Sauter foils Burton’s storybook ending
Johnny Sauter ruined what could have been a storybook ending Saturday.
Sauter blew past Ward Burton’s son Jeb on a restart with 17 laps to go and rolled to victory in a 250-lap NASCAR Truck Series race, preventing rookie Burton from winning in just his second Truck at the Martinsville Speedway track an hour from his home town of South Boston, Va.
“We made a pit stop with about 100 to go,” Sauter said. “We came out 18th and I didn’t know how I was going to be aggressive and still conserve my tires. I went hard for about 20 laps and got in the top 10, rode a little and then started going hard with 50 to go. We started picking them off and got to the front. I can’t believe I did it.”
Burton, who led 154 laps and lost second place to Sauter’s teammate Matt Crafton in the last 10 laps, said that he abused his tires too much as he kept the lead with 50 laps to go.
“I went too hard, too fast,” Burton said. “I abused my right rear tire and that cost me the win. If I had saved my stuff, I think I could have held off Johnny but Matt probably would have gotten us because he had fresher tires.”
Sauter, who became the first driver in the series to win the first two races in a season since 2006, said that after getting into second place, he could tell that Burton’s truck was starting to slip.
“He was getting loose,” Sauter said. “He was coming off the corner at a 45-degree angle. I could have gotten him before the last caution and thought I might have missed my chance. I didn’t know if I could pass him on the outside on the restart. But, he slipped a little and I timed my move just right.”
Timothy Peters, another driver from the Danville area, and Darrell Wallace Jr. completed the top five. Bill Elliott’s son Chase was sixth.
Ryan Blaney wound up 16th after lining up 10th on the final restart.
Blaney, fell a lap behind early but got the free pass to get back on the lead lap, wasn’t happy after getting bounced around in the last 10 laps.
“Things don’t usually get that crazy,” Blaney said. “I don’t think I got around one car that hit me or blocked me. I guess that’s Martinsville racing but it is kind of ridiculous. You look at every single truck in here and they are torn to pieces. People say that’s racing but it’s not racing. It’s just running into each other.
The front of Blaney’s truck was mashed in as a result of the bumping and shoving,
“Everyone is running the same speed in the corner. So if a guy lets off his brakes 10 feet earlier, he’s going to get into the back of you. If I would have finished up front, I would be happier. Finishing with a torn up truck is not a good thing. Now, we’ll go to Rockingham next week where we can do some real racing.”
Clint Bowyer had the fastest lap in both practice sessions and had the best 10-lap average. Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Brian Vickers and Ryan Newman made up the rest of the top five in the first session. Pole winner Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Jeff Burton completed the top five in the second session.
If he wins today for the eighth time at Martinsville today, Jimmie Johnson knows where he will put the grandfather clock that serves as the trophy.
It will go with the six of the seven that Johnson has won.
“It will go in my warehouse,” Johnson said. “That’s what I call my man cave. That’s where I stuff stored from my racing career.
The other clock is in Johnson’s office.
“They don’t work,” Johnson said. “They don’t clang at the same time.”
Johnson ran into the back of Joey Logano when Logano slowed during one of the practice sessions, resulting in nothing more than cosmetic damage to both cars. ... The engine was changed in Danica Patrick’s car after practice.