They say 13 is an unluckly number, and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series uses that as a theme in one of its commercials to promote the series. In the commercial Johnny Sauter, driver of the No. 13 ThorSport Racing Toyota, is presented as an example of an exception to the rule. That hadn’t been the case in 2012, up to the point of Friday night’s WinStar World Casino 400 at Texas Motor Speedway. Despite running well, it seemed as if something always happened to the driver of the No. 13 to take him out of contention race after race. Maybe No. 13 was unlucky after all.
Sauter was forced to start 20th on Friday night when the starting grid was set on truck owner points when rain cancelled the qualifying session scheduled for Thursday evening.
But Sauter looked to turn his luck around at Texas, making his way through the field multiple times and missing a wreck that happened right in front of him, en route to his first win of the season.
“To come out here this year and for qualifying to get rained out and the season that we’ve had up ’til this point, it’s been bad luck after bad luck,” Sauter said.
Sauter came close to winning at Texas last year, crossing the start/finish line first on the last lap, but he was black-flagged for jumping a late-race restart, and as a result, Ron Hornaday took that win.
“There’s no sweeter vindication than — last year was really tough to swallow,” Sauter said. “Had the dominant truck and to come down to a late race restart like that and to, whatever — rules are rules and I broke a rule. That was tough to swallow.”
After Justin Lofton and Timothy Peters started the race on the front row, and James Buescher made his way to the front to take command of the race, Sauter got his No. 13 to the front for the lead on lap 55. He avoided the wrecking trucks of Paulie Harraka and Max Gresham a few laps later, only to see his truck shuffled back to ninth for the restart after a round of yellow-flag pit stops.
Meanwhile, Jason White got off pit road first to restart with the lead after taking only two tires. White held the lead until Buescher reassumed the top spot on lap 82.
Lofton stayed out while everyone else pitted when another caution came out for debris around lap 95. When the race went back to green, he sailed out to a rather large lead, looking to be in the cat bird seat. Lofton still needed to make one more pit stop before the end of the race, but so did everyone else.
Lofton headed down pit road for service with 42 laps to go, but the yellow flag waved while he was in the pits, catching him a lap down. He took the wave around to get back on the lead lap while the rest of the race field pitted, but he lost too much track position to still be in contention for the win.
Ty Dillon and Buescher got out of the pits first and second to restart the reace on the front row. After several laps of racing side-by-side for the lead, the two drivers made contact and each scraped the wall, handing the lead over to Matt Crafton and second to Brendan Gaughan.
Sauter made his way to second on the restart that followed the Dillon-Buescher caution and the two ThorSport Racing teammates (Sauter and Crafton) raced for the win. With 22 laps to go, Sauter got by his teammate for the lead and never looked back.
“It was a bit too much,” Crafton said of the late-race adjustment to his truck. “I screamed a little bit tight on the run before that on that real long run, we got a little bit too tight and went up a little bit on the right rear air pressure.”
Crafton finished second.
“The ThorSport organization is awesome,” Crafton said.
Richard Childress Racing teammates, Joey Coulter and Gaughan, finished third and fourth, and Nelson Piquet Jr. rounded out the top-five.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
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