The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series stopped in Michigan for the Careers For Veterans 200 event Saturday. Johnny Sauter was the star of the show, with an impressive victory that saw him lead 21 of the 100 laps and rack up 47 points in the standings in his first win of the year, via NASCAR's official Twitter account:
More importantly for Sauter, the victory moved him to the top of the Truck Series standings, via John Casper of the Winona Daily News:
Necedah native Johnny Sauter wins the Truck Series race in Michigan and takes over the series points lead. Used to race @LaxSpeedway.— John Casper Jr. (@johncasperjr) August 16, 2014
Sauter's first win of the season couldn't have come at a more opportune time, with just 10 races left to go. There was more good news from a team standpoint, per Mark Hazelwood of the Sandusky Register, with ThorSport Racing claiming the top two spots on Saturday:
|1||Johnny Sauter||ThorSport Racing|
|2||Matt Crafton||ThorSport Racing|
|3||Ron Hornaday Jr.||Turner Scott Motorsports|
|4||Tayler Malsam||Turner Scott Motorsports|
|5||Kyle Busch||Kyle Busch Motorsports|
|6||German Quiroga Jr.||Red Horse Racing|
|7||Timothy Peters||Red Horse Racing|
|8||Jeb Burton||ThorSport Racing|
|9||Joey Coulter||GMS Racing|
|10||Joe Nemechek||NEMCO Motorsports|
Full results can be found at NASCAR.com by clicking here
|5||Darrell Wallace Jr.||412||2||4|
Full points standings can be found at NASCAR.com by clicking here
In addition to being a banner day for Sauter, it was also a record-setting day for the NASCAR Truck Series, as noted by the series' official Twitter page:
We set a record today for fastest race in #NASCAR Camping World Truck Series history - avg speed of 161.087 mph. Old record was 154.737 mph.— NASCAR Trucks (@NASCAR_Trucks) August 16, 2014
The race was over in a flash, starting around 12:30 p.m. ET and wrapping up around 2 p.m., so you could tell that the pace was very quick right out of the gate.
The battle for the top spot was intense virtually all race, with Sauter and Matt Crafton duking it out. It wasn't until near the end, when Crafton had to pit, as noted by ThorSport Racing's Twitter, that a leader emerged:
Lap 97: We're looking at an intense final few laps between ThorSport Racing teammates Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton. #NASCAR— NASCAR Trucks (@NASCAR_Trucks) August 16, 2014
Moving down the standings, Ron Hornaday had another close-but-no-cigar finish. The 56-year-old hasn't won a Truck Series race since 2011 in Las Vegas. He came close again Saturday with a third-place finish and was close to Sauter with less than 20 laps to go.
Sticking with the Turner Scott Motorsports team, Tayler Malsam had a strong run that led to a terrific finish. His pit crew did strong work all day, especially on the last stop to make a final push, as you can see from his official Twitter account:
Ryan Blaney, who entered the weekend with the points lead and started on the pole, had a brutal day on the track. He finished 21st, falling to third in the standings. The Fox Sports: NASCAR Twitter feed noted that his crew was trying to fix a problem with his car:
The driver showed his frustration on Twitter after the race was over, though he tried to stay positive by looking ahead to the future:
The positive for Blaney is that he's still well within shouting distance of Sauter and Crafton at the top of the points standings and has plenty of time to make up 16 points. But he is one of only two drivers in the top five without a victory this year, so his grasp on the leaderboard is tenuous.
There are currently five drivers within 45 points of Sauter, and the final 10 races of the season are going to be just as dramatic as Saturday's race at Michigan.
Sauter won't have much time to admire his victory since the next NASCAR Truck Series race is August 20 at Bristol Motor Speedway. But the boys will have plenty of rest after Wednesday's race, with 11 days off before ending the month with the Chevrolet Silverado 250 on August 31.
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