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NASCAR Truck: playoff Championship Four set

Johnny Sauter celebrates his fourth win of the season after the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 10, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Johnny Sauter celebrates his fourth win of the season after the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 10, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

By AMANDA VINCENT

With the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway, the second-to-last race of the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, in the history books, the Championship Four field for the season-finale Nov. 17 at Homesead-Miami Speedway has been set.

Johnny Sauter, the Phoenix winner, heads into the finale with momentum from two-straight wins, as he also won the race at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 3.

“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.”

Sauter will be joined in the Championship Four by Christopher Bell, Matt Crafton and Austin Cindric.

Bell clinched his spot in the Championship Four early in the Phoenix race with his win of the opening 40-lap stage. He wound up finishing the race in eighth after leading a race-high 90 laps.

Cindric also finished in the top-10, but his advancement to Homestead brings with it controversy, as he made contact with a now-eliminated driver, Ben Rhodes. With about 20 laps remaining contract from Cindric resulted in Rhodes wrecking hard with ThorSport teammate, Crafton.

“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.”

The season-finale at Homestead will be the final race for Cindric’s Brad Keselowski Racing team, as BKR is shuttering its operations at season’s end.

Cindric was able to continue, but Rhodes and Crafton were retired from the race. Crafton, though, headed into the race with a large enough points cushion to advance, anyway.

John Hunter Nemechek was the other driver eliminated from playoffs at PIR, despite finishing second to Sauter.

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

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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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