Sauter, Allmendinger, Bayne wreck in first Budweiser Duel

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular Johnny Sauter was doing all he needed to race his way into Sunday’s Daytona 500, but that came to an end on Lap 28 of Thursday Budweiser Duel qualifying race.

Running in the 16th spot — the transfer position into the Daytona 500 — Sauter was on the outside of a three-wide situation with AJ Allmendinger in the middle and Aric Almirola on the inside.

As the field came off Turn 4 and headed toward the tri-oval, Sauter and Allmendinger made contact, sending Sauter’s No. 83 Toyota down the track and through the infield grass. Sliding back up the track, Sauter made heavy contact with the outside wall.

After making contact with Sauter, Allmendinger was sent down the track and into the side of Almirola’s No. 43 Ford.

Sauter immediately took his car to the garage, while Allmendinger’s JTG Daugherty Racing crew worked feverishly to repair the heavily damaged right front fender. Unfortunately, the team was unable to make repairs and Allmendinger’s car was towed behind the wall.

Almirola suffered only slight damage, brought his car to the attention of his crew and continued in the event.

For Sauter, his hopes of making the Daytona 500 are still alive, as he posted the 13th-fastest time in Sunday’s group qualifying session.

"Just riding along, trying to mind my business and the 47 (Allmendinger) just got us there in the left rear quarter panel," said Sauter. "That’s a bummer for these guys. We were on that catch 22 deal, do you stand on your speed and ride around the back, or do you try to race and get in the top 14. There was a lot of deliberating back and forth between us and all the guys at BK Racing. Just a bummer deal."

Allmendinger took blame for the incident and expressed his frustration with the style of racing at Daytona International Speedway.

"Just got stuck in the middle there and I probably moved up just a little bit and got the 83  (Sauter) or what happened, if I did it’s my apologies. It was just stuck trying to get out of the middle," said Allmendinger. "The car was fast. It just sucks. I hate this racing. I really do.

"Hopefully we’ll get into the (Daytona) 500," he said. "If we do, we’ll have a backup car. The guys will work hard. I was trying to do the right thing. I was trying to stay out of trouble and got put in the middle and I was trying to bail out of the middle. I didn’t want to be there. It’s too early for that."

With 10 laps to go, Roush Fenway Racing’s Trevor Bayne lost control of his No. 6 Ford as he drove into Turn 1 on the high side. Sliding down the track, Bayne made contact with Kyle Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet and bounced back up the track and into the outside wall. The contact sent Larson down into Ty Dillon, but both were able to hang on and continue.