Following the Winstar World Casino 350k at the Texas Motor Speedway, Johnny Sauter said perfection in this sport wins races.
Had Sauter and teammate Matt Crafton been perfect they may have finished first and second instead of second and third behind Kyle Busch. Instead each driver suffered a set back during the event and were left shaking their heads.
Sauter’s finish, which bookend a pair of second place finishes at Texas in 2010, wasn’t something he was happy about, telling the SPEED cameras that if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say it at all. His frustration came from not capitalizing with one of the strongest trucks on the track.
His No. 13 FarmPaint.com Chevrolet led 31 laps of 147 laps.
“It’s just really hard to win races,” Sauter said. “I say this all the time and I say it over and over again because it’s true: I don’t care if it’s the Hornet division or the Sportsman division or Late Model division, Truck, Cup, whatever; it’s just really hard to win.”
Sauter entered the night with high hopes. He practiced third and fifth fastest in the two sessions on Thursday and then qualified in the seventh position.
“We led there for a while and I knew we had a good truck in practice yesterday because I ran the whole run, first and second practice, on the same set of tires and never had to lift,” Sauter continued. “I was wide open the whole time so I knew we had a solid truck.”
Sauter took the lead on lap 61 and looked to have a good chance of capturing his second win of the season. He won Kansas in May after a thrilling battle with Ron Hornaday that saw the two perfect a synchronized spin in turn four.
On Friday night there was no spin for Sauter but his chance of victory was snatched away on lap 91 when he ran out of fuel during a green flag run. Todd Bodine went to the lead and Sauter limped around to pit road.
“We had phenomal pit stops today, we really did as far as our program is concerned,” he said. “We just didn’t get it full on the second stop and ran out of fuel. We weren’t anticipating running out of fuel and it got us behind a little bit. None the less solid night for Thorsport, everyone involved, just close but no cigar.”
Close was how teammate Crafton felt. After winning the pole his No. 88 Chevrolet had to start in the rear of the field because a piece of sheet metal came apart under the rear decklid. Crafton may have felt as though he passed the most trucks but not the two that mattered at the end.
“We had a really good truck,” he said. “Very, very disappointing to have to start at the back and work out way through there, to finish third were we did. It doesn’t show how good a truck we were.”
Crafton remains winless in 2010 and hasn’t seen the checkered flag since May of 2008 at Charlotte. Crafton didn’t even get the chance to lead a lap at Texas.
“If you watch the last 20 laps I could catch Johnny [Sauter], Johnny could catch Kyle [Busch] and once we could get three trucks back from each other you just get tight and you couldn’t do anything,” said Crafton.
“One lap I was the fast truck and the next Johnny would be and the next lap Kyle would be. It’s aggravating. It’s all about track position and it’s a shame our truck got tore up under impound and we had to go to the back for it.”
While neither ThorSport Racing driver left Texas where they wanted, each enjoyed racing at the facility. Crafton said it was awesome and then went on to praise the tire.
“I love the tire they [Goodyear] brought the last two times we’ve been here,” he said. “You could run the second groove, the third groove and when I had to come from the back there was definitely a second and third groove. Sometimes in the past with the tire we had it was everybody running around the white line. Goodyear’s done a lot of work on it and made it a lot better.”
For Sauter and Crafton they’ll look to get better the final two races of the truck series season. The pair sit third and fourth in points respectively and protecting their positions will be one of the main concerns. Momentum in on the team’s side as one of their trucks has finished second in the past four races.
With the elimination of errors it’s not hard to believe the two drivers will be winning races instead of finishing second.