Dallas Motorsports: Johnny Sauter
Last year, TMS did not give Sauter the sweetest memories. He was penalized late in the race, costing him a victory.
“It was tough to swallow,” he said of last year’s race. “To come out here and with qualifying raining out and the season that we’ve had up to this point, it’s just been bad luck after bad luck.
“To start the race in 20th and to ultimately drive to the lead and overcome some obstacles tonight, I couldn’t be prouder.”
Sauter, driver of the No. 13 Hot Honeys/Curb Records Toyota, took his second lead of the night following the sixth caution that he would not relinquish in the final 22 laps.
The win was the fifth for Sauter in 93 series races, but it was his first victory of the season and his first win at TMS. However, Sauter does have success in Texas with six top-10 finishes at TMS.
“I’ve come here and been humbled when I left,” Sauter said of TMS. “It’s just a great race track, great atmosphere, great fans. … This race track has a lot of curveballs as far as grooves and bumps. It just has a lot of unique characteristics and puts an emphasis on handling.”
With the win, Sauter moved up two spots to No. 15 in the series point standings.
Next up, Sauter and the series head to Kentucky for the UNOH 225 on June 28.
What it means: Sauter entered the weekend 17th in the series point standings, but a big win at TMS will give him a nice boost.
Sweet victory: Sauter wasn’t in control for much of the race, but his ability to hang around the top of the leaderboard paid off. He took his second lead of the night after the seventh and final caution and never looked back. The driver of the No. 13 NTS Inc. Chevrolet earned his first win of the season.
Buescher’s night: Plano native James Buescher was at the front of the pack nearly the whole race. A scuffle on Lap 138 ended his hopes for a win. He was in the lead on seven different occasions, but the bump in the wall made him fall to 15th place.
Starr ends strong: Irving native David Starr drove a safe and consistent race mostly in the middle of the pack. However, he made a move in the last 50 laps to finish in 13th place.
Bad luck for Lofton: Justin Lofton led for much of the race and had a sizeable lead at one point. But he lost his lead coming out of the fifth caution, putting him in the middle of the pack.
Cautions: There were seven cautions, and they all had a big impact. Buescher lost leads in three of the cautions, and none were more costly than the seventh caution during Lap 138. Buescher had just passed Ty Dillon, driver of the Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet, when Dillon lost control of his truck pushing Buescher, driver of the No. 31 Koike.com Chevrolet, into the wall.
Lead changes: There were 14 different lead changes during the race, and six different drivers held the leads.
What’s next: The IZOD IndyCar Series will take over Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. CST for the Firestone 550.
Driving the No. 13 Hot Honeys/Curb Records Toyota, Sauter battled up from starting 20th to take the lead from No. 88 Matt Crafton in the 146th lap. Sauter is trying for his first Truck Series win of the year.
Crafton, driving the ThorSport Racing Toyota, was able to take the lead in the 137th lap when No. 3 Ty Dillon nudged No. 31 James Buescher while the two were jockeying for first, causing both cars to spin out. Crafton began tenth and also has yet to win a Truck Series race this year.
Buescher, a Plano native, had just taken his sixth lead of the race when Dillon started to get physical with him. Dillon had already bested Buescher twice coming off pit row, thanks to superb work from his pit crew. Dillon and Buescher currently sit at ninth and 16th respectively.
No. 6 Justin Lofton, who started on the pole, fell back considerably coming off pit row during a caution. The driver of the CollegeComplete.com Chevrolet currently sits in 16th place.
The top five after 150 are Sauter, Crafton, No. 22 Joey Coulter, No. 2 Brendan Gaughan, and No. 18 Jason Leffler.
Lofton, driver of the No. 6 CollegeComplete.com Chevrolet, came out of pit road during the fifth caution of the night to claim the lead.
Joey Coulter, No. 22, holds second place, while Plano native James Buescher is currently in third. Buescher, driver of the No. 31 Koike.com Chevrolet, has been near the front of the pack for the whole race.
Rounding out the top-five are No. 3 Ty Dillon and No. 13 Johnny Sauter.
Irving native David Starr, driver of the No. 81 Build Your Future/Zachry Toyota, sits in 12th place.
NASCAR ruled Johnny Sauter came down in front of Hornaday’s lane as the caution flag was about to be removed on the frontstrech with three laps left. Sauter finished first but received a black flag for his action, giving Hornaday the victory.
“As soon as the green dropped, he turned into my lane," Hornaday said. "I was yelling, ‘He’s in my lane! Better stick by the rules, he’s in my lane!’
“I knew it from right there. If they hadn’t black-flagged him and gave it to him, I would’ve been fine with it either way. At that time, we had a second-place truck that put me in position to be there.”
*Sauter, who led for 19 laps, was furious coming off the track. While talking to the television’s sideline reporters about his thoughts on the decision, Sauter stood there silently for a moment and uttered, “God bless America.”
*It’s Hornaday’s third career win at Texas Motor Speedway. He swept the two NCWTS stops at TMS in 2008 -- the Silverado 350k and Sam’s Town 400. It’s his first victory and seventh top-10 finish this season. His last win came in October 2010 at Martinsville Speedway.
*Plenty of records were broken Friday. There were at TMS-record 10 caution flags totaling 46 laps, which tied for the most caution laps. Other records set include most leaders (11) and most lead changes (19).
*There were five cautions in the first 75 laps. Rookie Chase Mattioli spun out in the frontstretch on the 23rd lap. Brian Ickler and Todd Bodine went for a spin on Lap 52 as they came around Turn 2. Bodine’s car went in the garage and did not return, while Ickler finished fourth.
*Austin Dillon led a race-high 46 laps but finished 26th thanks to his involvement in two wrecks. The first came at Lap 90, when he crashed with Matt Crafton on the frontstretch. As he attempted to make up the ground he lost, he was involved in another accident with Steve Arpin on Lap 138 and never recovered. Dillon would not finish in the top 20.
*Pole Winner and Plano resident James Buescher finished in ninth place. Flower Mound native David Start was involved in an accident on Lap 68 and did not finish the race.
So let me give you a peek behind the curtain that is NASCAR Sprint Cup racing: Some drivers don't like other drivers.
That's the way it is, and that's the way it has always been. Even in recent years as NASCAR cracked down on the slightest indiscretion, some drivers still didn't like each other. But they couldn't tell you what they really thought less they be hauled into the big yellow truck and would come out about $10,000 lighter for their time.
But in this day of, "Have at it boys," you now are hearing what these guys have been saying under their breath the last few years.
In the first six races of the season, we've seen a major blow-up between Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski, along with some very strong words. We saw a confrontation between drivers in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series when Ron Hornaday and Johnny Sauter had a "discussion" on pit road after a race. We also saw the resumption of a feud between two former Cup series champions between Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth last weekend.
John Harrelson/Getty Images
Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth renewed their rivalry, which has been downright unfriendly in the past, with a last-lap bump last week at Martinsville.
The two drivers, both smack dab in the thick of the battle for this year's championship, have gone at it before. What is surprising is that the public image of the two is that they are relatively mild-mannered guys even though they had a series of run-ins in 2006.
Kenseth spun out Gordon at Bristol that year, costing Gordon a top-five finish. In a first for Gordon's storied career, the four-time champion furiously confronted Kenseth and angrily shoved him right in front of the network TV cameras. Gordon, nobody's fool, still wore his helmet.
Just a few months later, Gordon got even. As Kenseth appeared en route to victory at Chicagoland, Gordon spun him out to win the race.
The NASCAR suits made it clear to both drivers that they needed to steer clear of each other. And they did. As far as the public was concerned the 2006 feud was history.
But what we didn't know in the "Open-Your-Mouth-and-Get-Fined" era of NASCAR is that -- perhaps -- the feud still simmered. Quietly. Not in the media. But perhaps it still simmered.
Then last week it was, "Have at it boys." And they did.
Kenseth leaned on Gordon. Gordon pushed back. Neither won the race but nerves between the two were frayed, as illustrated by the out-of-character quotes from the two.
"Jeff is sneaky," Kenseth said. "He's good at that stuff. He comes away squeaky-clean all the time. That's about the third time he took me out of a top-three finish. I'm about tired of that. I pretty much forgot about it for the last couple of years, but he never gives me an inch.
"He wants me out of his way every time he's faster, and I get out of his way every times he's faster. But when it comes the other way around, he never wants to give anybody any room back."
Gordon obviously didn't see it that way.
"I made sure he didn't win the race," Gordon said. "The way he raced today I didn't think is the way I would have raced him. If somebody hits me, I'm going to him them. If a guy gives you a cheap shot like that, he doesn't deserve to win the race."
Wow. Those kinds of comments would have been non-existent -- or at least private -- in recent years. Now everybody gets to hear the dirty linen aired in public. It's as if NASCAR took the muzzle off.
Fascinating. Isn't it?