DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Coming off one of the worst years of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career, Johnny Sauter needed a quick rebound. He got it in qualifying Friday at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
Sauter, who went winless and missed the Truck Series playoffs last season, raced to the Cometic Gasket Pole Award ahead of the season-opening NextEra Energy Resources 250.
The 17-year Truck Series veteran toured the 2.5-mile superspeedway in 49.733 seconds (180.966 mph) with his No. 13 Vivitar Toyota Tundra.
Friday’s effort marked the ninth Truck Series pole of Sauter’s career, his first at Daytona and his first pole since Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway in February of last year.
It was also a fast start for ThorSport Racing in the organization’s return to Toyota after a three-year stint under the Ford banner, with the Duke Thorson-owned team taking two of the top three grid spots.
“I felt like our truck was pretty fast yesterday,” Sauter tipped after qualifying concluded. “Our Vivitar Toyota … you know, sometimes you just have that feel that you can push, even when you don’t necessarily have the help that you need, and still get where you need to. I somewhat felt that yesterday. I’m proud of Joe [Shear Jr., crew chief] and all my guys at ThorSport, because we all know that qualifying here doesn’t have a lot to do with the driver. I’m just proud of everyone’s effort.
“It’s cool to start on the pole, and I think Grant [Enfinger, teammate] is third, so I’ve got a good pusher there. Hopefully we can set sail, stay out of trouble tonight and get another Daytona win.”
Defending series champion Sheldon Creed will join Sauter on the front row, after a lap of 49.920 seconds (180.288 mph) in the No. 2 I.B.E.W. Chevrolet Silverado for GMS Racing.
Creed is seeking his first victory on the Daytona oval, after he won last summer in the Truck Series’ debut on the Daytona road course configuration that is also used for the Rolex 24 sports car race.
Both Sauter and Creed will have teammates behind them at the start of the 100-lap season kickoff, with Enfinger lining up third and Chase Purdy qualifying fourth fastest.
Canadian Raphael Lessard was fifth on the speed charts, followed by Chandler Smith, John Hunter Nemechek, Zane Smith, Hailie Deegan and Timothy Peters.
Austin Hill, who won at Daytona in the Truck Series two years ago, will start 18th Friday night. Last year’s runner-up, journeyman Jordan Anderson, will line up just behind Hill after posting the 20th-best lap.
With 46 trucks on the property, 10 drivers failed to qualify for the Truck Series season opener.
In order of their qualifying speed, those missing the cut were Parker Kligerman, Joe Nemechek, Todd Peck, Spencer Davis, Dawson Cram, Norm Benning, Jesse Iwuji, Ray Ciccarelli, Clay Greenfield and Tim Viens.
Both Greenfield and Viens did not post times due to various mechanical issues.
The NextEra Energy Resources 250 is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. ET start Friday night, with live coverage on FS1, the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.
To view complete qualifying results, advance to the next page.
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