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Sauter Win Is ‘Biggest’ Of Career

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, May 20 2018

Johnny Sauter finished No. 1 in Friday night’s NACAR Truck Series race.
(File photo)

RacinToday.com

Capping a stirring drive from pole position, Johnny Sauter collected the sweetest win of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career Friday night in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Sauter led 71 of 134 laps en route to his first career win on the 1.5-mile superspeedway in Concord, N.C. The 2016 series champion held point despite seeing his one-second lead erased when a caution flag came out with 22 laps to go.

Sauter pulled off an excellent re-start, but the GMS Racing ace had to again regroup when the race’s final yellow flag bunched up the field for a 10-lap shootout that saw Sauter hold off Kyle Busch and Brandon Jones of Kyle Busch Motorsports.

“This is the biggest win of my career,” said Sauter, driver of the No. 21 ISM Connect Chevrolet Silverado. “It’s been a challenging place. I’ve had a lot of good runs here and I’ve had a lot of bad runs here. So this is the big one. I don’t know of anybody who doesn’t want to win at Charlotte in everybody’s backyard. I’m just proud of these (GMS) guys. It was really fast at the end of the night.

“I’m just really comfortable with everything we have going on. We’re growing as an organization and we just continue to get better and better. This is a big deal for GMS fabrication and all the guys. We do all of our own bodies and chassis in-house. So this is a testament to over 100 people’s hard work. I’m just the lucky guy that gets to drive this truck. Today we had a good truck in practice and the adjustments the guys made before the race really brought it to life.”

Brett Moffitt and Ben Rhodes rounded-out the top five, with Stewart Friesen sixth, Parker Kligerman seventh and Noah Gragson eighth. John Hunter Nemechek and Todd Gilliland completed the top -10.

Sauter, of Necedah, Wis., completed a proud evening for Wisconsin drivers as Cambridge, Wis., native Matt Kenseth claimed pole position for Roush Fenway Racing for Saturday’s Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race.

“Johnny touched on it; it’s just a lot of hard work from everybody as a team,” said Joe Shear Jr., Sauter’s crew chief. “I’m just so proud of these guys because I see it. We keep digging to get better.”

Busch rallied from a pair of disastrous pit stop penalties for crewmen going over the wall too early to challenge Sauter. Those penalties forced Busch to give up track position and start at the end of the longest line.

“I got back up to second by pure talent,” Busch quipped, sarcastically. “That’s about it. My pit crew did absolutely nothing to help me out tonight. My truck drove like (expletive) and these splitters are absolutely horrendous. You can’t pass in traffic; you can’t race anybody. You can’t get within five truck lengths of anyone.”

Jones, meanwhile, was ecstatic with his podium result in the No. 46 Toyota.

“I raced the best in the Truck Series there at the end. I couldn’t be happier,” Jones said. “All in all, it was a pretty good day for us. We got some track time this morning and we did think we were a top-20 truck. I started 28th, kind of started in the back and had to fight all day. The last segment there it came down to two of the best in the business that finished 1-2. So, it was pretty good to race the boss man (Busch) a little bit and be able to hold there as long as we could.”

Point-leader Sauter now has scored three victories in the first seven Truck Series starts. Sauter won the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway in February and marked his 40th birthday earlier this month at Dover International Speedway with a victory in the JEGS 200.

Sauter became only the second driver to win multiple NCWTS races at Dover _Busch has four wins _ and was the first to post back-to-back victories on the “Monster Mile” concrete surface since Busch accomplished the feat in 2013-14.

The Truck Series schedule will resume at Texas Motor Speedway _ sister 1.5-mile track to CMS _ for the Rattlesnake 400 night race on Friday, June 8. The event in Fort Worth is a prelude to the DXC.technology 600 Verizon IndyCar Series race on Saturday, June 9.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, May 20 2018
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