By Caleb Slouha
Johnny Sauter came back from a setback to win at Texas in the WinStar World Casino 400. After getting the black flag on the last lap last year, Sauter was determined to get a win that would be in the books this year.
Justin Lofton started on the pole because qualifying was rained out, and the field was set by owner’s points. As soon as the green flag dropped, Lofton checked out, with Timothy Peters following in second place. The first caution came out on lap 4 when John Wes Townley got loose and hit the wall on the front stretch. On the restart, Lofton got out front, but not as much as he did at first. Timothy Peters stayed with him, and they raced cleanly.
Caution No.2 came out on lap 30, when Todd Bodine’s engine had a part get loose, and the engine locked up. Bodine had previously won four out of the last six June Truck races at Texas. On this pit stop, Sauter, who worked on getting up to the top 5, has a slow pit stop, which sends him back to 10th.
The next restart, Ty Dillon leads them to the restart and obtains the lead. Dillon leads for a short time as the next caution comes out at lap 46 when Paulie Harraka makes contact with Ricky Crawford. Timothy Peters gets the Lucky Dog.
Restart on lap 51, James Buescher takes the lead from Ty Dillon. And on lap 56, Sauter takes the lead and starts to pull away. He keeps the lead until the caution comes out on lap 73, when Paulie Harraka and Max Gresham make contact right in front of Sauter, making him brake hard, but Sauter never hit anything.
Jason White took 2 tires, and was first off pit road. Sauter has another bad pit stop, and gets sent to the rear of the top 10 once again. Four laps after the restart, Buescher takes the lead from White and keeps space between him and the rest of the field.
On lap 91, yet another caution comes out for debris on the back stretch. Pit stops were made and Justin Lofton leads them to the green flag. Buescher later gets the lead when Lofton has to make his pit stop. On lap 137, Bryan Silas got spun going into turn 3 and slid down to the infield wall, then the caution came out. On this restart, Dillon leads the field, but when Buescher tries to take the lead, Dillon gets rough. He makes contact with Buescher, sending both of them sideways and Buescher hits the wall with 30 to go.
The green is in the air again with Matt Crafton crossing the line first, and 23 to go. Johnny Sauter is now inside the top five. Green flag stays out for the rest of the race, Sauter gets up to second, and with 21 to go he takes the lead on the backstretch, never looking back. Sauter leads the last 20 laps, gaining two seconds of a lead. Sauter crossed the line first. Matt Crafton finishes second, Joey Coulter third, Brendan Gaughan and Nelson Piquet Jr. round out the top 5. After a rough start to the season, Sauter gets back to victory lane. This could be the turning point of Sauter’s season. The next Camping World Truck Series race is at Kentucky in three weeks.