Sauter Scores Talladega Win

Johnny Sauter
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Race Results

TALLADEGA, Ala. - Johnny Sauter emerged from a wild last-lap battle to win Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race as 12 trucks crashed behind him.

Justin Lofton was the only driver transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. He suffered a fractured left thumb and was released. The rest were treated and released from the infield care center.

The victory allowed Sauter to sweep the season’s two restrictor-plate races. Points leader Matt Crafton finished ninth and extended his points lead with four races to go. Crafton leads Ty Dillon by 57 points. James Buescher, who entered the race second in the points, fell to third. He is 58 points behind Crafton after being collected in a crash. Dillon placed 14th; Buescher 26th.

The last-lap accident started as Miguel Paludo was pushing Jeb Burton and Burton bounced into Kyle Busch. Paludo’s truck got on its side and rolled over as others crashed. Paludo declined through a spokesperson to speak to reporters after leaving the infield care center.

Ahead of the incident, Ross Chastain and Parker Kligerman - who had been challenging for the lead - drifted up from the lower lane and into the trucks of Crafton and Dakoda Armstrong and crashed.

“Its pretty eerie when you come to the med center and like half the field is in there,’’ said John Wes Townley, who finished seventh.

Darrell Wallace Jr. placed 17th after he was collected in the accident, which had him shaking his head afterward.

“Hardest hit of my career and scared the hell out of me,’’ he said.

Busch climbed from his wrecked truck and sat against the wall for a bit. He said he was OK after leaving the infield care center.

“There were a couple of really good licks I took,’’ Busch said. “There was no sense in sitting a hot vehicle. You might as well get out and get some fresh air.’’

A Talladega Superspeedway spokesperson said an inspection showed that there was “no structural damage’’ to the walls after the crash.

While drivers emerged from the care center, Sauter was celebrating his ninth career series victory.

On the last lap, three pairs of trucks ran side-by-side. Kligerman pushed Chastain on the bottom lane. Crafton pushed Sauter in the middle lane. Busch pushed Armstrong on the top lane.

“I think everyone is studying and everybody is getting smarter ... and they’re believing in the tandem,’’ said Sauter, who collected $55,685 for the victory. “We actually got separated a little bit and as we hooked back up, I drove the brake and ... I was like, ‘Hey, this is actually going to work out better and we’re going to have huge momentum.’ ‘’

David Starr finished second for his best finish since 2008. He was followed by three drivers involved in the crash - Chastain, Kligerman and Armstrong.

“I hope everybody turns out OK and we can come back and race just as hard because that’s just good, hard racing and there’s really nothing wrong with the trucks,’’ Starr said.

Timmy Hill placed sixth and was followed by Townley, Max Gresham, Crafton and Busch. Norm Benning, making his 111th series start, finished a career-high 12th.

 

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