Homestead, finishing second in points to Austin Dillon. Safe Auto left the team, being replaced by The Peanut Roaster in 2012. Sauter's season was beset by bad luck, but improved performance late in the season, as well as sweeping the races at Texas, lifted Sauter to 9th in points. Todd Bodine took over as driver for the 2013 season placing 11th at Daytona International Speedway, with Mattei Air Compressors as the truck's new primary sponsor. However, Frank Kimmel took over the #13 at the season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
In 2014, Jeb Burton was hired to drive the #13. Initially running on a race-by-race basis pending sponsorship, Burton's ride was upgraded to the full season when Estes Express Lines signed a deal with the team.
Truck #88 history
The #88 truck was the first out of the ThorSport stable. Debuting in the 1996 season at the Milwaukee Mile, Terry Cook finished 12th in the race for the team, which was then known as Sealmaster Racing. He ran two additional races in the truck that season, but did not finish better than 21st. Cook drove a limited schedule with the team in 1997 in the PBA Tour Chevy. Despite not finishing in the top-ten, Cook won his first career pole at Flemington Speedway, and finished 24th in the final standings. The team received enough funding to compete full-time in 1998, and Cook won his first career race at Flemington, but only improved to a twentieth-place points finish.
ThorSport began the 1999 without primary sponsorship before Big Daddy's BBQ Sauce joined the operation late in the season, allowing Cook to finish 15th in points. In 2000, PickupTruck.com became the team's new sponsor, and Cook had a total of eight top-ten finishes, but was replaced in the final event of the season by Matt Crafton, who finished ninth. Fast Master Driveway Sealer and XE Sighting System shared sponsorship duties for Crafton, who picked up eleven top-tens and finished 12th in points in his rookie season. Despite Menards becoming a full-time sponsor in 2002, Crafton only had six top-tens and dropped to fifteenth in the standings, but improved to eleventh the following year. For the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Buddy Rice was placed in the 88 truck 20th.
In 2004, rookie Tracy Hines became the team's new driver, and he posted three top-ten finishes and finished eighteenth in points. Crafton returned to the 88 for 2005, winning his first career pole at New Hampshire International Speedway and finishing ninth in points, a team-best. He slipped to fourteenth in points in 2006 despite ten top-tens, and repeated his top-ten total in 2007, moving up to eighth in points. 2008 was the team's best year to that point, with Crafton scoring his first win at Charlotte and finishing fifth in points. Despite not winning the next year, the #88 team finished runner-up in points to Ron Hornaday.
Crafton had another strong season in 2010, earning one pole at Texas Motor Speedway, 10 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes, resulting in a season-ending rank of fourth.
2011 saw the second win of Crafton's career at Iowa Speedway, in addition to poles at Michigan International Speedway and Martinsville Speedway, where he broke the track qualifying record. However, four DNFs (Did Not Finish) due to engine failures, mechanical issues and accidents caused by other competitors led to only five top fives and 13 top 10s, ultimately relegating Crafton to eighth in the final standings. In 2012, he had a decent season, finishing 6th in points.
2013 was Crafton's best season in his career to date. He won his third career race at Kansas in April. After this win, Crafton picked up the points lead and held it for the rest of the season. He finished in the top ten in the first sixteen races of the season, and 19 overall, with a worst finish of 21st in the season finale at Homestead. He clinched his first Truck Series championship with his start in that race, and was able to stay on the lead lap despite late crash damage to become the first driver to complete every lap of the season in the Truck Series.
Truck #98 history
ThorSport first fielded the 98 truck at the 2002 Chevy Silverado 150 for Cory Kruseman with Agromin sponsoring. He finished 31st after suffering engine failure. The next race came a year later at the season-ending Ford 200 with Crafton driving, with sponsorship from Enzyme Magic as a sister truck to the 88 that he normally drove, finishing fifteenth. The 98 did not appear for six years until the 2009 Heluva Good! 200 at New Hampshire with Michael McDowell driving. He finished fourteenth in the Perkins Police truck. It ran another race later in the season at Texas with David Gilliland, but finished 35th after suffering rear end problems early into the race.
In 2010, the 98 ran at Daytona with Landon Cassill and EasytoInstall.com, but wrecked early in the race. The 98 returned in 2011 with Penske development driver Dakoda Armstrong behind the wheel with sponsorship from Ferrellgas and Agrisure for 7 races. Armstrong later joined ThorSport for the 2012 season to make a run at Rookie of the Year. However, the team's EverFi sponsorship would only last for the first 14 races, forcing the team to release Armstrong before the fall race at Iowa and shut the team down.
The 98 returned for 2013 with Johnny Sauter swapping numbers. The team took back to back wins at Daytona and Martinsville, but suffered a setback when crew chief Joe Shear, Jr. was handed a suspension from NASCAR due to a fuel cell issue. Despite Shear's return at Iowa, he would later resign from ThorSport after the Eldora race, citing disagreements over the team being based in Ohio rather than North Carolina. Sauter would nonetheless win his third race of 2013 at Talladega, sweeping the restrictor plate events in the Truck Series.
ARCA Racing Series
In 2012, nine-time ARCA Racing Series champion Frank Kimmel joined the team in the #44. In 2013, Kimmel became the leader in all-time wins in ARCA history with 80, en route to his tenth championship. Kimmel left the team for Win-Tron Racing after the season.
- "Frank Kimmel To Drive With Thorsport In Season Finale". Tireball. November 6, 2013. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
- "Jeb Burton lands ride for Daytona with ThorSport". The Charlotte Observer. February 6, 2014. Retrieved February 7, 2014.
- "Jeb Burton's ThorSport Ride Now Full Time". NASCAR.com. May 27, 2014. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
- Olson, Jeff (November 15, 2013). "With Homestead start, Matt Crafton clinches Trucks title". USA Today. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
- "Matt Crafton Wins NASCAR Truck Series Championship". ESPN. November 15, 2013. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
- "Frank Kimmel Joins ThorSport". National Speed Sport News. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
- Kerchner, Mike (December 22, 2013). "Short-Track Roundup: ARCA champion Frank Kimmel changing teams". Autoweek. Retrieved March 10, 2014.