Sauter bumps Busch aside for first win at Martinsville
Sauter nudged Busch aside with two laps to go to score his third career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory Saturday at the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway and secure the series point lead for the first time in his career.
Ron Hornaday, Jr. was third followed by Kevin Harvick, who made a remarkable rally from two laps down to finish fourth. Timothy Peters rounded out the top five.
Sauter, who’s wife is expecting their second child on Monday, scored a clean sweep for the weekend, taking the pole, the win and leading a race-high 71 laps. He’s now the first truck series regular to score a victory in the series this season, and now leads the standings by five points over Matt Crafton.
“This is just a huge win, I can’t believe I finally won here, this place has been so rough on me and we’ve always been fast here,” said Sauter. “That’s the way racing’s supposed to be, the tires fall off and you get to bump and grind a little bit. Awesome win.”
“I think Kyle got into the corner and got loose, swung the back around and tried to come back down and I was there and I made contact with him. It’s pretty cool when you can beat Kyle Busch. It’s been a good weekend for me, I got a baby being born on Monday. Everybody told me when you have babies, you start slowing down, but we’ve only gotten better.”
Busch looked to have the race in the bag at after passing Austin Dillon for the top spot with 30 laps to go and eventually moving out to a four truck-length lead over Sauter, until Matt Lofton spun with 10 laps to go to bring out the 13th and final caution.
On the restart, Busch got a good jump on the green flag but Sauter did as well, reeling the leader in as Busch struggled to find grip with his worn tires.
With two laps to go, Sauter closed in an got his nose under Busch’s bumper in turn two, edging Busch’s Toyota Tundra aside and pulling even with him on the backstretch.
By the time the field came to the white flag, Sauter had position on Busch and cleared him going into turn one.
Busch tried to put the bumper to Sauter coming through the final turn, but came up a few feet short as Sauter pulled away out of turn four to score the victory.
Coming into Saturday race with five victories already including a truck series win in Phoenix, Busch had yet to win at Martinsville in seven starts, his best finish being a runner-up to Hornaday last October.
“Just got beat there at the end. Burnt the front tires off of it I guess,” said Busch. “We got away from Johnny (Sauter) a little bit there. We were kind of racing through traffic a little bit. He got to my back bumper and we could at least get away from him. The tires were still good there, but then once we got back going green on that final restart we just didn’t have any turn left and kind of got run over -- gave it away.”
Harvick’s fourth-place finish capped an amazing comeback after going two laps pitting to fix a camber issue early in the race.
After picking up two “Lucky Dog” passes, Harvick was back on the lead lap by lap 165 and managed to fight his way to third with 30 laps to go.
Shortly after the final restart, Hornaday passed Harvick for third in Harvick’s own truck, giving Kevin Harvick Inc. two trucks finishing in the top five.
“My team did a good job of just salvaging what we had to do to make the tires survive,” said Harvick. “It was just a terrible tire, there’s no rubber on the race track - who knows what tomorrow (the Sprint Cup race) is going to bring, it’s just going to be about survival
“These are the day that you’ve got to do to have championships teams, and the 2 and 33 doing what they had to do survive was impressive - even though we want to win and this has been one of our best race tracks, today just wasn’t our day but we salvaged two top-fives out of it.”
Cole Whitt, Dillon, Ricky Carmichael Brendan Gaughan and Max Papis rounded out the top ten. Only two trucks – Jeffrey Earnhardt and James Buescher – failed to finish the event.
* Denotes Rookie
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