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ThatsRacin.com


Johnny Sauter dodges ‘big one’ on last lap for ninth career win

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013

Johnny Sauter emerged the winner of Saturday’s NASCAR Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Almost everyone behind him ended up hidden in a dust cloud of a violent 12-truck wreck which erupted on the final lap of the Fred’s 250.

Sauter, Ross Chastain and Dakota Armstrong – along with their respective drafting partners – waged a wild race for the lead off Turn 4 on the final of 94 laps.

As the trio of tandems approached the checkered flag, the drafting tandem of Miguel Paludo and Jeb Burton – who were traveling much faster – burst into the picture with nowhere to go.

At one point, Paludo’s truck ended upside down, sliding on its roof and appeared to hit the frontstretch catchfence. Kyle Busch took a violent hit and damaged part of the pit road wall.

As Sauter celebrated his third victory of the season, a small fleet of ambulances and fire trucks covered the frontstretch dealing with the aftermath of the wreck.

“I did see smoke in the mirror as a crested the tri-oval and trucks going everywhere,” said Sauter, who earned his ninth career victory.

“You never know what to expect here. It was just a crazy race. My teammate, Matt Crafton, just pushed and pushed and pushed and hate that so many guys’ trucks got tore up.”

David Starr finished second, Chastain was third, Parker Kligerman was fourth and Armstrong was fifth.

Crafton, the series points leader, ended up ninth and holds a 57-point lead over Ty Dillon with four races remaining this season.

Most of the drivers involved in the last-lap wreck were treated and released from the infield care center.

NASCAR officials said driver Justin Lofton was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.

“All I know is (Kligerman) came off my bumper and it took air off my spoiler,” Chastain said. “I still thought we would be second or third and not wrecked but then I got hit again and hit somebody and then hit the wall.

“I knew it would be close. I felt like coming to the checkered we still had a chance to win. But for some reason we tore up a bunch of race trucks that didn’t need to be tore up.”