Johnny Sauter leads Toyota to the win at Texas

Tundra driver Johnny Sauter claimed his sixth career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) victory in Friday night's race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Sauter started the race from the 13th position and worked his way into the lead twice for a total of 28 laps (of 147) en route to his second win of the 2012 season.

Johnny Sauter passes Matt Crafton
Johnny Sauter passes Matt Crafton

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt LAT Photo USA

Sauter's other win of 2012 came in the spring at Texas and with tonight's win, Sauter becomes only the third driver to sweep the two annual races at Texas Motor Speedway in the same season with Ron Hornaday Jr. (2008) and Brendan Gaughan (2002-03).

JOHNNY SAUTER, No. 13 SealMaster/Curb Records Toyota Tundra, ThorSport Racing Finishing Position: 1st

How much of a roller coaster has this season been? "It's been a season of peaks and valleys for sure. Just can't thank Duke and Rhonda Thorson (team owners), Mike Curb and everybody that's been very patient with us this year. We've had the truck to beat I felt last week and just had a lot of bad luck this year quite frankly. Toyota -- had a great week down in San Antonio at the Toyota Tundra plant down there. Say, 'Hi,' to all of those people down there. Just an awesome performance. The truck was really good yesterday in practice. Just want to thank everyone that has made this happen."

What happened on the final pit stop? "I just made sure I didn't screw up getting on pit road. I felt we had a pretty good lead. They said, 'Well, you're racing the 30 (Nelson Piquet Jr.) for the lead,' and then I got by him and they were like, 'No, no, it's the 7 (Parker Kligerman).' I knew he (Kligerman) took two tires and it would just be a matter of time. The bumps were playing havoc with everybody. Grip was at a premium and the Goodyear tires were great. The Triad engine was flawless tonight. I'm so proud of this team. It would be easy to hang our heads after the season that we've had, but another win. It's cool and we just need to finish strong."

How strong was the truck during the race? "It was just a flawless performance by this whole Sealmaster/Curb Records Toyota team. Proud of everybody at ThorSport. It's been an up and down season, but we've been fast at a lot of race tracks and just had trouble and didn't have anything to show for it. To be able to sweep Texas -- it's really cool. Grandma lives right up the road and that's two races in a row that she's made me chicken and dumplings -- I think that's beginning to be my good luck charm. Just proud of everybody and this is a team effort. I want to thank everyone at Toyota, Triad engines, Goodyear -- it's a good deal."

Was your truck in the spring stronger than this truck? "Different track positions for different things. The truck in the spring here was pretty dominant -- we started 20th and drove right to the front. I have to be honest with you, those last 50 or 60 laps I was just on cruise control. Proud of Joe Shear (crew chief) and all the guys on this team. Great pit stops tonight. Just a great run."

Were you confident that four tires would be that much better than two tires on the last pit stop? "When we made our green flag pit stop I took care of everything and made sure that we didn't get any penalties and we passed the 30 (Nelson Piquet Jr.) truck and then a half-lap later they said, 'Hey, the 7 (Parker Kligerman) truck took two tires and he's the leader.' I looked up and he was pretty far out there. I was like, 'Oh boy.' At that point they kept telling me my lap time and that I was two, three, four-tenths faster than him per lap and I knew that two tires -- with as much time as was left in the race, I didn't think they would prevail. The bumps down over the tunnel in turns one and two -- typically we can run wide open here and I wasn't able to do it all night long. You just had to roll out and I could see his truck kind of bouncing over the bumps and I just knew it was a matter of time. I got a good run on him one time and then I forget who the lapped truck was that kind of stacked us up a little bit. He took my groove away from me for the next lap and then the next lap he gave it back and we were able to stroll around him. I was pretty confident that four tires -- as fast as we reeled him in I figured it was just going to be a matter of time. There was plenty of time. It's crazy -- I think what's different about this race track from the summertime when we're here to the fall is we come here essentially by ourselves or with IndyCar and when we came back this time we've got Nationwide and Cup running on the race track all day. The race track is black -- got a lot of rubber on it. I think that may be what the difference was tonight and why it got so tight."

JOE SHEAR JR., crew chief, No. 13 Sealmaster/Curb Records Toyota Tundra, ThorSport Racing

What makes the team so strong at Texas? "We transitioned from -- we kind of figured out what it takes to run during the day and then run at night. We really worked on our long run stuff during the night. We had that night practice here and we worked on that. We really didn't see the speed like a lot of people had. We really worked on our drivability and it prevailed at the end. The drivability came to us and we made minor adjustments tuning to the race track and it fell our way. We had awesome pit stops. The guys did a phenomenal job with our adjustments and our pit stops and it was good -- it was very good. It's good to win."

What change did you make on the last pit stop? "Actually it was a minor change. We just did like air pressures and a little bit of wedge stuff. I guess our basic setup that we run here is really good. The track was a little different this year than it was before. Usually we kept tightening up here and this year we kept freeing it up. I don't know if that was the tire or the track. Our base setup was pretty close so we just kept fine tuning it and we were there at the end. I heard a lot of people getting too tight. I think we were just free enough."

PARKER KLIGERMAN, No. 7 Toyota Tundra, Red Horse Racing

Finishing Position: 2nd How do you feel about your race? "I hate finishing second man -- so does this truck. This truck is 001 -- the one of the first of the new trucks Red Horse built, the new generation. Every time we've run it we either finished fourth or second. It wants to win so bad, but sadly this is probably its last race. It will be retired to a show truck after here. You just don't want to be the one that gives it up. Chad Kendrick (crew chief) and all the guys on this crew did a great job. We started 10th and drove up through the field. Got up there and just tried to use a little bit of strategy to maybe get a huge jump on them there at the end and we just couldn't hold on to it. I was flipping blowers like crazy. Trying different lines. Doing anything I could to get speed out of it. At the same time we were trying to save fuel, and I think we were overheating. So you put it all together it was a pretty good finish."

What do you think about the points with two races remaining? "Well, two races to go. I feel like its two races we can win. Phoenix -- we're bringing basically what we ran at Iowa, and we were dominant at Iowa. Our No. 7 Toyota Tundra -- we want to get back to victory lane. I see Phoenix and Homestead as two places we can do that. If we do that, hopefully the other guys can take care of themselves, and we can come out as champions at Homestead."

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Dollar General Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports Finishing Position: 4th

How was the race? "Frustrating -- just like the rest of our year. Just unfortunately had a battery or alternator or something going wrong. The guys fought hard, we fought hard and just tried to get back towards the front. Just didn't have enough. These truck races -- when do you ever see a truck race go to the end caution free except tonight. Can't say enough about Dollar General and all these guys -- appreciate their support and what they've given us this year. Hopefully, we've got one more chance to get them in victory lane coming up at Homestead. The Toyota ran strong and we'll go get them next time."

How did the track change from practice last night to the race? "It didn't really change a whole lot from last night. During this race, definitely a lot was changing. The rubber being laid down and the top side getting rubbered in. It really, really got slick there about the last 20 laps. Just felt like you had no grip anymore. The tire air pressures were just so built up and we were able to build up so much heat in the tires that you couldn't keep hustling the truck -- you really had to baby it and not suck too much."

TODD BODINE, No. 11 Toyota Care Tundra, Red Horse Racing Finishing Position: 8th

How did the truck handle in the race? "We started off the day really loose with our Toyota Care Tundra, but Rick Gay (crew chief) made some great changes during the pit stops and our pit crew performed once again to get us out quickly. I'm proud of the effort today by this Red Horse Racing team and how much we improved over the night. If we could have had a caution at the end I think we would have had something for the leaders."

Toyota Motorsports

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Series NASCAR-TRUCK
Article type Race reports
Tags bodine, busch, kligerman, sauter, texas, thorsport, toyota