Saturday, December 16, 2017
Sports

Sauter takes trucks victory

DAYTONA BEACH — Johnny Sauter was taken out on the final lap at Daytona International Speedway last year. Another late wreck helped him get to Victory Lane on Friday night.

Defending series champion James Buescher crashed on the final lap of the NASCAR truck series opener, the NextEra Energy Resources 250. That brought out a caution that prevented veteran Kyle Busch from making a last-lap move on Sauter, the leader.

"I was having flashbacks of last year," said Sauter, who was turned by race winner John King in 2012. "They always say you want to be second going into the last lap. It just didn't work out that way. … I'm not going to lie. I was happy to see that caution come out at the end."

After a burnout to celebrate his first Daytona victory in any series, Sauter got lost trying to find Victory Lane.

"I didn't have a clue where it was," Sauter said. "I couldn't see. I was relying on the spotter to tell me where to go. He told me to turn into that entrance. It was the wrong one. Nobody was more confused than I was."

It was the 100th win in the series for Toyota and the manufacturer's seventh straight at NASCAR's most famous track. Busch wound up second.

Sitting out: Kevin Harvick sat out both Daytona 500 practice sessions. He wasn't alone among Sprint Cup drivers.

Joining Harvick on the sidelines were 11 others, including Richard Childress Racing teammates Austin Dillon and Paul Menard. Dillon is scheduled to make his 500 debut. Other notables who sat out were Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Juan Montoya and Mark Martin.

Harvick goes into Sunday's season opener with two wins in two races at Speedweeks.

Three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart posted the day's fastest lap in the second practice at 197.131 mph. He was followed by four-time champion Jeff Gordon and pole-sitter Danica Patrick. Kasey Kahne's 10 consecutive lap average of 195.305 mph was tops, followed by Patrick (195.258).

Carl Edwards ran but only in single-car laps. Edwards has been involved in wrecks that have damaged three cars during Speedweeks, and a fourth car was crashed during testing at Daytona in January. "Someone texted me that Bobby Allison wrecked three cars and then won," Edwards said. "I haven't wrecked a rental car yet, so we should be good."

Nationwide: Former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne will start from the pole in today's opener, the Drive4COPD 300. Bayne turned the fast lap during qualifying at 177.162 mph. He is driving the No. 6 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing, the car Sprint Cup rookie Ricky Stenhouse drove to the past two championships in NASCAR's No. 2 series. Former IndyCar champ Sam Hornish starts second, Danica Patrick 12th and Dale Earnhardt Jr. 13th.

Ceremonies: Recently retired Baltimore Ravens star and Bartow native Ray Lewis, who capped his 17-year NFL career with a Super Bowl title this month, will wave the green flag to start the 500. … Mark Reuss, president of General Motors North America, will drive the honorary pace car, a 2014 Chevrolet SS. … Actor James Franco will serve as grand marshal. He will give the command for drivers to start their engines and be introduced at the driver's meeting.

NHRA: Antron Brown led Top Fuel after two qualifying runs in Chandler, Ariz. His run of 3.765 seconds at 314.83 mph topped the speed charts one week after he walked away from a crash at the opener in Pomona, Calif. Johnny Gray (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) also led qualifying, which continues today.

Speedweeks schedule

Today

10:30 a.m.: Daytona 500 practice

1:15 p.m.: Nationwide Drive4COPD 300 (120 laps, 300 miles). TV: ESPN

SUNDAY

1: Sprint Cup Daytona 500 (200 laps, 500 miles). TV/radio: Ch. 13; 102.5-FM

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