Martinsville, VA – Johnny Sauter won his second straight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race after passing Jeb Burton for the lead on a late-race restart in Saturday's Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway.
Sauter, who won the Truck Series season-opener 43 days ago at Daytona International Speedway, pulled ahead of Burton with 17 laps to go and then beat his ThorSport Racing teammate, Matt Crafton, to the finish line by 1.9 seconds for the victory. It was the eighth career win in the series for Sauter. He won the spring race at Martinsville two years ago.
Sauter became just the second driver in series history to win the first two races of the season. Mark Martin did it in 2006, with victories at Daytona and Fontana, Calif.
"Starting out 2-for-2, this is unbelievable," Sauter said.
Sauter was not much of a factor during most of the 250-lap race at this 0.526- mile, paperclip-shaped track. He made his charge towards the front within the final 30 laps. Sauter attempted to pass Burton for the lead just before the caution flag waved for the 11th time on lap 229. Crafton bumped Todd Bodine from behind and spun him around.
"It was a long day," Sauter said. "The tire wear was amazing. We kind of had an idea it was going to be like that all day."
Crafton's second-place run gave ThorSport a 1-2 finish.
"This is a great start for ThorSport Racing," Crafton said. "We're going to be a championship contender team, both of us, Johnny and I."
Burton, who is the 20-year-old son of 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton, started on the pole and dominated most of this race by leading 154 laps. He finished third at Martinsville after placing fifth on Feb. 22 at Daytona.
"I just couldn't stay with (Sauter) at the end," Burton said. "I had a good truck all day. It was awesome from the beginning. We got the pole and a new track (qualifying) record. We finished third in the race, so there's nothing to hang our heads about."
On lap 104, Burton hit four-time truck champion Ron Hornaday Jr. from behind and spun him around while the two were battling for the lead.
Sauter currently holds a 12-point lead over Burton and a 17-point advantage over Crafton.
Timothy Peters finished fourth, while Darrell Wallace Jr. took the fifth spot. Chase Elliott, the 17-year-old son of 1988 NASCAR Cup champion Bill Elliott, placed sixth, followed by Dakoda Armstrong, Ryan Sieg and Erik Jones.
Hornaday was also involved in a three-truck wreck on lap 156 but bounced back with a 10th-place finish.
Kevin Harvick, who was the only Sprint Cup Series regular to compete in this race, led 11 laps in the early going and was in contention to win until he cut a tire in the closing laps and wound up finishing 25th.