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NASCAR Truck: Johnny Sauter gets second-straight win

Johnny Sauter celebrates in victory lane at Phoenix International Raceway after winning the Lucas Oil 150 on Nov. 10, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Johnny Sauter celebrates in victory lane at Phoenix International Raceway after winning the Lucas Oil 150 on Nov. 10, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

By AMANDA VINCENT

Johnny Sauter celebrated his second-straight win and his fourth win of the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season Friday night in the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway.

“Hell yeah,” Sauter said to his team via radio communication. “Way to go. You guys are awesome. You are unbelievable. We’ve got to do this one more time.”

John Hunter Nemechek fell one position shy of advancing to the playoff Championship Four, finishing second to Sauter Friday.

“Disappointed finishing second,” Nemechek said. “That was probably the most disappointing second-place finish of my career.”

Cody Coughlin finished third, Chase Briscoe was fourth, and Kaz Grala rounded out the top-five.

Joining Sauter Nov. 17 in the Championship Four at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the series season-finale will be Christopher Bell, Matt Crafton and Austin Cindric. Aside from Nemechek, Ben Rhodes was the other driver eliminated.

Rhodes’ championship hopes went out the window when he and ThorSport Racing teammate crashed hard on a restart with about 20 laps remaining after contact was made between Cindric and Rhodes. Cindric was able to continue to finish ninth.

“For me, the 27 (Rhodes) had been executing all night,” Cindric said. “They’d been doing what they needed to to beat us, and on that restart, I had envisioned us getting the perfect restart and trying to pop the inside if I did. I popped the inside. Obviously, he was there, because we made contact, and it’s a really tough spot for the spotters to be able to see, because it’s coming head-on as the spotters here are in turn one, so I’m sure his spotter was telling him to defend the bottom or ‘looking inside’ and, sure enough, I was on the inside. It’s one of those racing deals — two guys fighting for the same amount of real estate.  As I mentioned on TV, it was very similar to what happened at Homestead last year in the Cup race — two guys racing for the same real estate with Carl Edwards and Joey Logano. Unfortunately, that’s how it had to end. I wish we were able to race hard from there, racing three-wide, but we’ll move on.  It will give us a shot to win a championship at Ford Championship Weekend in BKR’s last race.”

Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates Christopher Bell and Noah Gragason combined to lead all but five laps of the 150-lap race, the final five laps that were led by Sauter.

Until the sixth and final caution of the race on lap 143 for a wreck in which Gragson spun into the wall and collected Justin Haley and Bell also sustained damage, the KBM teammates had run first and second for the entire race distance to that point, mostly with Bell in the lead.

Bell led a race-high 90 laps and claimed two stage wins, while Gragson led 55. When he won the first 40-lap stage, Bell joined Sauter as drivers with Championship Four berths clinched.

Bell started on the race on the pole, with Gragson alongside in second. Gragson took the lead on the opening lap and led the first nine laps until Bell led his first lap on lap 10.
Gragson retook the lead on a restart at the beginning of the third stage just before lap 90 and ran up front until Bell retook the lead on a restart that, ultimately, led to the fifth caution of the race on lap 135 when Jesse Little, Ryan Truex and Dalton Sargeant tangles, with Truex’s truck nearly getting upside down.

After Gragson retired from the race because of crash damage, Sauter inherited the lead when Bell pitted during the caution for repairs.

“We didn’t have the best truck,” Sauter said. “We had a great truck on long runs. He (Nemechek) had fresher tires, but I knew if I could have a good turn one (on the restart) and get a good launch off that corner, we’d be OK.”

Finishing the race sixth through 10th were Stewart Friesen, Todd Gilliland, Bell, Cindric and Bayley Currey.

While the first two stages ran nearly incident free, with the first caution for an on-track incident nearly coinciding with the end of stage two when Grant Enfinger got into the wall on lap 77, the yellow flag waved four times int he final 30 laps. The final three of those cautions resulted in red flags for track clean-up.

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Posted by on November 11, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR,NASCAR Camping World Truck. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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