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Crafton, Sauter to return to ThorSport Racing

November 14, 2013, Staff report, NASCAR.com

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Crafton back for 2014; Sauter signs multiyear extension

On the verge of seeing one of its drivers capture the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship, ThorSport Racing announced a pair of moves on Thursday that ensures its future is as secure as its present.

Matt Crafton, who needs only to start Friday's finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway to clinch the 2013 title, will return to the No. 88 Toyota next year after ThorSport Racing and primary sponsor Menards renewed their agreement.

Crafton's teammate, Johnny Sauter, will return to the team as well after agreeing to a multiyear contract extension to remain in the No. 98.

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Crafton, 37, holds a 46-point lead on second-place Ty Dillon with one race to go. This year, he won in Kansas and has seven top-fives and 19 top-10s in 21 starts. His best career season finish is second place, which he earned in 2009, the year Ron Hornaday Jr. won his fourth series title.

Crafton also owns the series record for consecutive starts (currently at 315, a streak that started in 2000) and will mark his 10th consecutive year driving the No. 88 for ThorSport when the 2014 season begins at Daytona.

"Matt's consistency and competitiveness at a very high level epitomizes what ThorSport is all about," team owner Duke Thorson said. "We're pleased to keep Matt and Menards together moving into the future and look forward to their continued success."

Sauter's extension means the 35-year-old will stick with the only team he's driven for in his five-year full-time Truck Series stint. He has nine victories during that span, including three this year.

In fact, Sauter won the first two races of the season at Daytona and Martinsville and led the series standings for the first three races. He's currently fourth, 77 points behind leader and teammate Crafton.

In Friday's Ford EcoBoost 200, he'll debut a new paint scheme with new sponsor Nextant Aerospace.

"I'm excited to have the opportunity to extend my time with ThorSport Racing," Sauter said. "It's a great organization and it's been a perfect fit for me. And with Nextant Aerospace joining our program -- and looking ahead to two years of racing for wins and championships with them, Carolina Nut and Curb Records -- needless to say, the sky's the limit."

Sauter has 48 top-fives and 70 top-10s in 129 Truck Series starts. He's also made 83 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts (with one top-five) and 202 starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

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