Daytona Redemption for Sauter
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on February 22, 2013 | 9:50 P.M. EST
Sauter celebrates his first win in five starts at Daytona. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Johnny Sauter made it through a crash-filled NextEra Energy 250 to win the season-opening NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
Sauter scored his seventh career series win in Friday night’s slam bang lid lifter to the 2013 truck series campaign. It was the veteran’s first-ever triumph at “The World Center of Racing.”
In fact before Friday night, Sauter had never finished inside the top 10
The ThorSport Racing driver notched the 100th series win for Toyota and seventh straight at Daytona.
Sauter was in front of Kyle Busch when the white flag flew and a four truck crash broke out to bring out the caution. That locked down the win for the Wisconsin native who scored a pair of series victories in 2012.
“I’m so proud of this team,” said Sauter. “We got so close a year ago. I didn’t think we would get back up to the front. I’m kind of speechless right now.
“It’s just so hard to win these. I can’t believe I’m in Victory Lane in Daytona.”
The night was a typically wild affair, which has been the truck series’ reputation since first racing at Daytona. Sauter said even with all the side-by-side racing it was a difficult proposition to move up in the field.
“Track position seemed to be everything and it was very hard to pass,” Sauter said. “You just had to be in the right line at the right time.”
The victory was a sweet redemption for Sauter after his 2012 outing and near win at Daytona.
“We came so close a year ago, and that was a tough one to swallow,” said Sauter, who was wrecked while leading last year’s race. “Tonight seemed to be about track position, and I thought we were in big trouble there when we were like 14th with 30 to go. I thought, man, we’re just not going to be able to get there.”
Busch had hoped the race went the entire distance and was disappointed he wasn’t able to mount a last lap challenge for the win.
“Man, what a frustrating end,” said Busch who finished second in the race for the third time in his career. “You put yourself in position all night long and you do everything right and you have the guys behind you crash after taking the white flag.
“I had it all planned out. I was going to make it exciting for the fans.”
Busch will have to wait another season before getting another crack to win a truck race at Daytona.
“It’s the only one I’m missing, I’ve got ARCA, Nationwide and Cup at Daytona, have yet to get a truck win so try again next time,” said Busch.
Ron Hornaday, Justin Lofton and Jeb Burton rounded out the top five.
Ty Dillon, Miguel Paludo, Ryan Blaney, Matt Crafton and Ryan Sieg completed the top ten finishers.
Sauter dodged a major bullet when he was able to escape the night’s biggest accident that saw 14 trucks involved before the dust settled.
Brendan Gaughan made contact with German Quiroga on the inside and pole-sitter Brennan Newberry was sent hard into the outside wall in the melee that broke out on lap 54.
Sauter was directly behind Gaugahn but was able to duck down around the crash with his teammate Matt Crafton right on his tail.
There were 11 lead changes among six drivers in a race that was slowed six times for twenty laps.
The average speed of the race was 141.598 mph.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action on Saturday, April 6 at Martinsville Speedway.