A 360 degree turn-around occurred for Johnny Sauter at Daytona Friday night. Last year, Sauter was leading during after a restart and he was involved in a wreck. This year, Sauter pulled into victory lane after the race ended under caution due to a wreck. What a difference a year makes. Sauter celebrated in victory lane while many drivers will shake their heads and wonder what they could have, would have and should have done.
The Truck Series NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona started out pretty dicey when drivers attempted to make early moves. Luckily for the drivers, none of those early moves resulted in a wreck. Justin Lofton led the race early before being passed by Ty Dillon on lap seven. The first caution didn’t come out until the one fourth mark of the race when debris was spotted on the track. The next caution came just after halfway and it was the big one.
The wreck started when Brendan Gaughan in the No.62 truck placed his truck in a hole that wasn’t there and he was squeezed by German Quiroga and Brenna Newberry. Then Quiroga was turned by Gaughan up into the turn three wall. That also put pole-sitter Newberry into the wall as well since he had nowhere else to go. More trucks started to pile in when Tim George Jr. was turned up and across the track. After the mayhem stopped, 13 trucks were counted in the wreck including Chris Fontaine, Ryan Truex, Chris Cockrum, Jeff Agnew, Bryan Silas, Jason White, John King and Dakoda Armstrong.
The race resumed after the leaders came down pit road and Bodine found himself in front of the field. Bodine couldn’t hang there long once Kyle Busch pushed Ty Dillon back to the front of the pack. Just as that lead change was occurring, the caution came out for Jason White who blew a tire and wrecked in turn four. Just about ten laps after the restart, disaster was averted after Bodine saved his truck from wrecking right in front of the field while they were racing through the tri-oval. Bodine’s misfortunes allowed Kyle Busch to snag the lead.
Johnny Sauter took the lead for the first time of the night with fifteen laps to go. The Trucks started to wreck again with nine laps to go after Ryan Truex blew a tire. Truex blew a tire as the field headed off into turn three and Truex started to slide back and then his tire completely blew and he wrecked in front of Ross Chastain. Chastain then spun after contact from Truex and then Timothy Peters slammed into the side of Truex.
The final five laps were set to begin when Johnny Sauter took the green flag on the restart. Busch pushed Sauter ahead of the pack as the trucks rounded Daytona’s high banks in the closing laps. After the Trucks took the white flag, a wreck occurred at the exit of the tri-oval and the caution flew and ended the race. Just like that, the race was over and Johnny Sauter had won. As everyone caught their breath, a replay of the wreck showed James Buescher turned Agnew up into the outside wall. John King, Joey Coulter and a few other trucks were involved in the wreck.
Redemption had struck for Sauter when he pulled into victory lane to celebrate the race that he had just about won before a wreck a year before. Sauter celebrated his early season victory along with Toyota’s 100th Truck Series win. 2013 is off to a good start for Sauter along with Ron Hornaday Jr. who finished third. The Truck Series won’t be back in action until April but, after seeing the opening race to the season, we have a lot to look forward to in the Truck Series this season.