By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
Despite the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series being NASCAR’s third tier series, there are times that the Trucks put on one of the best races of the weekend. The 2010 O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway was one of those instances and as such, will be the focus of this week’s edition of “Throwback Thursday Theater.”
Much like this weekend’s race on the 1.5-mile track, the Trucks entered Kansas after a month off from racing and the drivers were ready to get back to business.
Ron Hornaday, Jr. would lead the field to green with Matt Crafton alongside, with Hornaday getting the jump from the start in his Kevin Harvick, Inc. Chevrolet and leading 33 of the first 36 laps, which also included four caution periods for crashes.
Under the fourth caution, a new contender would emerge in Johnny Sauter, who was in his second full-time season with ThorSport Racing. Taking over the lead from Hornaday, Sauter would hold onto the point for the next 53 laps before green flag pit stops began and the lead would shuffle through four different drivers before another yellow for a wreck, the sixth of the day, would fly at lap 98.
Sauter would reassume the lead under caution, but once the race went back green, Brian Ickler took over on the restart. However, his lead would be short-lived as Hornaday moved back into the top spot just three laps later as the skies over Kansas began to grow angry.
On lap 113, the ever-darkening skies over the track gave way to heavy rain and hail, forcing the race to be halted under a red flag. Almost as soon as the rains came, they were gone, and NASCAR was able to get the track dried and the race back underway an hour and 30 minutes later.
When the race went back green, Johnny Benson, Jr. would be the new leader, but just as he had done previously in the race, Sauter was back out front at lap 124 with Hornaday in hot pursuit. 23 laps later, Hornaday was able to get by, but for only a lap before Sauter reassumed the lead with 20 laps to go.
As the two continued to battle, the moment the race will be known for would take place a handful of laps later. Heading into Turn 3 with 13 to go, Sauter and Hornaday were approaching lapped traffic, slowing Sauter up a bit and allowing Hornaday to try and make a move on him. Hornaday would get loose underneath Sauter and washed up into him, turning both trucks sideways.
Both drivers would go into a power slide after the contact, but the two would show off their impressive driving skills by saving their respective trucks from spinning out and continuing on in the race still in first and second.
Sauter came out of the slide in much better shape than Hornaday as the slide had worn Hornaday’s rear tires much more than Sauter’s and that would be the difference in their battle as Sauter was able to pull away in the closing laps to score the win by a 5.032 second margin.
“I can’t wait to watch that on TV,” said Sauter. “That was out of control. I was thinking that dirty bugger Hornaday got me again. That was awesome. Just can’t say enough about Duke and Rhonda Thorson giving me this opportunity to drive this race car. I want to thank God, that’s a huge part of this.”
“Just a good handling truck and a lot of sideforce,” said Hornaday on his ability to make the astounding save with 13 laps to go. “I was just so tight. I could run him down, but then I’d just get tight. We got there in that lapped traffic and I lost the nose. I got out of the gas and the nose set and turned sideways and I said ‘Look out Johnny, here I come.’ He knows what he had to do and he drove it there and got us both loose and I drove up into him. I’m just glad we saved it. I was trying to stand on the gas and burned the right rear tire off of it.”
“Kevin and Delana (Harvick), thanks, I gave that one away. Darn. What a cool day.”
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