Sauter survives last-lap crash to win Talladega truck race
Talladega, AL (SportsNetwork.com) - Johnny Sauter avoided a huge crash on the frontstretch during the final lap to win Saturday's Camping World Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
The 250-mile truck race concluded in a wild finish when a trio of two-truck tandems ran side-by-side for the lead during the last three laps. An accident on the backstretch on lap 88 set up a three-lap shootout to the finish.
Ross Chastain led the way on the final lap, but Sauter had his ThorSport Racing teammate and current points leader Matt Crafton push him ahead of Chastain just before the 12-truck wreck. It occurred when pole sitter Jeb Burton was hit from behind and got into Kyle Busch, sending Busch hard into the inside retaining wall and then the outside wall. Miguel Paludo's truck flipped upside down and then slid down the tri-oval before it turned back up.
All drivers involved in the incident except Justin Lofton were released from the track's infield medical care center. Lofton was transported to a nearby hospital for further evaluation.
Busch slowly climbed out of his heavily damaged truck and sat against the outside wall to catch his breath. He is starting 27th in Sunday's 500-mile Sprint Cup Series race here, which is the sixth round in the championship Chase.
"I just hate it," Busch said. "That was one of our best superspeedway trucks, but it's wrecked now. It's unfortunate."
Sauter claimed his third victory of the season and the ninth of his truck career. He won the first two races this season -- Daytona and Martinsville. The series heads to Martinsville next weekend.
"Like any other restrictor-plate race, it's pretty crazy and you just never know what to expect," Sauter said. "I studied the video from last year's race. We finished second. I watched it pretty hard, and I kind of had a plan on what we needed to do all day long. It actually worked out better this time, because teammate Matt Crafton was there the whole time."
Just before they reached the finish line, Crafton was running right behind Sauter, but Chastain bumped Crafton from behind and spun him around. He ended up finishing ninth.
"I don't know why the 19 (Chastain) came up and got me on the left-rear corner panel," Crafton said. "I don't know if someone hooked him and it turned him. I thought I had something there for Sauter at the end."
David Starr finished second, while Chastain crossed the line in third. Parker Kligerman, who won this race one year ago, and Dakoda Armstrong completed the top-five.
"The 20 (Kligerman) came off my bumper right in the center of the tri-oval, and when he did that, it loaded up air on my spoiler and pulled me right," Chastain said. "I had the wheel turned left. I thought I would be okay but knew I wasn't going to win at that point. But then I got turned. I don't know if the 20 got wedged between me and somebody else."
Timmy Hill, John Wes Townley and Max Gresham finished sixth through eighth, respectively, while Busch wound up in 10th.
There were two other major wrecks in this race as well. Six drivers, including Timothy Peters, were involved in a crash in turn 3 on lap 66. Peters won the most recent truck race on Sept. 28 at Las Vegas. James Buescher was among those caught up in a five-truck accident on lap 80. Buescher entered this race second in the point standings.
This event also featured a track record 29 lead changes among 13 drivers.
Crafton increased his points lead to 57 over Ty Dillon, who moved up to second following his 14th-place finish. Dillon led the most laps with 26. Buescher is now 58 points out of the lead. There are four races remaining.
10/19 20:32:24 ET