CLICK: Full race results and current Camping World Truck Series championship standings.
Johnny Sauter claimed his first win of the year after holding off his ThorSport Racing team mate Matt Crafton to the line, at the climax of what proved to be the fastest NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in the championship's history with an average speed of 161.110mph eclipsing the previous record of 154.737mph at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012.
Sauter had started from fifth place, while Ryan Blaney had taken pole for the Careers for Veterans 200 after a bizarre pole shootout round at Michigan International Speedway saw all 11 of his rivals fail to start their flying laps in time. Blaney posted a frankly academic final round qualifying effort of 41.582s (173.152mph) on the two-mile oval, while the grid order for the rest of the top 12 was set as per the previous round which put his Brad Keselowski Racing team mate Joey Logano alongside Blaney on the front row for the green flag on Saturday afternoon.
Blaney maintained the lead initially but then had to reclaim it from a flying Darrell Wallace Jr. who had started from fourth. Wallace's team mate and boss Kyle Busch was meanwhile having a bumpy start to proceedings with contact against the wall on lap 2 while battling Jeb Burton sending him down from ninth to 17th place, before racing was interrupted by what proved to be the only caution of the race on lap 8 for Travis Kvapil's terminal engine depositing fluid on the track. A large number of cars headed in for early pit stops, including Austin Dillon who was suffering from spark plug issues.
Wallace stayed out to lead the restart, joined on the front row by Timothy Peters who had also eschewed the appeal of an early pit stop. Peters was soon ousted from second spot by Busch, but Wallace was still showing good pace on his older tyres and able to continue out in front until his deferred pit stop on lap 38. That left Busch with a five second lead over the rest of the field represented by Ron Hornaday Jr., Johnny Sauter, Jeb Burton and Matt Crafton.
The halfway point of the 100-lap race was the signal for a new major round of pit stops, this time under green: Busch seemed to have pushed his stint one lap too far and struggled to refire the #51 after apparently running dry leaving him rejoining the race down in 12th place, but his team mate Wallace had meanwhile cycled back to the front with an eight second lead over Peters, Sauter, Hornaday and Crafton.
While Busch was working his way forward, there were frustrating times for the two Brad Keselowski Racing drivers who had started on the front row; pole sitter Blaney had been struggling with a progressively tight truck and a disintegrating front end that left him on pit road with the hood up, while his team mate Logano had dropped back early in the race complaining with problems with the right-front of the #19 and later suffered similar front end and splitter issues to Blaney that left him likewise multiple laps off the lead.
Back on the track, everyone had one more stop to make: Peters was in on lap 76 and was joined on pit road by Wallace, who duplicated his team boss's mistake of going one lap too far and ran dry as a result, losing him a lap. All of this attrition meant that by lap 84 only nine of the 29 trucks that had started the race were still on the lead lap, with Sauter able to pull out a second over Hornaday before his own final visit to pit road on lap 92 for a fuel-only stop. By the time the final splash-and-dash stops had played out, Sauter was back out in front and his ThorSport Racing team mate Crafton had emerged into second ahead of the Turner Scott Motorsports duo of Ron Hornaday and Tayler Malsam, while Kyle Busch was now over ten seconds back from the leader and out of laps to make a race-winning recovery.
Sauter managed to hold off a final charge from Crafton to claim the chequered flag, his first win of the season and his 10th victory in 142 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races, the last being at Talladega last October.
Sauter has now won at least one race in six consecutive seasons, putting him within touching distance of the all-time series record of eight set by Dennis Setzer. Sauter's win at Michigan, coupled with Blaney's problems, mean that in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship standings Blaney drops out of the lead and down to third place behind Sauter and Crafton. However, just 16 points cover the lead trio and Hornaday is a mere three points further back in fourth place.
Full race results, plus qualifying and practice speeds and full Camping World Truck Series championship standings.