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Johnny Sauter holds off teammate to win Martinsville Truck race

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Saturday, Apr. 06, 2013

Johnny Sauter doesn’t know anything except winning this season.

In part, that’s because the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has only raced twice, but 2-for-2 is still great start.

Sauter, who won the season opener at Daytona, held off ThorSport Racing teammate Matt Crafton to win Saturday’s Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway.

The win is Sauter’s eighth in the series and second at the Virginia short track.

“We had a really fast truck in practice (Friday), and I knew the race was going to be about track position, just trying to keep the truck underneath me,” Sauter said. “The tire wear was amazing.

“Tires were really falling off today, and I didn’t know how far to push it.”

Sauter lined up second behind then-leader Jeb Burton on a restart on Lap 233 following a caution. Sauter wasted no time in getting underneath Burton and emerged from Turns 1 and 2 with the lead for the first time.

“I knew it was important to get a good restart,” Sauter said. “I shifted into fourth (gear), and I was just lucky the truck stuck.”

Burton finished third, Timothy Peters was fourth and rookie Darrell Wallace Jr. was fifth.

Sauter continues to lead the series standings heading into next weekend’s race at Rockingham Speedway.

Crafton was surprised to find himself with a chance at the win as the race wound down. He had abused his tires on the first run, had a missing lugnut during a pit stop and was penalized for speeding on pit road.

Crafton also drove too hard into a corner and wrecked John Wes Townley late.

“We just have a never-say-die attitude,” Crafton said. “It’s great for Johnny to be in Victory Lane, but man, I thought I was going to have something for him.”

Chase Elliott, the 17-year-old son of former Cup champion Bill Elliott, made his series debut Saturday and after struggling early in the race, finished sixth.

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