Johnny Sauter has certainly seen his share of wrecks in his NASCAR career.
Friday night, a wreck helped secure perhaps his biggest victory.
Sauter sealed the win in the NextEra 250 when he took the white flag with Kyle Busch right behind him and a four-truck wreck brought out the caution flag. If a caution is displayed on the final lap after the leader takes the white flag, the race is over.
“I’m so proud of this team. We got so close a year ago. I didn’t think we would get back up to the front,” Sauter said. “I’m kind of speechless right now.
“It’s just so hard to win these. I can’t believe I’m in Victory Lane in Daytona.”
The win is Sauter’s seventh in the NASCAR Truck Series and his first at Daytona. His victory is also the 100th by Toyota in the series.
“Track position seemed to be everything and it was very hard to pass,” Sauter said. “You just had to be in the right line at the right time.”
Ron Hornaday finished third, Justin Lofton fourth and Jeb Burton fifth.
Busch said he had a plan to make a last-lap run on Sauter to try to secure the win.
“Man, what a frustrating end. You put yourself in position all night long and you do everything right and you have the guys behind you crash after taking the white flag,” Busch said.
“I had it all planned out. I was going to make it exciting for the fans.”
The race was already easily the most exciting of Speedweeks thus far and the first points-paying race of the season.
A five-car wreck on Lap 92 of 100 left Sauter out front followed by Todd Bodine and Busch. The race returned to green on Lap 96 and within a lap Bodine had dropped back in the field.
That left Busch lined up behind Sauter on the final lap and it was obvious several trucks were ready to break out of line when the caution was displayed.
The race began relatively clean and the first caution didn’t come out until Lap 54 – but it was a big one, with a wreck involving 14 trucks.