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NASCAR Truck: Johnny Sauter wins at Texas

Johnny Sauter celebrates in victory lane at Texas Motor Speedway after winning the Jag Metals 350 on Nov. 3, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Johnny Sauter celebrates in victory lane at Texas Motor Speedway after winning the Jag Metals 350 on Nov. 3, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

By AMANDA VINCENT

The past week has been tops for reigning NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Johnny Sauter. On Wednesday, he and his wife experienced the birth of their fourth child, a girl. Friday night, he capped off the week with his win of the Jag Metals 350 at Texas Motor Speedway, his third Truck Series win of 2017 and the fourth of his career at Texas.

“Texas is becoming one of my favorite places on earth,” Sauter said. “Just pumped up. I haven’t been pumped up this much in a long, long time. This is a big win, obviously a big week.”

The win clinched Sauters spot among the Championship Four in the Nov. 17 season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway and was the 400th win for Hendrick Engines.

“I’ve just got to thank everyone at GMS on our ISM Connect Chevrolet,” Sauter said. “This marks Hendrick horsepower’s 400th win tonight. Now, we look to Homestead to try and win another championship.”

Fellow-playoff drivers Austin Cindric and Christopher Bell finished second and third, while Chase Briscoe and Justin Haley rounded out the top-five.

Another playoff driver, Matt Crafton finished ninth, marking his 13th-straight top-10 finish at TMS, a record for most consecutive top-10s at a specific track.

The other two remaining playoff drivers, Ben Rhodes and John Hunter Nemechek suffered pit road-related struggles late in the race.

During the only green-flag cycle of stops that began on lap 117 of the 147-lap race, Rhodes’ team had an issue with a pit gun that resulted in a slow stop and a return trip to the pits for Rhodes to tighten lug nuts.

Meanwhile, John Hunter Nemechek’s team, in a win or be eliminated mindset, went into fuel conservation mode, planning to run the entire 77-lap final stage without pitting. Those plans were aborted, though, on lap 134. Running on fuel, his truck stalled on pit road, lengthening Nemechek’s time on pit road.

“We gambled it and it didn’t work out,” Nemecheck said.

Rhodes and Nemechek, as a result, wound up 18th and 19th at the finish.

Haley started on the pole and led the first 25 laps of the race, surpassing the 12 laps led throughout his entire Truck Series career, to date. He was passed for the lead by Christopher Bell just before the second caution of the race on lap 26.

Pit strategies varied throughout the remaining laps of the race that saw the yellow flag wave five times, included the two yellows that separated the race into its stages of 35, 35 and 77 laps.

Bell was among the drivers who stayed out during the lap-26 caution and won the first stage that ended nine laps later. He, then, pitted between the first two stages, handing the lead over to Matt Crafton.

Sauter also was among the drivers pitting between stages one and two. He lost positions on pit road when he took extra time for replacement of his truck’s rev limiter chip.

Crafton lost the lead to Myatt Snider on the restart, and Sinder led until Noah Gragson got by him on lap 64. Gragson drove on to the stage-two win on lap 70.

Cindric and Sauter were among the two drivers who stayed out between the second and third stages to restart on the front row for the final two stages. Cindric drove away as Sauter and Haley battled for second throughout the early laps of the final stage.

Sauter came away with the position, and on lap 109, he took the lead from Cindric.

“I timed it just right,” Sauter said. “I just knew he was struggling in turn one and turn two and didn’t think he would be able to make an aggressive move.”

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 November 4, 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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