MIS victory gives Johnny Sauter Truck Series points lead
Brooklyn – — Johnny Sauter took advantage of a late mistake by Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.’s team to win the 15th Annual Careers For Veterans 200 Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway Saturday afternoon.
Sauter, 36, also left MIS with the points lead in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, taking the top spot from Ryan Blaney who finished 21st.
“I ran the last 40 laps wide open so the truck was running great,” said Sauter of his 10th career win, this one coming with speeds of 180-plus mph and setting a series’ record for the fastest average speed at 161.110, topping the former mark of 154.737 held at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 2, 2012.
“It was a pleasure to drive, no doubt about it. When I was out there leading I could do whatever I wanted to do.”
Wallace had trouble in the pits with 24 laps remaining. He held a 9-second lead, then ran out of fuel on pit road, coasting to his spot. He lost more than 30 seconds while trying to re-fire the truck to get back on the track. He finished 11th.
Sauter pitted on lap 92 in his No. 98 Nextant/Curb Toyota Tundra with eight laps remaining to take a splash of fuel, leaving the lead to teammate Matt Crafton.
“That last stop I just knew I had to get on pit road right, no mistakes and I hit it right,” said Sauter, who teamed for the first time with crew chief Jeff Hensley. “We nailed it on pit road. This is just a great, great day. It’s pretty cool winning our first race coming out of the gate together.”
Crafton had to pit on lap 95 and returned with four laps left, taking the track just behind Sauter and couldn’t catch him the remainder of the race.
“I thought we could catch him and when we came out and went through (turns) 1 and 2, I had a real good run on him and I tried to run through there wide open and I lost the nose and had to jump out of the throttle, and he actually drove away from me,” Crafton said. “If I had another lap, I think I could have got to his bumper to see what I could do.”
Sauter knew it would be close. He won by less than a half second. Ron Hornaday Jr. finished third in a Chevrolet.
“I saw him when I was coming off Turn 4,” said Sauter of Crafton’s late pit stop. “I was looking down pit road and I could see him. When I got to the restart line I could see smoke coming off his tires and I go, ‘Oh boy, I’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there.’ I couldn’t push any harder, that’s for sure. I knew once we got toward Turn 1 and he was still on the apron, I thought that I was going to have enough momentum to clear him, but by the time we got to Turn 2 I wasn’t so sure. I just think we had a little better truck by the end of the race.”
Crafton has won twice this season, but feels he left a lot of points on the track, pointing out he was leading late in the race at St. Louis and blew a right front tire, then broke a wheel at Dover while running second.
It was Sauter’s first win of the season and also first win at MIS. He has now won at least one race in each of the last six seasons.
Kyle Busch, a star in the Sprint Cup series, entered the race as the driver to beat. He had won all five truck races he’d entered this season … but he was still searching for his first win in the series at MIS.
Busch experienced a similar problem to Wallace, running out of fuel down pit road. He finished fifth.
Blaney, who won the pole, suffered problems with the front of his truck.
Truex suffers concussion in crash
Ryan Truex had an accident Saturday morning in Sprint Cup practice at MIS.
Truex, a 22-year-old rookie driving in his No. 83 Burger King Toyota, lost control in Turn 2, crashing hard into the wall during the first practice of the day.
Truex was taken into the infield medical center and later by ambulance to a local hospital for further observation.
In a release, his team officials said Truex had CT scans of his head, neck, chest and abdomen, which were all negative. He was diagnosed with a concussion and will miss Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400.
When asked what happened to cause the accident, Truex’s crew chief Joe Williams replied: “I don’t know what happened and we haven’t seen a replay. I haven’t talked to him about it.”
Truex is 26th in points and still searching for his first win of the season.
J.J. Yeley will fill in for Truex in Sunday’s race.