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NASCAR Trucks Michigan: Speedy Sauter's first win of 2014

ThorSport Racing's Johnny Sauter clinched victory in the Michigan Truck Series race after problems for his chief rivals cleared the way.
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.



Related Pictures

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Johnny Sauter, driver of the #98 Nextant/Curb Toyota, leads a pack of trucks during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Careers For Veterans 200 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Johnny Sauter, driver of the #98 Nextant/Curb Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Careers For Veterans 200 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #20 Hisense Toyota, and Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, lead the field to start during the NASCAR XFINITY Series ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway on April 24, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #20 Hisense Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway on April 24, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #20 Hisense Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway on April 24, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, celebrates after winning the Coors Light Pole Award for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 24, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, celebrates after winning the Coors Light Pole Award for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 24, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, qualifies for sixth position Friday, April 24, 2015 for Saturday evening`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. Truex, Jr. is third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, qualifies for third position Friday, April 24, 2015 for Saturday evening`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. Busch is 22nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Wix Chevrolet SS, finishes in fifth place and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS, finishes in seventh place Sunday, April 19, 2015 in the rain delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, leads the field in a restart during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, has an on track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, is involved in an on track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, and Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Autotrader Ford, sit on the apron after an on track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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