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Keeping Pace

Johnny Sauter Breaks Through With First Truck Series Win

Johnny Sauter led a race-high 62 laps. He surrendered the lead to pit under caution on Lap 120 to take right-side tires and emerged in fourth behind Matt Crafton, Jason White and Timothy Peters, who all stayed out.

Courtesy: NASCAR Media Relations

By Tim Tuttle
Special to Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

LAS VEGAS — Johnny Sauter drove to his first victory Saturday in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and ThorSport Racing teammate Matt Crafton was second in the Las Vegas 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Sauter, a rookie in the trucks who has three wins in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, passed Crafton for the lead on the outside exiting Turn 2 on the 130th of 146-laps on the 1.5-mile track and steadily pulled away to win by 2.47 seconds.

“It’s unbelievable, man,” Sauter said. “This is a big deal for me. Last year at this time, all I was doing was start-and-parks in the Nationwide Series. We’ve had speed all year, but we haven’t been able to close the deal. Our truck has been phenomenal for the last two months.”

Sauter, driving a Chevrolet, became the first rookie to win in the truck series since Scott Speed on May 30, 2008, at Dover International Speedway.

It was Sauter’s fifth straight top-five finish and lifted him two spots to fifth in the points. Sauter’s best finish in the opening 15 races was fifth at Dover. His newfound competitiveness in the past five races began with the arrival of crew chief Joe Shear, who Sauter had worked with earlier in his career.

“I believe in him and I trust him 100 percent,” Sauter said.

Sauter’s win was the third victory in the series for ThorSport, owned by Duke and Rhonda Thorson and based in Sandusky, Ohio. ThorSport is one of the few truck teams not based in the Charlotte, N.C. area.

Crafton, who gave the team its second victory last season, cut 20 points from leader Ron Hornaday Jr., but still trails by 197 with five races remaining. Hornaday finished sixth.

“It was a decent points day, but the thing that makes me happy is finishing 1-2 for Duke and Rhonda Thorson,” Crafton said. “It’s the first time we’ve finished 1-2.”

Jason White finished third, a career-best in the series. Todd Bodine was fourth and Timothy Peters fifth.

Sauter led a race-high 62 laps. He surrendered the lead to pit under caution on Lap 120 to take right-side tires and emerged in fourth behind Crafton, White and Peters, who all stayed out. Following the restart, Sauter climbed into the lead in eight laps and led the final 17, all run under green.

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Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.

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