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A packed weekend of racing action at Texas Motor Speedway got underway on Thursday with two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice sessions in preparation for Friday night's WinStar World Casino & Resort 350.
Sauter's best lap was set in the second, longer 90-minute practice session when he reached 29.969s (180.186mph) on the 1.5-mile high-banked oval to put himself 0.039s ahead of his ThorSport Racing team mate Jeb Burton.
That was very comparable with his effort in the earlier first hour-long session, when he clocked a lap of 29.981s (180.114mph) to edge out Red Horse Racing's Timothy Peters by 0.095s. Peters and Sauter had rowed after last week's race at Martinsville and needed to be separated by team crew members to stop the altercation from getting out of hand.
In the third of the ThorSport Racing entries, reigning series champion Matt Crafton was just tenth fastest in the first session but improved to fifth in the later run as he seeks to hold on to his Truck title for a second consecutive season.
Crafton comes into this weekend's round with an 18 point lead in the series championship over Brad Keselowski Racing's Ryan Blaney after Sauter slipped out of contention over the last few weeks and with just two races remaining in 2014 after Texas. Blaney was only 12th fastest in the first session, and then fell back even further to 15th in the second.
After several weeks where the Truck regulars were left alone to do their own thing while Sprint Cup drivers focussed on the Chase play-offs, this weekend sees the return to action of owner-driver Kyle Busch behind the wheel of the #51. Busch didn't take part in the first session but soon shot to the top of the timesheets in the second, finally finishing as the fourth-fastest driver just ahead of NTS Motorsports' Brennan Newberry and Turner Scott Motorsports' Cameron Hayley.
With 32 entries for Friday night's race, only 25 took part in the first practice but this rose to 30 for the second. There was only one brief caution during the day, 15 minutes from the end of the first session for suspected fluid leaking from the #50 MAKE Motorsports driven by TJ Bell, but this proved to be merely a harmless tyre rub rather than engine issues. Qualifying for the race takes place at 2.15pm local time (7.15pm GMT) with the race itself starting underneath the floodlights at 7.30pm (12.30am GMT).
There will also be Sprint Cup action at Texas with a 90-minute first practice starting at noon and qualifying for the AAA Texas 500 taking place at 5.45pm (10.45pm GMT). The Nationwide Series is back in action as well this weekend, with two practice sessions taking place during the day.
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See full practice 1 results from Texas
See full practice 2 results from Texas