Johnny Sauter, driver of the No. 13 Safe Auto/Curb Records/Riviera Hotel Chevy Silverado, ran a strong race at one of his strongest racetracks on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series circuit at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the Smith's 350. Under the desert sun, Sauter led 25 laps and sat heavily in the second position amidst a flurry of cautions, incidents and challenges for his eighth top five finish this season and third consecutive top five finish at Las Vegas.
Sauter was blessed by Vegas' own version of "Lady Luck" of sorts, when an early race incident damaged the bumper cover but team rallying and smart pitting got the 13 back into action under caution. Crew chief Joe Shear, Jr's decision to pit early helped Sauter gain track position later in the race - at a pivotal time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race schedule.
"The restarts there at the end absolutely killed us, and we definitely had something for Hornaday - we were running the fastest all day on timing and scoring - but we'll take a solid fourth place finish," said Sauter. "Our last adjustments tightened us up too much, so it was a tougher go, but we were able to pass for Bodine for the fourth spot. I'm proud of the guys, they did a lot to fix the truck there at the beginning after Carmichael got into us a little; and pit stops were fast all day. This was a solid run for us and a real points help."
Battling loose conditions most of the race, the 13 team battled through ten race cautions and restarts to power home in the fourth position at the checkered flag, just three spots from winner Ron Hornaday and two from teammate Matt Crafton. The 2009 race winner also encountered damage to the right front while going three wide at lap 66, driving hard through turns three and four. Under the race's last restart, Sauter was forced to the outside when the 17 spun his tires - relegating Sauter to the fifth spot behind Todd Bodine in the 5 truck. He was able to pass for fourth position with just four laps to go.
"I was hoping get to Victory Lane again here in Vegas, but it's okay, we literally beat the odds today. I can't believe we tore up our truck like that all day with incidents and still ended up as high as we did. That's a testament to how the guys set this truck up on my team. We were fast in race trim, fast in practice, fast off the hauler. I think we've got something for Dillon going into these last four races. This isn't our first rodeo."
Sauter sits just five points out of the lead in the heavy battle for the 2011 championship title. He also earned the Exide Start Positive, Stay Positive Award at the Smith's 350. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to the famous Talladega Superspeedway next week as the points battle continues.
ThorSport Racing PR