FORT WORTH, Texas — NASCAR Camping World Truck Series point leader James Buescher wanted to drive smart in Friday night’s WinStar World Casino 350.
What he couldn’t control was what happened around him.
The Plano native, who led 31 laps, finished 11th in the race won by Johnny Sauter as he wasn’t able to overcome contact that damaged his No. 31 Great Clips Chevrolet on the second restart at Texas Motor Speedway.
The incident cost Buescher some of his lead as Ty Dillon finished fifth and trimmed Buescher’s lead to 15 points with two races remaining in front of 55,000 at Buescher’s home track.
It didn’t have to be that way but a slow restart by Cale Gale ended up costing Buescher.
“The 33 (Gale) took two tires, spun the tire on the restart and I got damage,” said Buescher, whose right rear fender was hit by Matt Crafton’s No. 88 Toyota. “The truck flipped a switch and I was tight the rest of the night. We didn’t want to put ourselves in any bad spots but we got put in bad spots.”
The incident put Buescher behind the rest of the contenders and he finished as the last truck on the lead lap. There were no cautions after the incident so Buescher’s team didn’t have any time to work on his truck. The race matched a track record for fewest cautions with two and set a record for fewest caution laps with eight.
“We gained bunch of points last week (at Martinsville) and gave some back today,” Buescher said. “It was three steps forward and one step back. If we can make bigger steps forward than we do backwards, we can still win this championship.”
There will be no championship run for Sauter and his No. 13 Seal Master/Curb Records Toyota. He’ll have to settle for being the 2012 TMS track champion.
Sauter won the June race at the track and became just the third NCWTS driver to sweep the races at TMS.
Sauter ran up front throughout the race but didn’t take the lead for good until he went inside Parker Kligerman with 11 laps to go. Kligerman took two tires on the last restart and was no match for Sauter at the end as Sauter won by 2.199 seconds in the race that averaged a series record 154.737 mph.
Sauter, who remained ninth in points after leading 28 laps Friday, has two victories this season and both of them have come at TMS in the same truck.
“We hit on something there at the very end and the truck just came to life,” said Sauter, who started 13th. “I’m proud of my team. When you’ve had things like this year, freak things break, or whatever the circumstance was, it’s easy to get down. You’ve just got to stay positive and I’ve got a really good group of guys.”
Nelson Piquet Jr. finished third after leading a race-high 65 laps.