Somebody forgot to tell Johnny Sauter and Ron Hornaday Jr. that when you wreck late in the race, you’re not supposed to still finish 1-2.
But that’s exactly what happened in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway in May.
Hornaday was attempting to pass Sauter with 12 laps to go, when he lost it at the entrance to Turn 3, slid up into Sauter and turned both trucks at 45 degree angles. Remarkably, both drivers avoided losing control after tagging the wall, and Sauter’s No. 13 ThorSport Chevrolet Silverado held on to prevail over the No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevy driven by four-time NCWTS champ Hornaday. Todd Bodine was third, followed by Brian Ickler and Johnny Benson.
It was Sauter’s second career NCWTS victory, and it came just one day after his 32nd birthday. And it came not long after the two exchanged angry words after tangling at Martinsville Speedway the month before.
“He got into me,” Sauter said. “I couldn’t help but sit there and think as I was trying to save it … that darn Hornaday got me again within a month’s time. But it all worked out. That was good. That was good for the fans.”
“You can’t tell me that Kansas didn’t like that one,” added Hornaday. “That’s what the Truck Series is all about. That’s why we come to Kansas City. This is so cool.”
All told, it was a wild afternoon in Kansas, as the 167-lap race was delayed by a violent storm that came through the area dropping rain and hail, bringing out a red flag on Lap 114.
After a lengthy red-flag period, the field hit pit road, with Hornaday’s KHI crew pulling sheetmetal away from his left-rear tire, remnants of earlier contact.
The order out was Benson, Jason White, Ickler, Sauter and Bodine, as Hornaday rejoined the battle in 12th place, at the tail end of the lead lap after his crew made repairs.
The race restarted on Lap 120, Hornaday moving all the way to sixth on the first lap of green, while Benson led Sauter and Ickler up front. On Lap 124, Sauter and Ickler dropped Benson to third, as Hornaday passed Bodine for fourth. Two laps later, Hornaday moved to third, though his fender rub returned.
On Lap 129, Hornaday dispatched Ickler and set off after leader Sauter, who was 1.5 seconds ahead. Slowly but surely, Hornaday started cutting into Sauter’s lead, which he reduced to 0.821 seconds with 31 laps to go.
With 12 laps to go, Hornaday got completely sideways and slid into Sauter in Turn 3, but both drivers somehow saved their trucks, despite being at 45 degree angles.
But after making contact, Sauter was able to pull away and drive to victory.
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100 and e-mail him at Jensen is the author of “Cheating: The Bad Things Good NASCAR Nextel Cup Racers Do In Pursuit of Speed,” and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. Jensen is the past President of the National Motorsports Press Association and an NMPA Writer of the Year.