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ThorSport takes lumps at Michigan

Michael Truax • Aug 20, 2011 at 11:21 PM

The threatening clouds hanging over Michigan International Speedway afternoon didn't break open during Saturday's VFW 200, but there was plenty of turbulence on the track.

Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series started smoothly for the Sandusky-based ThorSport Racing entries, but on lap 76, their luck took a nosedive.

Kevin Harvick won his second Truck Series race in a row after avoiding the late field-clearing wreck.

"That wasn't a pretty win, but we'll take them how we can get them," Harvick's No. 2 crew chief Bruce Cook said.

ThorSport's Johnny Sauter piloted the No. 13 to a 13th-place finish despite a solo wreck on the backstretch that required heavy body work and caused tire trouble. He reclaimed the driver points lead from Austin Dillon, who finished behind a tow truck after a late wreck.

Matt Crafton started on the pole and led the first 20 laps, but the ThorSport veteran's gas -- and luck -- ran out on lap 76. In third behind Sauter and Dillon, Crafton lost pace coming out of Turn 2, slowing to a crawl. He limped to the pits, losing two laps in the process.

Crafton's and Dakoda Armstrong's day effectively ended in a lap-90 wreck that cleared most of the leaderboard. Third-place Parker Kligerman lost grip coming out of Turn 2, sliding into second-place Mark Martin. Before it was finished, the accident effectively claimed Crafton's No. 88, Armstrong's No. 98 and Dillon's No. 3. Crafton finished 21st and Armstrong 24th.

Kevin Harvick had just passed Martin and Kligerman before the wreck, clearing the accident. He led Timothy Peters and Miguel Paludo to the checkered flag. The victory was Harvick's 11th in 111 Truck Series starts, making him the first driver to win at Michigan in all three series. Harvick also won at Pocono two weeks ago.

"Today we were really loose at the beginning of the race and ther guys did a great job of making huge changes to the truck to get it to where I could drive it," he said.

The Sprint Cup drivers continued their dominance over the Truck Series field this season: In 11 Truck Series starts, Sprint Cup drivers have combined for 10 victories. Sauter is the only Truck Series driver to beat them to the checkered flag this season.

James Buescher was fourth overall, moving just five points back of Sauter in the driver points standings. Buescher has started only 14 of the 15 Trucks Series races this season after failing to qualify at Phoenix.

ThorSport hosted a grand opening of its new shop to the public Wednesday, drawing a crowd of 3,000 for tours and events throughout the day.

ThorSport has a short week to prepare for a short track. The Truck Series is back in action Wednesday at the O'Reilly Auto Parts 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

NOTES: ThorSport honored slain Sandusky police officer Andrew Dunn with memorial badges on all three vehicles. The team hosted the Dunn family at Saturday's race. ... Crafton's pole victory was the fifth in 262 Truck Series starts and his first this season.... Johnny Sauter ran Friday's fastest practice time. ... Sprint Cup driver Kyle Busch suffered terminal radiator problems on lap 63 that ended his quest for his sixth win in 10 tries in the Truck Series. ... Rookie Miguel Paludo's third-place finish was a career best. He has two fourth-place finishes this season.

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