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King wrecks leader to win Daytona Truck race

by Pete McCole
Saturday, February 25, 2012

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Rookie John King - "Golly, I flat freakin' wrecked him," to win the truck race
Getty Images for NASCAR
23-year-old NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie John King scored his first career victory in a wild finish to the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway on Friday night, capping one of the most crash-filled races of all of Speedweeks

King, in only his eighth-career NCWTS start, held off teammate Timothy Peters on the third and final attempt at a green-white-checkered finish to notch his best finish since a 15th-place showing in his series debut at Bristol in August, 2010.

It was King’s first career Daytona start – his first start on any superspeedway – and his first start for Red Horse Racing.

“Man, I’m a rookie, I’m not supposed to be here,” said King. “This is unreal. I don’t know what to say. I have never driven anything so smooth in my life as that race truck. It’s just a dream come true.”

Peters was credited with the runner-up spot, followed by Justin Lofton, Travis Kvapil and Jason White.

King didn’t so much win the race as survive it, emerging as the leader after taking out race leader Johnny Sauter - who himself was just a mere 100 feet from a first Daytona victory of his own  - when Sauter got turned into the outside wall off the bumper of King, touching off an 11-truck crash that brought out the red flag.

King was flagged as the leader, trailed by teammates Todd Bodine and Peters.

After a nearly 12 minute red flag, King brought the field back under green with Bodine on his outside and Peters on his back bumper, getting a push past Bodine, who fell back to sixth place.

Just after taking the white flag, Joey Coulter and Buescher got together just past the start-finish line, triggering another crash that sent Coulter’s truck flying backwards into the catch fencing and somersaulting down the frontstretch, bringing out the ninth and final caution flag which effectively ended the race, sending King to victory lane.

No one was more surprised that he was.

“The expectations were just to finish. That's what I told (his team) at the start of the race,” said King. “I said, ‘Let's get a finish, keep me out of trouble’.  We dropped to the back with hopes of missing the big one.  It wasn't until we made it into the top five on restarts that I thought, ‘Man, this could happen, this could get going’.  There were a couple uncertainties with a couple green-white-checkereds we had to encounter, but we made it happen.”

The truck series events at Daytona have carried a reputation of being a meat-grinder of a race, and Friday’s race was no exception, with six multi-truck melees involving no less than 28 of the 36 trucks entered in the race, with 18 trucks failing to finish the race.

Miguel Paludo
Getty Images for NASCAR
By far the most frightening crash involved polesitter Miguel Paludo, who spun off the bumper of teammate James Buescher coming through the short chute on lap 85 and pounded the inside wall, doing 360 in midair before coming to rest at the entrance of pit road.

Paludo emerged uninjured, but there were more wrecks to come.

As the race came down to seven laps to go, a five-truck wreck in the short chute brought out the sixth caution of the night and sent the race into overtime for a green-white-checkered finish.

On the restart, Sauter shot to the lead past White on the outside with a push from Ron Hornaday, Jr., but before the field could complete a lap, another crash – this one taking out seven trucks including Brad Keselowski and former Daytona winner Rick Crawford – brought out the yellow flag and another three-lap shootout.

Now with King running second, Sauter restarted as the leader and held the top spot through the first lap-and-a-half before getting turned by King.

Sauter’s truck was unable to continue. He was credited with a 24th-place finish.

“I closed up on him real fast - I was in the tri-oval and I couldn’t get off of him,” said King. “I closed up on him too fast and just wrecked him. Just inexperience, rookie mistake. I apologize to him from the bottom of my heart.  It wasn't my intention at all.”

King’s apology did little to placate Sauter, who has now crashed out of the season opening race three times in the last four years.

“Am I surprised that I’m standing here with a 24th place finish? No,” said Sauter. “It just looks like (King) crossed over and he’s obviously getting help from the guy behind him - it’s probably (Todd) Bodine. He’s known for driving a little bit over his head at places like this.

“You could see that I tried to do everything right and I was getting pushed the opposite way.  Daytona’s been an Achilles heel for me -- for whatever reason it’s impossible for me to get to a finish so I had no expectations going into the race today.”

Bodine rallied in the closing laps to grab a sixth-place finish, followed by Chris Fontaine.

2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton - making his first NASCAR start since 2007 – came home eighth, while rookie Ty Dillon, younger brother of 2011 truck series champion Austin Dillon, was ninth. Clay Greenfield rounded out the top ten.

Results

1. (23) John King, Toyota, 109 laps, 74.8 rating, 47 points, $76,525.
2. (27) Timothy Peters, Toyota, 109, 74.9, 42, $49,490.
3. (15) Justin Lofton, Chevrolet, 109, 102.2, 41, $36,285.
4. (19) Travis Kvapil, Toyota, 109, 87.7, 0, $23,200.
5. (8) Jason White, Ford, 109, 113.5, 40, $23,550.
6. (10) Todd Bodine, Toyota, 109, 95.7, 38, $16,375.
7. (22) Chris Fontaine, Toyota, 109, 63.5, 37, $15,175.
8. (25) Ward Burton, Chevrolet, 109, 49.2, 36, $16,425.
9. (4) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 109, 75.8, 35, $15,425.
10. (26) Clay Greenfield, Ram, 109, 84.1, 34, $15,650.
11. (28) Parker Kligerman, Ram, 109, 57, 33, $14,325.
12. (21) Grant Enfinger, Ford, 109, 79.8, 32, $11,900.
13. (16) Dusty Davis, Toyota, 109, 83.9, 31, $11,800.
14. (12) Ron Hornaday Jr., Chevrolet, 109, 92.2, 30, $11,675.
15. (33) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 109, 84.9, 29, $14,900.
16. (35) Chris Cockrum, Chevrolet, 109, 37, 28, $13,625.
17. (3) James Buescher, Chevrolet, 109, 96.6, 28, $13,520.
18. (9) Joey Coulter, Chevrolet, accident, 108, 86.2, 26, $13,400.
19. (14) Paulie Harraka, Ford, 105, 52.4, 25, $13,300.
20. (11) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, accident, 104, 88.4, 0, $13,825.
21. (17) David Starr, Toyota, accident, 104, 50.1, 23, $10,850.
22. (2) Nelson Piquet Jr., Chevrolet, accident, 104, 71.7, 23, $13,000.
23. (30) Matt Crafton, Toyota, accident, 104, 40.4, 21, $12,875.
24. (20) Johnny Sauter, Toyota, accident, 104, 79.5, 21, $13,750.
25. (36) Rick Crawford, Chevrolet, accident, 101, 43.8, 19, $10,550.
26. (29) Max Gresham, Chevrolet, accident, 100, 75.6, 18, $12,550.
27. (5) Brad Keselowski, Ram, accident, 99, 77.9, 0, $10,175.
28. (24) Ross Chastain, Toyota, accident, 94, 45.3, 17, $12,325.
29. (32) Bryan Silas, Ford, accident, 93, 41.1, 16, $10,975.
30. (1) Miguel Paludo, Chevrolet, accident, 83, 104.2, 16, $13,675.
31. (34) T.J. Duke, Chevrolet, accident, 62, 36.9, 13, $9,825.
32. (7) Cale Gale, Chevrolet, accident, 61, 75.3, 12, $9,775.
33. (13) Mike Skinner, Chevrolet, accident, 61, 58.3, 11, $9,725.
34. (31) J.R. Fitzpatrick, Chevrolet, accident, 61, 40.3, 10, $9,670.
35. (18) Dakoda Armstrong, Toyota, accident, 33, 41.2, 9, $9,620.
36. (6) Jason Leffler, Toyota, accident, 17, 41.5, 8, $9,535.
___
Race Statistics
Average Speed of Race Winner: 119.169 mph.
Time of Race: 2 hours, 17 minutes, 13 seconds.
Margin of Victory: Under Caution.
Caution Flags: 9 for 37 laps.
Lead Changes: 11 among 8 drivers.
Lap Leaders: M.Paludo 1-20; B.Silas 21; M.Paludo 22-43; R.Chastain 44; M.Paludo 45-46; J.Buescher 47-54; M.Paludo 55-66; J.Buescher 67-68; N.Piquet Jr. 69-83; J.White 84-99; J.Sauter 100-103; J.King 104-109.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led): M.Paludo, 4 times for 56 laps; J.White, 1 time for 16 laps; N.Piquet Jr., 1 time for 15 laps; J.Buescher, 2 times for 10 laps; J.King, 1 time for 6 laps; J.Sauter, 1 time for 4 laps; R.Chastain, 1 time for 1 lap; B.Silas, 1 time for 1 lap.
Top 10 in Points: 1. J.King, 47; 2. T.Peters, 42; 3. J.Lofton, 41; 4. J.White, 40; 5. T.Bodine, 38; 6. C.Fontaine, 37; 7. Wa.Burton, 36; 8. T.Dillon, 35; 9. C.Greenfield, 34; 10. P.Kligerman, 33.

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