With the same team but a new number, Johnny Sauter drove to his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway on Friday in the Nextera Energy Resources 250. It was the seventh-consecutive Daytona truck win for Toyota, and the 100th, overall, for the manufacturer.
“I’m just so proud of this team,” Sauter said after driving his newly-numberd 98 truck to victory lane.
Toyota also claimed second with Kyle Busch claiming his third second-place finish in the annual Daytona series season opener.
“We would’ve had a really good race if it had been 100 laps, but it was 99,” Busch said, frustrated by the caution flag that brought an end to the racing action.
The yellow flag came out six times in the race, the last time being on the final lap for a multi-truck wreck as the leaders headed toward the checkered flag.
Ty Dillon dominated the first half of the race, claiming the top spot on lap six and staying up front until Sauter moved into the lead on a restart following a caution that came out for a wreck that involved more than 10 trucks on lap 54 of the 100-lap event.
“I screwed up,” Brendan Gaughan said of the incident. “I got myself back there messing up on pit road. It was my fault, because I had a rookie on one side and another rookie on the other.”
Other drivers caught up in the crash included German Quiroga, Brennan Newberry, Ryan Truex and John King.
After claiming the lead just passed the middway point of the race, Sauter continued to run up front until Dillon moved back into the lead with 39 laps to go. Busch then claimed second.
Todd Bodine, carrying Sauter’s old No. 13, inherited the lead when he stayed out during a caution while others topped off their fuel tanks. But with about 25 laps to go, Busch got by Bodine for the top spot. Busch continued to lead, but the ThorSport teammates of Sauter and Bodine drafted their way back toward the front as a third teammate, Matt Crafton, fell off the pace and headed down pit road because of a tire issue.
Sauter and Bodine restarted first and second after the fifth caution of the race that came out with nine laps to go when Truex suffered a tire issue mid-pack and collected the trucks of Timothy Peters and John Wes Townley.
“Tonight, it was all about track position, and I thought we were in trouble,” Sauter said. “We were about 14th with 30 laps to go.”
Sauter was able to hold his position, as Bodine got caught up in the middle and lost several positions. By the time the yellow and then checkered flags waved to end the race, Bodine had made his way back up to 11th.
Ron Hornaday finished third, Justin Lofton was fourth, and Jeb Burton fifth. Dillon finished sixth, Miguel Paludo was seventh, Ryan Blaney eighth, Crafton ninth and Ryan Sieg rounded out the top-10.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR