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Sauter Wins But Young Burton Opens Eyes

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, April 6 2013

Johnny Sauter celebrates in Martinsville. (RacinToday/HHP photo)


MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Johnny Sauter made it 2-for-2 on the 2013 season Saturday with a victory in Martinsville Speedway’s Kroger 250, a race where tire management was critical, but it was young Jeb Burton who walked away with everything except the grandfather clock.

Burton, who started on the pole with a series track record 96.666-mph lap, led four times for 154 laps in the 250-lap event before having to settle for third behind Sauter and Matt Crafton, respectively.

“I abused the right-rear tire a little bit too early when I had to get back through there after we pitted,” said the 20-year-old Burton, who possesses second in the standings with two top-5s this year. “I thought there was 40 (laps) to go and there was actually 60 to go. I went a little harder than I needed to.

“The two cautions before last, right after the 54[Darrell Wallace Jr.] and somebody else pitted, when they pitted I went and I just went a little too hard and I abused my right rear tire just a little bit and it cost me the win. If I had just saved my stuff a little bit more I don’t think it would have ended like it did, but the 88 [Crafton] on new tires, I didn’t have anything for him. I think I could have held my ground with Johnny.”

Still, Burton said he and Sauter might have become so involved with racing each other that Crafton possibly would have slipped by them for the victory. That, however, wasn’t the scenario.

Sauter, who averaged 62.595 mph in capturing his second Martinsville victory, used the outside lane to commandeer the lead from Burton with 17 laps remaining on the paperclip-shaped, half-mile track.

“I felt I timed the restart perfect,” said Sauter, who was second on the race’s 11th and final restart. “I was behind him [Burton] a little bit as we were going down the straightaway and I think he felt like he was safe. I drove in just an extra little bit deeper. I know the 4 [Burton] got loose and got into us a little bit. When we were clear I thought we were in pretty good shape and we were.”

With the victory, Sauter becomes only the second driver in the Truck series to open the season with back-to-back victories. Mark Martin accomplished the feat in 2006. His second victory this season was the perfect birthday gift for crew chief Joe Shear, who admitted he was worried after the team’s first pit stop.

“The tires were tricky,” the 45-year-old Shear said. “We (had) corded our right front (when we made our) first pit stop. We were a little bit tight. I was nervous about it all day. I took one shot at it and we freed it up. It was pretty good from that point on and we didn’t have any tire wear after that.”

Crafton, who’s third in the standings, liked the tire management required in Saturday’s race.

“Goodyear brought one hell of a race tire for this place,” said Crafton, a teammate to Sauter. “It is one awesome race tire. It’s the best tire I’ve ever been on at Martinsville. If you drive it hard early, it goes away. If you save your stuff and don’t slip your tires, it will come in at the end and that’s what Johnny did.”

NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series will use the same tire Sunday at Martinsville and Crafton believes the STP Gas Booster 500 will be “one of the best races” seen at Martinsville in quite some time.

“You can’t abuse the tires,” Crafton continued. “Every time you slip the tires you knock off a half a tenth to a tenth on your lap time.”

Sauter said he ran a Late Model race at Myrtle Beach, S.C., two weeks ago and tire conservation was critical at the short track “more than anywhere else I’ve ever raced and I really think that helped me here today.”

“The tire today had a lot of wear and you had to be patient,” Sauter continued. “The guys that had a lot of patience today ended up in the front at the end. I spent some time in the Cup garage today and if their cars were tight they were grinding the right front off and if they were loose they were burning the right rear off. You won’t see any two tire stops tomorrow [Sunday].”

Sauter’s two victories in the first two races this season are directly opposite of all the bad luck he and his team experienced last year. However, he doesn’t like to talk about it.

“It’s great to start the year off with two wins in a row,” Sauter said. “I couldn’t be prouder. For whatever reason, the good Lord is looking down on us. We still have 21 races left and there’s a lot that can happen. We just have to keep it all in focus and take it in stride. We have to keep everybody grounded and keep everybody hungry.”

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race – KROGER 250

Martinsville Speedway

Martinsville, Virginia

Saturday, April 06, 2013

1. (4) Johnny Sauter, Toyota, 250, $33680.

2. (7) Matt Crafton, Toyota, 250, $23295.

3. (1) Jeb Burton #, Chevrolet, 250, $23865.

4. (3) Timothy Peters, Toyota, 250, $16075.

5. (2) Darrell Wallace Jr. #, Toyota, 250, $11275.

6. (8) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 250, $9550.

7. (28) Dakoda Armstrong, Chevrolet, 250, $11650.

8. (29) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 250, $11600.

9. (19) Erik Jones, Toyota, 250, $9300.

10. (9) Ron Hornaday Jr., Chevrolet, 250, $10525.

11. (23) Todd Bodine, Toyota, 250, $11450.

12. (11) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 250, $11325.

13. (22) David Starr, Toyota, 250, $11275.

14. (20) James Buescher, Chevrolet, 250, $12225.

15. (15) Joey Coulter, Toyota, 250, $12225.

16. (14) Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 250, $11075.

17. (12) Miguel Paludo, Chevrolet, 250, $11025.

18. (6) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 250, $10975.

19. (13) Nelson Piquet Jr.(i), Chevrolet, 248, $8675.

20. (25) Ross Chastain, Ford, 248, $11475.

21. (24) Caleb Holman, Chevrolet, 248, $8575.

22. (36) Tim George Jr., Ford, 247, $10800.

23. (27) Jeff Agnew, Chevrolet, 247, $10775.

24. (26) Devin Jones, Chevrolet, 246, $10725.

25. (16) Kevin Harvick(i), Chevrolet, Tire, 245, $8550.

26. (32) Kenny Habul(i), Toyota, 245, $9350.

27. (31) Grant Galloway, Toyota, 243, $9325.

28. (33) Robert Bruce, Ford, 242, $8300.

29. (5) German Quiroga #, Toyota, 241, $8250.

30. (18) Max Gresham, Chevrolet, 226, $8725.

31. (10) Brennan Newberry #, Chevrolet, 210, $7780.

32. (17) John Wes Townley, Toyota, Accident, 205, $7750.

33. (34) Norm Benning, Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 135, $7725.

34. (21) Bryan Silas, Ford, Drive Shaft, 109, $7700.

35. (30) Scott Riggs(i), Chevrolet, Ignition, 36, $7675.

36. (35) Jennifer Jo Cobb, RAM, Clutch, 22, $7619.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 62.595 mph.

Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 06 Mins, 03 Secs. Margin of Victory: 1.888 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 11 for 71 laps.

Lead Changes: 13 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders: J. Burton # 1-76; R. Hornaday Jr. 77-95; K. Harvick(i) 96-101; R. Hornaday Jr. 102-103; J. Burton # 104-146; K. Harvick(i) 147-151; N. Piquet Jr.(i) 152-161; D. Wallace Jr. # 162; N. Piquet Jr.(i) 163-164; D. Wallace Jr. # 165-197; J. Burton # 198-217; T. Peters 218; J. Burton # 219-233; J. Sauter 234-250.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): J. Burton # 4 times for 154 laps; D. Wallace Jr. # 2 times for 34 laps; R. Hornaday Jr. 2 times for 21 laps; J. Sauter 1 time for 17 laps; N. Piquet Jr.(i) 2 times for 12 laps; K. Harvick(i) 2 times for 11 laps; T. Peters 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 10 in Points: J. Sauter – 94; J. Burton # – 82; M. Crafton – 77; R. Hornaday Jr. – 76; D. Wallace Jr. # – 72; R. Sieg – 70; T. Bodine – 67; T. Dillon – 66; M. Paludo – 64; R. Blaney # – 64.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, April 6 2013
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