NASCAR Truck Series

Johnny Sauter wins Truck Series season-opening pole, his first at Daytona

3 Mins read
Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Johnny Sauter will kick off the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season by leading the field to green. He won the pole for the NextEra Energy 250 at Daytona International Speedway after setting a qualifying time of 49.733 seconds at 180.966 mph earlier on Friday. It is his ninth career pole in the series and first on a superspeedway.

The pole marks a strong start to 2021 for Sauter and his ThorSport Racing team, who returned to using Toyota trucks after three years with Ford. Toyotas dominated the series’ only practice on Thursday as they occupied all but one of the top ten spots on the chart; Sauter was third quickest. Rookie and practice leader Chandler Smith qualfied sixth.

While it is his first pole at Daytona, it will be his fourth front-row starting position in the track’s races, having started second for three straight seasons from 2016 to 2018. He has also won three times at the track, the first of which in 2013 was with ThorSport. The other two in 2016 and 2018 came with GMS Racing, who enjoyed a solid qualifying effort of their own as reigning champion Sheldon Creed was the second fastest.

Creed was the first to break the 180-mph mark at 180.288 before being surpassed by Sauter. Their team-mates Grant Enfinger—the 2020 Daytona race winner—and rookie Chase Purdy qualified third and fourth, respectively, which provides the front row with immediate drafting partners for the race.

“You just have that feeling sometimes when you can push, when you don’t really have the help behind you that you need but you still can get there. I kinda felt that yesterday,” Sauter told FS1. “We all know qualifying here doesn’t have a lot to do with the driver, so just proud of everybody’s effort.

“It’s cool to start on the pole, I think Grant is third so I got a good pusher there. Hopefully we can set sail and try to stay out of trouble tonight and get a win.”

Forty-six drivers attempted to make the thirty-six-truck field (for races without qualifying, forty drivers will be allowed). The ten who failed to make the lineup were Parker Kligerman, Joe Nemechek, Todd Peck, Spencer Davis, Dawson Cram, Norm Benning, Jesse Iwuji, Ray Ciccarelli, Clay Greenfield, and Tim Viens. Nemechek, Peck, Davis (2019), Benning, Ciccarelli, Greenfield, and Viens (2017) also DNQ’d in their previous attempts at Daytona.

Various drivers suffered misfortunes during the session. After his Thursday practice was plagued by numerous mechanical issues, Greenfield’s woes continued when his truck slowed to a stop in turn four. James Buescher, who returned to NASCAR last season after a five-year hiatus, had his time disallowed after going below the double-yellow line, but the 2012 champion made the field via provisional for former title winners. In an especially bizarre incident, the #83 of Viens lost its driveshaft as crewmen pushed it through pit road. Viens did not practice on Thursday.

Qualifying results

PositionNumberDriverTeamManufacturerBest TimeBest Speed (mph)
113Johnny SauterThorSport RacingToyota49.733180.966
22Sheldon CreedGMS RacingChevrolet49.920180.288
398Grant EnfingerThorSport RacingToyota50.012179.957
423Chase PurdyGMS RacingChevrolet50.015179.946
524Raphaël LessardGMS RacingChevrolet50.069179.752
618Chandler SmithKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota50.099179.644
74John Hunter NemechekKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota50.183179.344
821Zane SmithGMS RacingChevrolet50.204179.269
91Hailie DeeganDavid Gilliland RacingFord50.214179.233
1025Timothy PetersRackley WARChevrolet50.296178.941
1126Tyler AnkrumGMS RacingChevrolet50.301178.923
1242Carson HocevarNiece MotorsportsChevrolet50.308178.898
1317David GillilandDavid Gilliland RacingFord50.308178.898
1488Matt CraftonThorSport RacingToyota50.333178.809
1545Brett MoffittNiece MotorsportsChevrolet50.355178.731
1610Jennifer Jo CobbJennifer Jo Cobb RacingChevrolet50.371178.674
1751Drew DollarKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota50.388178.614
1816Austin HillHattori Racing EnterprisesToyota50.447178.405
1922Austin Wayne SelfAM RacingChevrolet50.491178.250
203Jordan Anderson*Jordan Anderson RacingChevrolet50.504178.204
2138Todd GillilandFront Row MotorsportsFord50.536178.091
2215Tanner GrayDavid Gilliland RacingFord50.536178.091
2399Ben RhodesThorSport RacingToyota50.610177.830
2420Spencer BoydYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet50.668177.627
2540Ryan TruexNiece MotorsportsChevrolet50.687177.560
269Codie RohrbaughCR7 MotorsportsChevrolet50.707177.490
2702Kris WrightYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet50.748177.347
2852Stewart FriesenHalmar Friesen RacingToyota50.794177.186
2930Danny BohnOn Point MotorsportsToyota50.881176.883
3019Derek KrausMcAnally-Hilgemann RacingToyota51.153175.943
3156Gus DeanHill MotorsportsChevrolet51.191175.812
3228Bryan DauzatFDNY RacingChevrolet50.778177.242
3312Tate FoglemanYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet50.856176.970
3404Cory RoperRoper RacingFord50.864176.942
3575Parker KligermanHenderson MotorsportsChevrolet50.932176.706
368Joe NemechekNEMCO MotorsportsFord51.156175.932
3796Todd PeckPeck MotorsportsChevrolet51.360175.234
3811Spencer DavisSpencer Davis MotorsportsToyota51.397175.107
3941Dawson CramCram Racing EnterprisesChevrolet51.473174.849
4033Jason WhiteReaume Brothers RacingChevrolet51.733173.970
416Norm BenningNorm Benning RacingChevrolet51.948173.250
4234Jesse IwujiReaume Brothers RacingToyota52.273172.173
4349Ray CiccarelliCMI MotorsportsChevrolet52.284172.137
4468Clay GreenfieldClay Greenfield MotorsportsToyotaNo TimeNo Time
4583Tim ViensCMI MotorsportsChevroletNo TimeNo Time
4644James BuescherNiece MotorsportsChevroletTime DisallowedTime Disallowed
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Truck points

Starting lineup

StartNumberDriverTeamManufacturer
113Johnny SauterThorSport RacingToyota
22Sheldon CreedGMS RacingChevrolet
398Grant EnfingerThorSport RacingToyota
423Chase PurdyGMS RacingChevrolet
524Raphaël LessardGMS RacingChevrolet
618Chandler SmithGMS RacingChevrolet
74John Hunter NemechekKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota
821Zane SmithGMS RacingChevrolet
91Hailie DeeganDavid Gilliland RacingFord
1025Timothy PetersRackley WARChevrolet
1126Tyler AnkrumGMS RacingChevrolet
1242Carson HocevarNiece MotorsportsChevrolet
1317David GillilandDavid Gilliland RacingFord
1488Matt CraftonThorSport RacingToyota
1545Brett MoffittNiece MotorsportsChevrolet
1610Jennifer Jo CobbJennifer Jo Cobb RacingChevrolet
1751Drew DollarKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota
1816Austin HillHattori Racing EnterprisesToyota
1922Austin Wayne SelfAM RacingChevrolet
203Jordan Anderson*Jordan Anderson RacingChevrolet
2138Todd GillilandFront Row MotorsportsFord
2215Tanner GrayDavid Gilliland RacingFord
2399Ben RhodesThorSport RacingToyota
2420Spencer BoydYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet
2540Ryan TruexNiece MotorsportsChevrolet
269Codie RohrbaughCR7 MotorsportsChevrolet
2702Kris WrightYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet
2828Bryan DauzatFDNY RacingChevrolet
2952Stewart FriesenHalmar Friesen RacingToyota
3012Tate FoglemanYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet
3104Cory RoperRoper RacingFord
3230Danny BohnOn Point MotorsportsToyota
3319Derek KrausMcAnally-Hilgemann RacingToyota
3456Gus DeanHill MotorsportsChevrolet
3533Jason WhiteReaume Brothers RacingChevrolet
3644James BuescherNiece MotorsportsChevrolet
DNQ75Parker KligermanHenderson MotorsportsChevrolet
DNQ8Joe NemechekNEMCO MotorsportsFord
DNQ96Todd PeckPeck MotorsportsChevrolet
DNQ11Spencer DavisSpencer Davis MotorsportsToyota
DNQ41Dawson CramCram Racing EnterprisesChevrolet
DNQ6Norm BenningNorm Benning RacingChevrolet
DNQ34Jesse IwujiReaume Brothers RacingToyota
DNQ49Ray CiccarelliCMI MotorsportsChevrolet
DNQ68Clay GreenfieldClay Greenfield MotorsportsToyota
DNQ83Tim ViensCMI MotorsportsChevrolet
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Truck points
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