The Frontstretch: Tracking the Trucks: O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 by Beth Lunkenheimer -- Monday May 3, 2010

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Tracking the Trucks: O'Reilly Auto Parts 250

Beth Lunkenheimer · Monday May 3, 2010

 

In a Nutshell: After a month off and an hour-long rain delay, Johnny Sauter took the checkered flag 5.032 seconds ahead of Ron Hornaday, Jr. to win the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 Sunday afternoon at Kansas Speedway. Sauter started third and remained inside the top 10 all afternoon on the way to his second career Truck Series victory, captured the day after his 32nd birthday. Todd Bodine, Brian Ickler, and Johnny Benson rounded out the top 5.

Who Should Have Won: Johnny Sauter. Sauter started third and led multiple times Sunday afternoon for a total of 101 laps. If there was any doubt the No. 13 Chevrolet was one of the two strongest trucks on the track, that was proven in the closing laps of the race when he pulled out to as much as a five-second lead over second place. And even though there were tense moments with the defending series champion, Sauter managed to keep his head and drive on to his first win this season.

Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race:

1. How did Johnny Sauter and Ron Hornaday, Jr. not wreck?

Following a red flag for severe thunderstorms that stopped this race for a little over an hour, the field finally took the green again on lap 120. After restarting fourth, Johnny Sauter wasted little time taking his No. 13 to the front. Further back, Ron Hornaday, Jr. restarted 12th after extensive work pulling sheet metal away from his left-rear tire, but found himself in second within eight laps of taking the green flag.

After one side-by-side attempt where Sauter managed to hold the top spot despite a strong challenge from Hornaday, Jr., the two found themselves together again while gaining on the rear of the field with just 13 laps remaining. Hornaday appeared to have a strong run on Sauter, but ran out of space on the track with Mario Gosselin and Norm Benning just ahead.

As a result, the No. 33 Longhorn Chevrolet got loose and made contact with Sauter’s No. 13, sending both drivers sideways. With both cars hitting a 45-degree angle almost instantaneously, disaster seemed ready to unfold; but in what will likely go down as two of the most incredible saves seen in quite some time, Sauter and Hornaday were able to take their trucks from a near-spin and straighten them out without even losing a position on the track. By then, it was apparent that Sauter held the edge although both did an amazing job to fix the issue.

Sauter had the assistance of the wall in setting his truck back in the right direction, while Hornaday wore his tires out just trying to keep the No. 33 Longhorn Chevrolet from spinning into the grass. Thanks to the large lead the two had built on Todd Bodine, Hornaday then managed to hold onto the second spot to match his best finish this season — he also finished second at Martinsville.

“I bet it looked pretty cool on TV. I couldn’t help but sit there and think as I was trying to save it… that darn Hornaday got me again within a month’s time,” Sauter said after the checkered flag flew. “But it all worked out. That was good for the fans.”

Hornaday echoed Sauter’s sentiments during his post-race press conference, saying, “You can’t tell me that Kansas didn’t like that one. I’m just glad we both didn’t wreck.”

The veteran moves put on by both drivers will likely make an extended stay in the Truck Series highlight reels for the remainder of the season.

2. How did Rick Crawford fare in his first race with Ray Hackett Racing?

When the Preliminary Entry List for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 came out, Rick Crawford’s No. 14 Circle Bar Racing Ford, a staple inside the series since the mid-1990’s, was missing. Two days later, the entry list was updated, and Crawford was listed behind the wheel of the No. 76 Superseal Ford for Ray Hackett Racing after sponsorship failed to materialize to keep CBR on the track. Superseal sponsored Ray Hackett Racing at Martinsville and Nashville previously, and Crawford was pleased to have a ride for Sunday afternoon’s race.

“While we continue to search for sponsorship that will allow the (No.) 14 Circle Bar Racing team to return to competition, I appreciate the opportunity to work with Hackett Racing this weekend,” Crawford said before the race. “Travis (Sharpe, crew chief) has assembled a solid crew of racers, and I’m looking forward to helping them baseline their Ford F-150 this weekend at Kansas.”

Pit strategy under the third caution moved Crawford up ten spots to fourth for the upcoming restart on lap 32. Just two laps later, the driver of the No. 76 Ford found himself side-by-side with then-leader Ron Hornaday, Jr. He got loose and had to chase his truck up the track, collecting Tayler Malsam.

Both trucks rolled down the banking into the field of oncoming traffic. Amazingly enough, Crawford’s No. 76 Ford caught just one truck, the No. 6 of Brian Rose, while most of the field managed to avoid the wreck. But the damage had been done, and Crawford was credited with a 31st-place finish after being unable to repair the RHR Chevy. Rose was also done after that wreck and finished 32nd.

It’s easy to say Rick Crawford would rather forget Sunday afternoon’s race, but considering the sponsorship struggles Circle Bar Racing has seen this season, it’s a safe bet he was just happy to have a truck to race. There is no word yet on whether the 51-year-old driver will be at Dover in this ride or anyone else’s.

Johnny Sauter came out on top at Kansas after some dramatic moments late in the race with Ron Hornaday, Jr. nearly sent both trucks to the infield on a tow truck.

Truck Rookie Report
2010 Rookie of the Year Candidates:
Brett Butler (No. 47)
Jennifer Jo Cobb (No. 10)
Austin Dillon (No. 3)
Justin Lofton (No. 7)
Dillon Oliver (No. 01)

No. of Rookies in the Race: 5

No. of Rookies to Finish in the Top 10: 1; Austin Dillon, finished sixth (career best)

Rookie Of The Race: Austin Dillon

Worth Noting / Points Shuffle:

Despite a disappointing 23rd-place finish, Timothy Peters remains atop the point standings, but his lead is down to just 22 over Todd Bodine, who moved up one spot. Aric Almirola dropped to third and sits 30 markers behind Peters, while defending series champion Ron Hornaday, Jr. moved up two spots to fourth. Race winner Johnny Sauter moved up nine spots and rounds out the top 5.

Matt Crafton dropped one position to sixth, and Jason White moved up one spot to seventh. Ricky Carmichael, who dropped one spot, and Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Austin Dillon, who jumped three spots, sit tied for eighth, 155 points behind Peters. Mike Skinner moved up three spots and rounds out the top 10.

Brian Ickler made his second career start with Kyle Busch Motorsports this weekend in place of team owner Kyle Busch, who won the Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway Saturday night. The driver of the No. 18 Toyota raced at or near the front all afternoon to score his fourth career top-5 finish and second with KBM Sunday afternoon.

James Buescher pulled double duty this weekend, but it wasn’t the typical Nationwide Series / Sprint Cup Series double dip that is most common. Instead, Buescher piloted the No. 1 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet for the Nationwide Series race Friday night at Richmond International Raceway, then went on to drive the No. 31 Wolf Pack Rentals Chevrolet for Turner Motorsports Sunday afternoon in the Camping World Truck Series race. The 20-year-old driver finished 12th Friday night, and would have finished inside the top 10 in the Truck Series race if he hadn’t run out of fuel with eight laps remaining. Instead, he was credited with a 16th-place finish, one lap down.

After making contact with Jennifer Jo Cobb, rookie Brett Butler spent some time on pit road for repairs to his No. 47 Fuel Doctor Chevrolet. While those repairs were ongoing, one of the crew members for the No. 47 team attempted to climb over the wall like he had many times before when his left knee gave out, and he was carted to the Infield Care Center. Following the conclusion of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250, Dave Mitchell of Rick Ware Racing reported on Twitter (@RickWareRacing) that the crew member had dislocated his knee, but was going to be just fine.

A mechanic’s lien has been filed against the contractor for Kyle Busch Motorsports by sub-contractor Paul Davis of Creative Carpets, LLC. Davis, along with four other contractors, claim they are owed hundreds of thousands of dollars for work done at the new headquarters for the team. (Author’s Note: For more information, click back for Tearing Apart the Trucks on Friday.)

Quotable:

“That was awesome. I can’t say enough about Duke and Rhonda Thorson (team owners) for giving me this opportunity to race. I want to thank God, and that’s a huge part of it.” Race Winner Johnny Sauter

“I just put my head down and thought ‘oh, please get out of this.’ I don’t know how he did it, but he did.” Joe Shear, Jr., winning crew chief

“Thanks Kevin and DeLana (Harvick, team owners). I gave that one away.” Ron Hornaday, Jr., finished second

Up Next:
The Camping World Truck Series heads to Dover International Speedway in two weeks for the Dover 200 on Friday, May 14th. In 2009, Brian Scott scored his first career Truck Series victory after making a gamble and choosing not to pit under the final caution. Coverage begins at 8:00pm EDT; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate.

Contact Beth Lunkenheimer

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RamblinWreck
05/03/2010 04:15 PM
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The trucks put on the two best races of the weekend: before the rain and after the rain. It’s a shame the TV crew didn’t do a better job of showing the #3’s charge through the field after the rain, though. Watching the ticker, I get the feeling that kid was on a mission.

SpareParts
05/03/2010 09:24 PM
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Lost in the chaos at Kansas is a feel-good story for Jack Smith and the 63 Mittler Truck! A 14th place run and he nearly had a lead lap finish!

Contact Beth Lunkenheimer