Development Journalists

Sauter Leaves ThorSport; Heads to GMS Racing for 2016

After six consecutive years racing full-time with ThorSport Racing, @JohnnySauter will head into the 2016 season with a different team – GMS Racing.

Sauter, who has 10 wins, 63 top-five’s, and 99 top-ten’s in 170 starts in the Camping World Series and currently sits fourth in the points standings, will bring a lot of experience to GMS.

“This opportunity to race with GMS Racing in 2016 is incredible,” Sauter stated. “They’ve quickly built an impressive, race-winning organization in a short period of time and have only gotten stronger as the season has progressed. I can’t wait for Speedweeks at Daytona to get working with everyone, and am excited to rejoin the Chevrolet family as well. GMS Racing brings really fast trucks to the racetrack, and I can’t wait to run up front and compete for race wins with them.”

The addition of Sauter comes in a time of increased progression for GMS Racing according to Dayne Pierantoni, GM Racing Program Manager for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

“GMS has made tremendous progress building their organization into (a) team capable of competing consistently and winning races” Pierantoni said. “Hiring Johnny Sauter for 2016 demonstrates their desire to win and put forth a championship level effort. We are looking forward to seeing Johnny race under the Chevrolet banner once again.”

Since GMS started competing in the Camping World Truck Series in 2013, the team has accumulated 12 top-five’s, 27 top ten’s, and two poles. The team also celebrated their first victory earlier this year at Pocono with @austindillon3. Over time, the team’s stats have steadily increased, and team owner Maurice Gallagher believes they will see even more improvement with Sauter.

“We’ve worked extremely hard to put great people in the right places at GMS Racing, and adding Johnny Sauter to our lineup is a monumental step in that process. Johnny has proven himself to be a perennial contender at this level, and we’re confident he’ll help elevate GMS Racing into a championship contending program.”

The 37-year old Wisconsin native will join current driver Spencer Gallagher (@23SpeedRacer) as a driver for GMS in the Camping World Truck Series for the 2016 season.

Mitchell Breuer is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist



Reddick Faces Uphill Battle Following Loudon

After a tough couple of days, New Hampshire will be a weekend @TylerReddick puts behind him.

Entering the weekend only 10 points behind leader @Erik_Jones after a solid second place day at Chicagoland, Reddick was hoping to carry that momentum into New Hampshire. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the case for the 19-year-old.

When race weekend started on Friday, Reddick and the Brad Keselowski Racing team didn’t show the speed his championship rivals did. Failing to practice within the top-10, placing 15th in the first practice session, Reddick also wasn’t within the top-15 in the second and final practice session of the weekend placing 18th (11 positions behind Jones).

In qualifying, the No 19 Stoney Creek Records Ford managed to advance into round two. Falling short of advancing to the final 12, Reddick had to settle for a 14th starting position, again behin his rivals.

During the early laps of the UNOH 175, Reddick would make some early gains, at one point racing in the top-10. But on Lap 37, Reddick’s day would take a literal turn. Running through oil on the track, he wound up sideways on the frontstretch. Fortunately, he didn’t make contact with the wall.

As the race got back going Reddick couldn’t manage to get anything on track going and stayed in the middle of the pack. A caution before their green flag pit stop helped with track position and moving into the top-10 with a little over 30 to go. But, just as things were getting better and looking up, another spin would stall any momentum he was gaining.

With 14 laps to go, Reddick again got loose, this time on the backstretch. Hitting the inside wall, the spin ended any chance at a top-10 finish. As the race closed, Reddick would bring the truck home a disappointing 15th place.

Reddick dropped to third in the championship standings, 12 markers behind @Matt_Crafton and 19 back from Jones. With only six races remaining in the Camping World Truck Series season, a championship is not impossible for Reddick, but it has now turned into an uphill battle.

Mitchell Breuer is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist



Elliott Says He Did a ‘Terrible Job’ at Road America

Some days, a fourth place finish just isn’t enough. @chaseelliott will be the first in line to admit that.

After leading just over half the laps in Saturday’s Road America 180, Elliott was not only visibly frustrated but also hard on himself for managing what some would consider a hard-fought top-five.

But it wasn’t enough to be acceptable for Elliott. Not even close.

“A top-five is not a win. So, have to be honest with yourself. I screwed it up,” he said afterward.

The 2014 XFINITY Series Champion’s day began on a positive. Starting on the front row with JR Motorsports teammate @benrhodes. As the race began, more positives would occur. Elliott would move quickly and pass his teammate early on and take the lead. As the race carried on, more positives. The driver of the NAPA Chevrolet started to look stronger and stronger in his pursuit of his first win of the 2015 season.

At one Elliott even held an impressive 12-second lead over a distant second place. But following the event’s second caution, Elliott’s solid day started to fade and all the positives turned to negatives.

While other leaders pitted under an early caution, Elliott held firm on track and in the race lead. But as the race restarted, @bscottracing overtook the 19-year-old. After losing the lead, things to seemed to begin to get worse for him. Not long after losing the lead, Elliott would spin and go off the racing surface. A mistake that dropped Elliott further behind in the running order and seemingly out of contention for the win.

The rest of the race for Elliott would be spent rebounding to a fourth place finish. And even though he gained points on XFINITY points leader @Chris_Buescher, he still wasn’t happy with his result and didn’t feel as if he had even at most an average day.

“Absolutely terrible job on my part,” Elliott said. “Beyond way too many mistakes, just absolutely screwed that up. Terrible day for me.”

Despite all the positives to be had in day like his, Elliott was still hard on himself. Dejected, frustrated, and angry all words that could be used to describe the driver’s mood. After having arguably the best car early, Elliott felt as if he let his team down.

“I hate it for my guys,” he said. “Had such a great car and I let them down. My bad.”

Mitchell Breuer is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist


Development Journalists

Cup Drivers Continue to Stink-Up XFINITY Shows

When the checkered flag flew at Bristol Motor Speedway this past Friday night, following fuel issues for @Chris_Buescher, @KyleBusch was taking another bow and collected yet another win in the XFINITY Series. Marking another ‘W’ for Sprint Cup Series drivers and more heartbreak for XFINITY Series regulars.

A feeling the regulars know all too well.

So far, this season has produced just five wins from series regulars in 22 events.

To put that in perspective, that is only 23 perecent of the races run this year. Three of them were at stand-alone events without Sprint Cup Series drivers; Chris Buescher at Iowa, Ryan @Blaney (runs for XFINITY Series points) once again at Iowa, and @ReganSmith at Mid-Ohio last weekend. One came at Dover, where Buescher won via fuel stratgey. One came at Daytona, a track known for being the equalizer in which @driverRyanReed took advantage and came home with the victory.

The other 20 races?

Those went to either the stars of the Sprint Cup Series and ocassional Camping World Truck Series star (@erik_jones). Races in which several times has seen a Cup driver dominate. When they compete in the XFINITY Series, they do so for top-tier teams. So, a win success is almost expected.

This doesn’t take away anything from the XFINITY regulars. Finishing behind Sprint Cup Series champions like a @KevinHarvick or Brad @Keselowski is respectable, as well is finishing behind Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch — a driver/team combo that has been hard to stop even in NASCAR’s premier series. But despite the level of their competitors, not winning races still leaves a bitter taste for the regulars.

Now there are just two remaining stand-alone events on the schedule, one of which is next weekend at Road America and next month at Kentucky Speedway. Both provide the perfect opportunities for regulars to score more wins in the series, but they still want to beat the Cup drivers. Just look at Blaney and Buescher’s post race interviews when they lost to Kyle Busch at Indy and most recently Bristol. Both men were disappointed and frustrated because they knew they had an opportunity to win. The opportunity to beat one of the best in the sport was offered, but had it slip through their fingers in the closing stages of the race.

Drivers dropping down to compete in a lower series isn’t something new. And even with complaints from fans, it will likely never change. More track time will always be tempting to higher-tier drivers.

But for those complaining I remind you of an old saying: “To be the best you have to beat the best.”


Mitchell Breuer is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist


NASCAR Cup Series

Stewart Looking at Positives of Recent Performances

Even when you finish last there can always be positives to find, just ask @TonyStewart .

Stewart ended his first race at the road course of Watkins Glen International since 2012 with a 43rd place finish. A rear gear mechanical failure caused the all the oil in the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet to dump out.

“When I came off of (Turn) 1 I could feel it like it was kind of pulling heavy and going up through the esses you could hear it let go right at the end of the esses.” Stewart said, describing what had happened to his car that took him out of the race on Lap 56 of the 90 lap race.

Stewart admitted he and the 14 team struggled in some spots during the race but still managed to make improvement throughout the race weekend.

“Through Turn 10 everybody was beating me between Turn 10 and 11. We definitely struggled there, but I think there were parts of the racetrack that we made better from Friday,” Stewart said. “I felt like we gained on it.”

The 44-year-veteran of the sport started the day upfront in the third position and even ran within the top-10 for most of his time on the track.

In a season where he has had only two top-10’s and no top five’s, Stewart’s season worst 43rd place finished marks his third finish outside the top-20 in the last five races and the fourth time he had failed to finish a race this year.

“I guess for me its big picture. The way our season has been we’ve picked up,” he said. “Indy we picked up, Pocono we picked up, we picked up here in qualifying at all three places for sure.”

Despite the outcome, Stewart isn’t wrong the 14 team. They have been improving the last three races and showing speed as they’ve had their best qualifying efforts of the season, qualifying in the top-five in each of the events.

Even without getting the solid finishes the Columbus, Indiana native believes his team is heading in the right direction.

“At the end of the day the results won’t show it, but I think for us it’s … granted it’s three totally different disciplines and packages and all that, but I feel like we are starting to gain some momentum,” Stewart said. “Like I said, it won’t show it at the end of the day on the results, but I feel good about our weekend.”

Mitchell Breuer is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist


Development Journalists

Jones Hoping to Double Down on Weekend Wins

Two tracks. One driver.

This weekend, @erik_jones will be doing something that doesn’t happen a lot, traveling 979 miles to complete 400 laps of racing. Jones will first be competing in the 150-mile NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Pocono Raceway, and then under the lights in the 250-mile XFINITY Series event at Iowa Speedway.

“I had a pretty positive outlook on the double-header stuff before, but the opportunity to get two wins, honestly, I think is enticing for any driver to be excited,” Jones said this week. “This one will be a little bit tougher, probably the toughest one we have to do all year, double header-wise like this. We race in Pocono and when the race is over we’re going to fly right there and it will be pretty close to even getting in the car in time to make the race.”

It may be considered nothing compared to driving the Indianapolis/Charlotte double, however, running two races in two different states on the same day would seem crazy to most but for Jones it’s almost to be expected. In a year that has seen its fill of highs and lows, he has remained strong during a seemingly hectic year. Once the sun rises on Saturday, the Bryon, Michigan native will begin yet another chapter in his 2015 season.

Jones will begin his first race of the day driving the No. 4 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports at “The Tricky Triangle.” Although he may not have very much experience at this track, he currently sits third in the NCWTS driver’s standings and has found some success at Pocono.

This includes two top-fives (Camping World Truck and ARCA Racing Series). Jones will also look to narrow the 24 point between him and current Camping World Truck Series point leader Matt Crafton.

After the checkered flag waves in Pocono, the 19-year-old will head to Newton, Iowa to pilot the No. 54 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Drew Herring, who practiced and qualified for him in Chicago a few weeks ago, will again be doing the same.

“I feel like me and Drew have been able to collide pretty well on some of the stuff that we have been working on to be better and be closer together on where he is getting the car ready for me,” Jones said. “We did a really good job with that in Chicagoland and even the first time in Iowa wasn’t bad, just not quite what I was looking for. I feel like Drew will have a good idea what to do going back this time. Obviously the 54 team has been good and it’ll be a pretty fun day.”

Iowa Speedway is a track the young talent has gained a lot of experience competing in the Camping World Truck and XFINITY Series. In a total of five starts between both series Jones has five top-10s, one pole and two wins. Two of those five starts came this year.

In his first start at the track this season, he started from the rear of the field and drove to a solid third-place finish in the second-tier series. In his most recent start in “The Hawkeye State,” he started out front and after leading 112 of 200 laps finished there too.

Jones will also look to help the No. 54 team in the owner points battle. The team currently sits fifth, 83 points behind No. 22 of Team Penske who holds the top spot.

Mitchell Breuer is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist


Development Journalists

Blaney, Wood Brothers Looking for Sunnier Days

It is an understatement to say it’s been a rough two weeks for Ryan @Blaney and the Wood Brothers team.

In Daytona, the 21-year-old driver and his race team unloaded with a fast number No. 21 Ford. Unfortunately, qualifying would be cancelled because of weather conditions, sending the Wood Brothers team home due to their lack of owner’s points. Marking the first time since 2010, the organization missed a race at Daytona.

The following week found Blaney along with the Wood Brothers and new sponsor Snap-On Tools heading to Kentucky Speedway in hopes of putting Daytona behind them. Once again, the High Point, NC native would show speed by placing 16th in the opening practice session. However, weather would cancel qualifying, sending the team home.

Now, Blaney, Wood Brothers Racing and new sponsor SKF look to rebound at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

This weekend will mark the young driver’s first trip to NHMS for a Sprint Cup Series race and third for any of NASCAR’s touring series. Blaney’s first start at the track came in the Whelen Modified Series, where he’d finish 33rd after a crash took him out early.

His second trip came last year in the Camping World Truck Series, which went better as he qualified fourth and ended up finishing 10th. Blaney may not have much experience at this racetrack, but he has more trips to NHMS in the last seven years than the team that fields the No. 21 in the Sprint Cup Series.

The Wood Brothers made their last appearance at the Loudon track in September 2008. Bill Elliott, 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, was their driver and came home 29th. Less than seven years later, the team now aligned with Team Penske (who won all Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series races at NHMS) will hope to better that finish with Blaney.

This weekend will also mark the start of a three-race sponsorship deal with SKF, who is reuniting with Blaney. The company sponsored two races last year during his Sprint Cup Series debut and first start at Talladega where he led laps.

“I’m looking forward to giving SKF a good solid run,” Blaney said this week.

It was also announced in this release that SKF will also sponsor the Wood Brothers at Bristol and Chicagoland later in the year.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway gives new hope to this team. The weather forecast for the venue looks good on Friday as the Wood Brothers Racing and Blaney hope to rebound from the last two weekends and shine with their new sponsor SKF.

Mitchell Breuer is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist