Homestead-Miami Speedway, the home of NASCAR championships for years now, has now crowned another champion in the Camping World Truck Series. That champion is Austin Dillon. Dillon, driver of the famous #3, claims the championship over rival Johnny Sauter (#13 SafeAuto Chevy) by six points when the race was halted for rain. The race itself, won by Johnny Sauter.
Let’s start at the beginning though, of the race that is.
Rain was a major concern entering the race tonight in Homestead, after Camping World Truck Series qualifying in addition to Sprint Cup Series practices were all cancelled for rain during the day. This handed the pole to the fastest truck in first practice, being James Buescher (#31 Exide Chevy). Buescher entered the race a distant 28 points out of the championship, while Sauter came into Homestead trailing Austin Dillon by 20 points, needing a banner night and some help from Dillon.
As the race came to a roaring start, with the worry of rain on the backburner of everyone’s minds, Kevin Harvick (#2 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevy) took the early lead, looking for a victory in the last night out for Kevin Harvick Incorporated in the Truck Series. After the competition caution at Lap 20, Denny Hamlin (#18 Dollar General Toyota) took the lead briefly in search for the weekend sweep in all three series, but was challenged quickly by Harvick, Buescher, and Sauter. Buescher took the lead on a bold move to the outside on Lap 27, before German Quiroga (#51 Telcel Toyota) spun out on Lap 30, bringing back out the yellow.
Buescher led following the caution, before being passed by Elliott Sadler (#24 Autism Speaks Chevy) on Lap 40.
With no caution in sight after the halfway point of the race, the leaders began green flag pit stops. During the stops, Johnny Sauter briefly took the points lead over Austin Dillon by one point, while Kevin Harvick appeared to be purposely spun on pit road by James Buescher.
As the race began to reach a conclusion, Ross Chastain (#93 National Watermelon Board Chevy) spun in turn 4, bringing out a caution, and bringing the leaders to pit road.
Following pit stops, Johnny Sauter inherited the lead, while Austin Dillon was mired back in traffic in 14th. Then the race turned a page. Austin Dillon appeared to have problems moving forward, and may have had fluid coming out from the bottom of the car. However, this would not matter as the rain returned to Homestead-Miami Speedway, just as Denny Hamlin attempted to pass Johnny Sauter on the high side entering turn 3.
The rain fell, and with 17 laps to go, the race was called. Johnny Sauter was declared the winner of the Ford 200, and Austin Dillon claimed the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship.
Meanwhile, in the owners championship battle, Kevin and DeLana Harvick claimed the owners title, a fitting end to their ten years of owning Kevin Harvick Incorporated.
Here is the rundown of the finish at the Ford 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway:
1) 13 Johnny Sauter
2) 18 Denny Hamlin
3) 2 Kevin Harvick (clinched owners title)
4) 8 Nelson Piquet Jr. (rookie)
5) 22 Joey Coulter (clinched rookie of the year)
6) 21 Ty Dillon (rookie)
7) 24 Elliott Sadler
17 Timothy Peters
9) 23 Jason White
10) 3 Austin Dillon (clinched drivers championship)
11) 81 David Starr
12) 31 James Buescher
13) 33 Ron Hornaday Jr.
14) 29 Parker Kligerman (rookie)
15) 15 Dusty Davis (rookie)
16) 5 Todd Bodine
17) 4 Ricky Carmichael
18) 6 Justin Lofton
19) 88 Matt Crafton
20) 62 Brendan Gaughan
21) 9 Max Papis
22) 60 Cole Whitt (rookie)
23) 32 Blake Feese (rookie) -1 Lap
24) 39 Ryan Sieg -1 Lap
25) 98 Dakoda Armstrong (rookie) -1 Lap
26) 51 German Quiroga (rookie) -1 Lap
27) 93 Ross Chastain (rookie) -2 Laps
28) 09 Bryan Silas -2 Laps
29) 57 Norm Benning -5 Laps
30) 68 Clay Greenfield -15 Laps
31) 66 Max Gresham DNF
32) 7 Miguel Paludo DNF
33) 74 Mike Harmon DNF
34) 38 Dennis Setzer DNF
35) 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb DNF
36) 07 Johnny Chapman DNF
Did Not Qualify: 45 Tim George Jr, 20 Ross Chastain (moved to #93), 14 Brennan Newberry, 76 Derek White, 27 Dennis Setzer (moved to #38), 44 Frank Kimmel, 70 Jeff Agnew
As the Camping World Truck Series season comes to a close, we would be remiss without noting the changes already on the horizon for 2012. The series could see a smaller schedule next season, as less than 25 races is a very large possibility. Rockingham Speedway sees NASCAR return next year with a truck race for the first time in a half dozen years. Kevin Harvick Incorporated will be shutting its doors at season’s end, while Ron Hornaday will move to the number 9 for Joe Dennette Motorsports, and Nelson Piquet Jr to Turner Motorsports. Finally, Johnny Benson is set to make his return to trucks in the Turn One Racing #66.
With 2011 now saying goodbye, we are already looking forward to Daytona in February 2012.