Originally written on Race Review Online  |  Last updated 7/12/12

 

Peters On Top, But Challenge Is To Stay There

Timothy Peters rolls into Iowa Speedway for Saturday night’s American Ethanol 200 as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings leader. His challenge: Stay on top.

Peters and his No. 17 Red Horse Racing team haven’t shown their best stuff at the 0.875-mile oval. He has one top-10 finish, eighth in 2009. Last year he was 11th following a 21st-place run in 2010.

Should Peters slip, three rivals are close enough to pounce. Justin Lofton, who lost the top spot to Peters last month at Kentucky Speedway, and top Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Ty Dillon trail by four points. Kentucky winner James Buescher is nine points back in fourth.

Like most NCWTS competitors, Peters got his start on short tracks and welcomes the rough-and-tumble racing they produce.

He calls Iowa Speedway unique – a short track with a superspeedway feel. Racing is frequently side-by-side for multiple laps before a position is decided.

“I'm always a fan of short tracks when I go back. It's where I started racing and always provides a really good show," Peters said.

Peters’ teammate, two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck champion Todd Bodine, will be making his 199th series start in a run-up to July 21 at Chicagoland Speedway, where he’ll become the first driver to make 200 starts in each of NASCAR’s three national series.

Iowa Great Place To Continue ThorSport Turnaround

Beware the team with nothing to lose and everything to gain.

That in a nutshell sums up ThorSport Racing and its trio of drivers, Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter and Dakoda Armstrong. Call it snake-bit, rookie blues or whatever but none of the three got off to decent starts and have plenty of ground to make up in the 2012 season’s second half.

Sauter got the turnaround rolling last month with a victory at Texas Motor Speedway. Crafton followed with a solid, fourth-place finish off a Keystone Light Pole performance two weeks ago in Kentucky. Armstrong, a Sunoco rookie, finished 13th at Kentucky to match his season-high and has finished on the lead lap in his past two starts.

Crafton will be tough at Iowa, where he is the defending winner. He won a thrilling duel with champion-to-be Austin Dillon, who came within a third of a second from successfully backing up his 2010 Iowa victory – his first in the series.

Sauter’s done everything at Iowa Speedway but win. He’s the only driver to finish among the top five in all three previous races. Sauter was fourth a year ago and second in 2010.

Armstrong made his debut at Iowa Speedway in 2009 and finished 21st. He hails from a farming family in New Castle, Ind., whose 8,000 acres produces the yellow No. 2 corn that eventually is shipped to plants to make ethanol. Sunoco’s gasoline/ethanol fuel blend powers all entries in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as well as in NASCAR’s other national divisions.

Three Iowa Winners Have Little In Common

Iowa Speedway. Three races; three winners; three second-place finishers.

Only one could be considered a runaway, at least in NCWTS terms. Inaugural champion Mike Skinner beat now-NSCS driver Aric Almirola by 1.370 seconds in 2009. Austin Dillon edged Johnny Sauter by 0.635 seconds the next year with Matt Crafton the winner by 0.337 seconds a year ago over Dillon.

There’s no common thread to the three winners. Skinner was 52 years old, a Daytona 500 pole winner and veteran of more than 500 national series races. Dillon was just 20 – and making his 12th NCWTS appearance.

Crafton falls somewhere in between. The 36-year-old Tulare, Calif., native, a NASCAR Camping World Truck “lifer,” is closing in on his 300th start. His Iowa victory was only his second in 11 full seasons in the series.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Etc.

Ty Dillon won last year’s Iowa Series ARCA event, a race that shares the billing with the American Ethanol 200. He also has a second-place finish in the track’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race. … Natalie Sather, who failed to qualify earlier this year at Martinsville Speedway, will attempt to make her series debut in Iowa. She is a former sprint car and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series late model competitor. … Joe Denette Motorsports and Max Gresham have ended their relationship. The team’s No. 24 Chevrolet ranks 23rd in owner points. Gresham, a Sunoco rookie contender, is 20th in driver standings.

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