DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Kyle Busch looked like he was setting up Johnny Sauter for a last-lap pass during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series opener at Daytona Int’l Speedway Friday night.
Unfortunately for Busch, he never got a chance to make the pass.
An accident just after the field took the white flag gave Sauter and ThorSport Racing their first victory at Daytona Int’l Speedway in the NextEra Energy Resources 250.
The victory served as a bit of redemption for Sauter, who was wrecked late while leading this same race one year ago.
“I’m just so proud of this team,” said Sauter, driver of the No. 98 Toyota Tundra. “We came so close a year ago and that was a tough one to swallow. Tonight seemed to be about track position. I thought we were in big trouble there when we were like 14th with 30 to go. I thought, ‘Man, we’re just not going to get there.’
“When the good Lord is in your corner, he is in your corner,” Sauter said. “It takes so much luck to win here at Daytona. To be able to put it all together is big.”
Unlike last year when a late-race wreck eliminated Sauter from contention, this year it was a wreck that gave the series veteran his first Daytona victory.
Busch held the lead when the field returned to racing on lap 81 following a caution for fluid on the track. It wasn’t long before Sauter, with a big push from teammate Todd Bodine, drove by Busch on the outside down the backstretch to take the lead away.
“It was obvious that I wanted to be with Todd. Todd did a great job helping me win this race,” Sauter said.
The ThorSport Racing duo held the top two spots comfortably until Ryan Truex crashed in turn three on lap 91 to bring out the fifth caution flag of the night. During the ensuing restart Sauter was able to get going quickly in the inside lane with Busch hot on his heels.
Busch stayed glued to Sauter’s bumper for the next four laps, presumably setting Sauter up for a last-lap pass. But when contact between Jeff Agnew and James Buescher sent Agnew into the outside wall just as the field took the white flag, all of Busch’s planning went up in smoke.
“It would have been a really good day if it had been a 100-lap race, but it was only 99 today,” said Busch after his third second-place finish at Daytona in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. “I hate how that happens. You get crashed here after taking the white flag and you don’t get a chance to bring it back.”
Sauter’s victory was the 100th in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for the manufacturer Toyota. It was also Toyota’s seventh-straight victory in the Truck Series opener at Daytona.
Ron Hornaday Jr. crossed the finish line in third, followed by Justin Lofton and Jeb Burton.
Rookie Brennan Newberry, who earned his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series pole earlier in the day, was involved in “the big one” on lap 54. He finished 33rd.