Johnny Sauter takes home the checkered flag
Johnny Sauter and ThorSport Racing teammate Matt Crafton gave the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series fans an exciting finish that came down right to the final few laps.
Sauter won the 15th Annual Careers for Veterans 200 presented by The Cooper Standard Foundation and Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation to take over the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points lead. Crafton finished a close second and moved into second in points on the season, just nine behind Sauter.
The teammates battled for the lead the final three circuits as the fans stood to watch the action at Michigan International Speedway.
Sauter’s 10th victory in his 142nd Camping World Truck Series race came at a record pace. The race average speed of 161.110 mph was the fastest in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series history. The previous record was 154.737 mph at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 2, 2012.
The outcome was very much in doubt with fewer than 10 laps remaining and both drivers needing a splash of fuel.
Sauter was the first to pit for a dash of gas. With four laps remaining Crafton made his quick fuel stop. Sauter was bearing down out of turn four high in the groove as Crafton filtered into the low blend lane while trying to pick up as much speed as possible.
Sauter had enough momentum to pass Crafton and maintain the lead to win by 0.433 seconds.
“I saw him (Crafton) when I was coming out of turn four,” Sauter said. “I was looking down pit road and I could see him. When I got to the restart line I could see smoke coming off his tires. At first I thought I had enough momentum to pass him, but then I wasn’t sure.”
Neither was Crafton.
“If I could have had another lap I might have been able to get up on his bumper to see what I could do,” Crafton explained. “It was not a bad day. It was good for ThorSport Racing, but I wish the finish could have been the other way around.”
Ron Hornaday, Jr., finished third followed by Tayler Malsam and Kyle Busch.
Ryan Blaney led the field to the green flag after using strategy to post the best speed in the final qualifying round. His teammate, Joey Logano recorded a track record lap of 187.647 in the second round of qualifying. That lap eclipsed the previous mark of 185.759 set last year by Jeb Burton.