Sauter Is Fastest In Daytona Truck Series Practice


Johnny Sauter, seen here in 2023 at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway, was fastest in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series practice Thursday at Daytona Int'l Speedway. (Nigel Kinrade Photography)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – He may not be a full-time driver anymore in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, but Johnny Sauter hasn’t forgotten how to get around Daytona Int’l Speedway.

Driving for Niece Motorsports in a one-race deal, Sauter was best among a field of 39 trucks that took time Thursday in the lone practice session for the season-opening Fresh From Florida 250.

Sauter, the 2016 Truck Series champion and a three-time winner at the World Center of Racing, toured the 2.5-mile high banks in 47.258 seconds (190.444 mph) with the No. 45 IEDA Chevrolet Silverado, ranking fastest in single-lap speed.

He’ll chase his fourth career Daytona Truck Series victory Friday night, which would further extend his series-best mark at the most historic track on the NASCAR calendar.

“The secret to winning here is no different than winning anywhere else; you just have to have a good team,” tipped Sauter after his drafting run in practice. “Obviously, Niece [Motorsports] has good equipment, and I can’t thank those guys enough for giving me the opportunity to come down here and take another go at this place. Having a fast truck is the name of the game, so the goal is to make sure we get a Chevy in victory lane and we’re off to a good start in that objective.

“These guys know what’s up. They win a lot of races and run up front, so we just have to go out there, run smart, and try to make sure we’re there at the end of it to give ourselves a shot [at the win],” Sauter added. “There’s nothing like winning at Daytona … and hopefully we can go out and do just that again tomorrow night.”

Tanner Gray was second fastest (47.285/190.335) in a TRICON Garage-prepared Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, followed by Ty Dillon (47.310/190.235) in his first drive in the Rackley WAR Chevrolet Silverado.

McAnally-Hilgemann Racing teammates Daniel Dye (47.362/190.026) and Christian Eckes (47.367/190.006) were fourth and fifth, respectively, followed by Matt Mills, Dean Thompson, Lawless Alan, Bayley Currey, and Bryan Dauzat.

Defending Truck Series champion Ben Rhodes was 29th on the speed charts for ThorSport Racing Thursday.

Qualifying for the Fresh From Florida 250 is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. ET Friday, with live coverage on FS1.

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.