Sauter edges teammate Crafton in Truck Series duel (VIDEO)
Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway came down to a fuel mileage between ThorSport Racing teammates Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton, with Sauter taking the win.
Saturday's Careers for Veterans 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway came down to a late-race fuel mileage duel between ThorSport Racing teammates Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton.
Both making late-race pit stops for fuel only, Sauter was able to edge past his teammate as Crafton left pit road with just four laps to go. While there were still concerns if both trucks could make it to the finish, Sauter was able to make it last to score his first victory of the season and take the points lead.
"When I came off Turn 4 and I was looking down pit road, because first of all (crew chief Jeff Hensley) told me the 88 (Crafton) wasn't going to pit,"said Sauter. "Then a couple of laps later they said he's coming to pit road. I thought, ‘OK, I don't know exactly where he's going to come out.'
"But as I was coming off Turn 4 I could look down pit road and see what was going on. As I was creeping toward the restart line, I could see him kind of light the tires up like he was leaving pit road. I thought, ‘Oh boy, I've got a long way to go and a short time to get there.'
"I couldn't push any harder, that's for sure," he said. "I knew once we got toward Turn 1 and he was still on the apron, I thought I was going to have enough time to clear him, but as we got to Turn 2 I wasn't so sure. Just a great truck. I think we had a little better truck at the end of the race there. I could pretty much whatever I wanted to."
Working his first race with new crew chief Jeff Hensley, Sauter said the team "nailed it" on pit road throughout the day with great stops and solid strategy.
For Crafton, the fuel mileage gamble was too close to try and make it to the end of the race.
"The team said after the race, ‘Sorry, we should have tried to make it.' But, we were just on the order of making it or not making it and it was a tough call,"said Crafton. "At the same time, where we are in the points, if we would have been fifth, sixth, or seventh in points -- we could have rolled the dice and just go for the win. All in all, not a bad day."
The ThorSport Racing teammates swept the first two spots, followed by Ron Hornaday Jr., Tayler Malsam, Kyle Busch, German Quiroga, Timothy Peters, Jeb Burton and Joey Coulter.
Brad Keselowski Racing teammates Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney came into Saturday's race at Michigan with high hopes. Team owner Brad Keselowski's foundation was the presenting sponsor of the race, and the two trucks swept the front row.
However, once the race got underway, things did not go as planed for Logano and Blaney. Struggling to find long-run speed, the two trucks fell back in the pack, but the problems were far from over.
Just past the 50-lap mark, Logano hit pit road with a broken splitter and the nose beginning to separate from the truck. The team went to work taping up the nose and sent him back on the track.
A handful of laps later, it was Blaney that hit pit road for the same issue. Much like Logano, the team did its best make repairs, but their chance at victory was gone.
In the end, Logano would finish 18th, while Blaney finished 21st.
With Blaney's poor finish, he dropped two spots in the standings to third, as Sauter and Crafton leap-frogged him to take first and second.
One of the fastest trucks of the weekend, Kyle Busch's day was certainly not without its challenges. Starting from the 11th spot, Busch had moved his No. 51 Toyota up to the ninth spot on the first lap, but made contact with the outside wall the following lap. Dropping back to 17th, Busch then went to work making his way back to the front of the field.
Taking the lead for the first time on Lap 38, Busch hit pit road under green on Lap 53, but was out of fuel. Coasting to his pit stall, the team went to work pitting the car and attempting to re-fire the engine. After a lengthy stop, Busch cycled through in the 12th spot, and once again had to drive from mid-pack to the front.
Just like his Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate, Darrell Wallace Jr. ran out of fuel while leading on Lap 76. Also like Busch, the team struggled to get the engine running, and Wallace Jr. dropped to 16th, one lap down to the leaders.
Busch would recover to finish fifth, while Wallace Jr. crossed the line 11th, one lap down to the leaders.
Travis Kvapil had a strong run going in the opening laps, as he was filling in for John Wes Townley, who was injured in an ARCA wreck at Pocono. Running in third, Kvapil's day came to an abrupt end on Lap 8 when the motor in the No. 05 Toyota blew.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action on Wednesday night at the short track at Bristol Motor Speedway.