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NASCAR Truck: Johnny Sauter wins at Chicagoland

Johnny Sauter celebrates in victory lane at Chicagoland Speedway after winning TheHouse.com 225 on Sept. 15, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Johnny Sauter celebrates in victory lane at Chicagoland Speedway after winning TheHouse.com 225 on Sept. 15, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

By AMANDA VINCENT

Johnny Sauter took the lead on lap 123 of the 150-lap TheHouse.com 225 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., on Friday night and led the final 28 laps of the 2017 Truck Series regular season en route to his second win of the year.

“This is what we needed,” Sauter said. “This is the momentum; this is the shot in the arm.”

Chase Briscoe took runner-up honors, but Christopher Bell was the big winner of the night, claiming the 2017 Camping World Truck Series regular-season championship after finishing the race in third, winning the second 35-lap stage of the race and leading a race-high 72 laps.

“It’s huge,” Bell said of winning the regular-season title. “I’ve got the best guys in the world here. I’m really thankful to drive this No. 4 Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports; it’s a pleasure to drive.”

Seven of the eight playoff positions were already claimed, with Ryan Truex and Ben Rhodes in the running for the final spot, providing the Chicagoland race didn’t produce a new winner. Rhodes came into the race with a seven point lead on Truex.

Truex started on the pole, won the first stage and finished the race in fourth, but that wasn’t enough. Rhodes finished sixth after overcoming a pit-road penalty for an uncontrolled tire and an extra pit stop because of a tire-installation problem during a later caution to wind up in a points tie with Truex. Rhodes got the final playoff slot by tie-breaker.

“I think I stayed calm the whole time, especially with stuff going on,” Rhodes said. I told my crew chief; he started screaming on the radio to calm down, and I said, ‘I haven’t said a word Eddie. I’ll tell you like Tony Montana says – relax, take it easy. We don’t have to worry about anything right now.’ Being calm and relaxed in the car paid off. I could have taken some really aggressive moves out there to get us farther ahead on the restarts, because it was definitely a clean air game, and we never took those moves. I’m glad we didn’t; who knows what would have happened? I got stuck on the outside once, and I thought if we were out real quick I saw my teammate moving up the track real quick and got aero loose under someone, knocked in our fender and I thought, ‘Oh no, oh no.’ I thought we were going to have to come in and go a lap down. I thought the race was done right there. One of the biggest rollercoaster races I can remember. I still don’t look happy because I don’t actually believe that I’m in. It wasn’t a good night to begin with, but we’re in. I’m happy about that; it was just a tough night and I still don’t believe that we are in, because we were so emotional this year. The whole year has been a roller coaster.”

Grant Enfinger finished Friday night’s race just ahead of Rhodes to round out the top-five.

After starting on the pole, Truex lost the lead from Bell on lap 24, but Bell gave up that lead to pit on a lap-30 caution. Truex was among the drivers who stayed out during the caution, and as a result, re-inherited the lead and took the stage-one win.

After staying out, Truex pitted during the caution between the first two 35-lap stages. Instead, Briscoe restarted for stage two with the race lead, a lead he gave up to Bell on lap 55.

Briscoe retook the lead bey getting off pit road first during a lap-106 caution, but Bell retook the lead on the restart that followed.

Other top-10 finishers included John Hunter Nemechek in seventh, Noah Gragson in eighth, Kaz Grala in ninth and Myatt Snider in 10th.

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingdaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (facebook.com/nascarexaminer).

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Posted by on September 16, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. 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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