BROOKLYN, Mich. -- As the NASCAR Camping World Trucks series haulers were cleaned up and packed with trucks, tools, and equipment, many of the drivers prepared to take 625-mile drive back to a region that's considered the cradle of auto racing.
But one contingent was headed in a different direction than Charlotte
ThorSport Racing instead headed to Springfield, Ill. -- a seven-hour, 435-mile drive southwest of Michigan International Speedway.
ThorSport, a Sandusky-based motorsports team, had three trucks teams compete Saturday in the VFW 200 at MIS, won by Nelson Piquet, Jr. Piquet won ahead of Jason White and ThorSport driver Dakoda Armstrong.
ThorSport's Johnny Sauter finished 11th and Matt Crafton 16th.
"Even though it was kind of a dramatic end, the whole race was fun," said Piquet, the son of former Formula One driver Nelson Piquet. "It wasn't as boring as it seemed at the end, when he had the lead."
Piquet won despite using only one tank of fuel on the final 86 laps. The Brazilian took over the lead on the 89th lap, taking advantage of a cycle of green-flag pit stops, including one by Kurt Busch, who led for 57 of the race's 100 laps.
"It was a strange race today," ThorSport general manager David Pepper said. "With the fuel mileage, some guys were able to stretch it, and everybody was on a different strategy. Some guys benefited and some guys were hurt by it. Dakoda Armstrong and Dan Stillman, his crew chief, made a fantastic call to get fuel and stay out. And we came away with a career-best finish for the team and the driver."
ThorSport will join ARCA driver Frank Kimmel, who will drive today in the ARCA Racing Series Allen Crowe 100. ThorSport then will travel to Bristol, Tenn., for Wednesday's Camping World Trucks Series NCWTS 200, the third of six races in a 16-day stretch.
"People make a really big deal about us being in the northern hub of racing, as we like to call it," said Pepper, who is in his 10th season with ThorSport. "We don't really look at it that way. We're a race team, we prepare race cars, we transport them to races with 18-wheelers.
"We just leave a little later when the races are closer to us."
ASKING QUESTIONS: Sprint Cup driver Ryan Newman took some exception to NASCAR rescheduling qualifying for the Pure Michigan 400 for Friday.
"Why is that?" Newman asked. "Who really screws up the schedule that much? The lack of consistency is not good for our sport."
Traditionally, qualifying is scheduled for the day before a race but MIS and NASCAR in July announced Friday qualifying for the Pure Michigan 400. MIS and NASCAR representatives told The Blade that several venues had expressed interest in moving qualifying from Saturday to Friday, including MIS, and NASCAR ultimately made the decision.
Qualifying for the Quicken Loans 400 was June 16, a day before the Sprint Cup race.
Atlanta Motor Speedway will also have Friday qualifying for its Sept. 2 Sprint Cup race, the AdvoCare 500.
TALKIN' ABOUT PRACTICE: While Mark Martin won the pole for today's race with a top lap speed of 199.706 miles per hour during Friday's qualifying, the Sprint Cup practice speeds continued to increase Saturday morning at MIS.
Greg Biffle had the top speed of 200.362 during Saturday's practice, ahead of Kasey Kahne (198.588) and Carl Edwards (198.555).
SUPPORTING THE TROOPS: The Goodyear Gives Back program that helps Support Our Troops is on-site at MIS.
In conjunction with the VFW and local volunteers, Goodyear conducted a second care package drive to send 5,000 packages to troops overseas, with a focus on those deployed from Michigan. Goodyear has a display in the midway at MIS all weekend. Fans can learn more about Goodyear and the program, purchase Support Our Troops apparel, make custom photos, donate to Support Our Troops, play Plinko, and more.
Goodyear Gives Back continues through the end of August and is on track to donate $250,000 to Support Our Troops.
-- Rachel Lenzi