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Trucks: Sauter back in form at Texas

Johnny Sauter claimed victory in the NASCAR Camping World Truck championship, putting memories of a 2011 mishap and a poor start to the 2012 season firmly in the rear view mirror.
While the Cup teams were at Pocono, the NASCAR Camping World Truck series drivers were at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend for the WinStar World Casino 400 acting as a companion race to the IZOD IndyCar Series which runs the Firestone 550k on Saturday night.

With the Cup drivers others preoccupied elsewhere, it gave Johnny Sauter the perfect opportunity to lay to rest the ghosts of 2011 when he was set for a shoot-out to the chequered flag with Ron Hornaday Jr. only to get black-flagged for changing lane too soon and sent to the back of the field - finishing a bitterly disappointing 22nd that time.

"Last year was really tough to swallow coming down to a late-race restart, but I broke the rules," said Sauter, who added that it made this year's win all the greater for him. "There's no sweeter vindication," he beamed this time around when he made it into victory lane. "This one is going to rank right up there."

After qualifying had been washed out and the starting order set by owner points, championship leader Justin Lofton had led from pole position for the first 26 laps. James Buescher and Ty Dillon then took over vying for the lead for a while and it wasn't until lap 51 after third caution of the day that Sauter led for the first time.

The 167-lap two-hour race saw seven cautions resulting in 32 laps run under yellow. Two of those were for debris, while a third was for fluid on track from the broken oil pump of Todd Bodine on lap 33. There was a third caution on lap 47 for an involving Paulie Harraka and Rick Crawford, after which Sauter was able to take the lead. Harraka was able to continue from that incident but was then involved in a second accident that also caught up Max Gresham, and a slow pit stop under the ensuing caution dropped Sauter back to 9th.

Series rookie Bryan Silas also spun out on the backstretch on lap 129 to bring out another caution - catching out Justin Lofton who was on pit lane at the time - while the final yellow came on lap 139 sparked by slight contact between Ty Dillon and James Buescher while the two were contesting the lead put the latter into the wall at turn 1.

That late final caution put Dillon into recovery mode (he finished 7th) and Buescher down in a disappointing 15th place by the chequered flag. Moreover it left Matt Crafton in the lead at the restart with Johnny Sauter just behind him on the second row in fourth when the green flag came out, giving Sauter all the incentive he needed to make sure that he followed the rules, nailed the restart and took the lead two laps later, maintaining that position to the finish to claim his fifth series win.

The victory is not before time, after a string of ill fortune and poor finishes so far in 2012 meant that he hadn't even led a lap this year until Friday. "The way this season's gone has been very trying. I'm trying to keep everything in perspective," he said. "The season we've had this year has been bad luck after bad luck."

So what was different at Texas? Sauter gave the credit to his ThorSport pit crew and to crew chief Joe Shear

"The driver's only a small part of the equation. That truck could pretty much drive itself," Sauter insisted. "This track really puts an emphasis on handling. We just hit the setup right. Joe did a great job; right off the truck we were at the top of the board. We passed a million trucks, it seemed like tonight."

If Sauter's hoping that it will kick-start his 2012 championship campaign, then he had something of a mountain to climb: he's still 90pts off the leader Justin Lofton, who struggled back to 9th place after getting caught out in the pits during the penultimate caution to preserve a 5pt lead over Timothy Peters in the Truck series standings.

Full race results and practice times available along with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship standings.



Related Pictures

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Ty Dillon (#3) and James Buescher scrape the outside wall after colliding in a contest for the lead in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series` WinStar World Casino 400 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 8, 2012. Both continued with Dillon finishing seventh, Buescher 15th. (Photo Credit: By Jonathan Ferrey, Getty Images)
Johnny Sauter kicks off the Victory Lane celebration after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series` WinStar World Casino 400 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 8, 2012. (Picture Credit: By Chris Graythen, Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow Chevrolet, spins out after an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, leads the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Fisher Nuts/Menards Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Fisher Nuts/Menards Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Fisher Nuts/Menards Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Fisher Nuts/Menards Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ben Kennedy, driver of the #11 Local Motors Toyota, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, driver of the #60 Kellogg/Cheez-It Ford, races Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 ENEOS Chevrolet, and Ryan Reed, driver of the #16 Lilly/American Diabetes Association Ford, during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Alert Today Florida 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 21, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Daniel Suarez, driver of the #18 ARRIS Toyota, Carlos Contreras, driver of the #15 BurnieGrill/BubbaGrill/LillyTrucking Chevrolet, Landon Cassill, driver of the #01 Flex Seal Chevrolet, and Blake Koch, driver of the #8 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Toyota, are involved in an on-track incident during qualifying for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Alert Today Florida 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 21, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Ty Dillon, driver of the #33 Rheem/Gemaire Chevrolet, and Travis Kvapil, driver of the #94 Chargebacks 911 Chevrolet, lead the field to the green flag for the running of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
An on track-incident collects a pack of trucks during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Racing during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tyler Reddick, driver of the #19 DrawTite Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tyler Reddick, driver of the #19 DrawTite Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tyler Reddick, driver of the #19 DrawTite Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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