By David Morgan, Associate Editor
TALLADEGA, Ala. – Johnny Sauter crossed the finish line first in Saturday’s NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway, but the driver of the No. 13 Ford for ThorSport Racing would not finish there.
Sauter and Riley Herbst were in the midst of a tense battle through the tri-oval, with Herbst winding up below the yellow line and NASCAR ruling that Sauter had forced the Kyle Busch Motorsports driver down there.
As a result, Sauter was dropped to the last truck on the lead lap, handing the win in the Sugarlands Shine 250 to Spencer Boyd and Young’s Motorsports.
The two drivers passed each other on pit road after the news came down, with Boyd heading off to perform his victory burnout and make his maiden trip to Victory Lane, while Sauter was left to wonder what more he could have done.
“It ain’t the first win NASCAR has taken from me,” Sauter said. “Just proud of everybody at ThorSport. Can’t thank those guys enough…I went down to put a little block on him, but then when I did, I got hooked sideways. That’s just plate racing.
“You know, I didn’t block his advance or anything like that. If I remember, I think Tony Stewart and Regan Smith had the same deal a few years back. Just hate it for my guys. They deserve better than that.”
Sauter noted that he did all he could to try and keep Herbst behind him, but ultimately, it came down to a judgement call from the sanctioning body to determine his fate on whether the win would stand or not.
“You did what you did,” Sauter said. “You did what you thought was right. It is what it is, man, It’s whatever. You just run the race. Just proud of everybody at Thorsport’s effort.
“We did what we felt was right to win the race, and whatever, you know. You got rules, you got rules, I guess.”
Sauter’s disqualification is not the first time NASCAR has stripped the victory from a driver for violating the yellow line rule. Most recently, with Justin Haley in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Daytona and in 2008 at Talladega, when Regan Smith saw his first Cup Series win disappear after NASCAR ruled he had gone below the yellow line to pass Tony Stewart for the victory.
Smith lashed out on social media after the race, eliciting his feelings about the yellow line rule snagging another victim.
— Regan Smith (@ReganSmith) October 12, 2019
As for Sauter, Saturday’s ruling is a double whammy for him and ThorSport after issues with the Ilmor spec engine dropped him out of Playoff contention the last time the Trucks were on track at Las Vegas.