BROOKLYN, Mich. — report by Managing Editor Jacob Seelman for Race Chaser Online — NASCAR photo — Johnny Sauter used a gas-and-go pit stop with eight laps to go and then re-passed teammate Matt Crafton inside the final five laps to win Saturday’s Careers for Veterans 200 at the Michigan International Speedway.
There was only one caution in the race, and Sauter’s 161.087 mph average speed is the fastest in series history, breaking the 154.737 record he set in 2012 when he won at Texas.
The win, Sauter’s first since Talladega Superspeedway in 2013, also allowed him to take the series points lead by nine over Crafton.
“When I was out front leading, I could go where I wanted and do what I wanted,” Sauter said. “The last 40 laps of the race I was running wide open.”
“This is great, this is the thing we needed to swing it,” Sauter added after leading 21 laps in his 10th career series win. “We’ve been consistent. We finally got speed this weekend.”
Jeff Hensley replaced Dennis Connor as crew chief despite the fact Sauter was second in the points standings. Sauter explaned after the race there were no hard feelings within the organization.
“It was just something we thought would make the whole organization stronger,” he said.
Hensley made his first race on the pit box a memorable one.
“I thought we could win, but I sure as heck didn’t think it would be the first time out,” he said.
Crafton was happy ThorSport — whose shop is based in nearby Sandosky, Ohio — had the top two spots – but was disappointed about his truck coming up one spot short.
“It was very eventful, without a doubt,” he said. “All in all, not a bad day. It’s nice to see ThorSport one-two. I just wish it was the other way around.”
Ryan Blaney, the points leader coming into the weekend and polesitter today at Michigan, lost six laps on pit road after both he and his teammate Joey Logano had splitter problems jsut past halfway. Blaney then came back to pit road with the hood up at lap 79 and could never recover. Blaney drops to third in the championship, 16 points in arrears.
Ron Hornaday, Tayler Malsam and five-time series winner this season Kyle Busch rounded out the top five. Malsam’s fourth place effort was his career best in the Truck Series.
Busch was in contention before he ran out of gas on Lap 52. He struggled to get the truck going again during his lengthy stop but rebounded for the top-five finish.
Darrell Wallace Jr., Busch’s teammate, had built a lead of nearly 10 seconds but ran out of gas on Lap 76 as he hit pit road. A lengthy stop as the engine struggled to re-fire doomed his chances of victory. The two-time winner in 2014 led a race-high 48 laps and finished 11th.
The race’s lone caution flew on lap 9 when Travis Kvapil’s engine grenaded down the backstretch and oiled down the track. Kvapil was filling in for John Wes Townley, who is still out of a race car after injuries sustained in a crash two weeks ago at Pocono.
Following the cleanup, the final 86 laps of the event ran green to checkered.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series now heads to the Bristol Motor Speedway Wednesday night for their annual mid-week night race, the UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP.