After shop fire, ThorSport "working in parking lots"

Despite a major fire that engulfed its race shop in Sandusky, Ohio earlier this week, ThorSport Racing’s general manager David Pepper said the team’s goals “haven’t changed.”

After shop fire, ThorSport "working in parking lots"
Rico Abreu, ThorSport Racing Toyota
Ben Rhodes, ThorSport Racing Toyota
Cameron Hayley, ThorSport Racing Toyota
Matt Crafton, ThorSport Racing Toyota
Ben Rhodes, ThorSport Racing Toyota
Rico Abreu, ThorSport Racing Toyota
Cameron Hayley, ThorSport Racing Toyota
Matt Crafton, ThorSport Racing Toyota race winner

“Whether we’re building trucks in parking lots, whether we’re working at race tracks and asking them to stay late so we can build them, we have to build race trucks that keep the points lead, the put all our trucks in the Chase and win a championship,” Pepper said Friday at Iowa Speedway.

“There can’t be a built-in excuse. This is where we have to show our leadership and lead this team to where it needs to be and that as one of the premier teams, which we feel we are.”

The fire, which Pepper said started in the backside of the building, did extensive damage to the team’s 100,000-square-foot shop in Sandusky. Fire investigators have not yet determined a cause, Pepper said.

ThorSport, owned by Duke and Rhonda Thorson, fields four fulltime teams in the NASCAR Truck Series with drivers Matt Crafton, Rico Abreu, Ben Rhodes and Cameron Hayley.

Crafton, a two-time series champion, currently leads the series standings and has already earned two wins this season. Hayley is 11th in points, Rhodes is 15th and Abreu is 17th entering Saturday night’s race at Iowa.

Keeping the ship righted 

“We’re kind of scattered all over Sandusky right now. A lot of people in the community and in the NASCAR community have helped, just bringing us pieces and parts on trailers,” Pepper said. “We have a plan – we’re here. The good thing is no one was hurt.

“We plan to compete on schedule the rest of the season – all four trucks will be at every race. We’re kind of going ‘old school’ now – working in the parking lots. Back in the 1990s, we used to build trucks in parking lots in between races, particularly on the West Coast.

“We would not be here racing without the first responders. We had firefighters from four different locations in the counties. They were fighting the fires in full fire gear and asking us what race trucks did they need to push out in order for us to get to Iowa.”

Resources from all four teams were affected by the fire, Pepper said. Approximately 40 percent of the top side of the shop was lost.

“The best medicine for us right now would be to win,” he said.

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