Sauter survives carnage and wins wild Truck race at Phoenix
Johnny Sauter avoided melees and mayhem en route to his first-career Camping World Truck Series win at Phoenix Raceway on Friday.
He held off John Hunter Nemechek by .688-seconds in a final two-lap shootout to decide the Lucas Oil 150.
Three red flags couldn’t slow Sauter’s path to his fourth win of 2017—and his second victory in as many weeks.
“Hell yeah,” Sauter said after scoring his 17th-career win. “Way to go. You guys are awesome. You are unbelievable. We’ve got to do this one more time.”
Cody Coughlin, Chase Briscoe, Kaz Grala, Stewart Friesen, Todd Gilliland, Christopher Bell, Austin Cindric and Bayley Currey rounded out the top 10.
Bell, Crafton and Cindric locked themselves into the Championship 4 for next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, along with Sauter.
“It means the world to me to put BKR in the final four,” Cindric said. “I’ve never raced at Homestead. I’ve tested there. But I’ll put my heart and soul into it.”
Despite finishing second, only a win would secure a position in the final four for Nemechek.
“Thank you guys for all your help, I appreciate it,” Nemechek told his crew. “Disappointed finishing second. That was probably the most disappointing second-place finish of my career.”
Bell held the point off of pit road. Gragson lined up second followed by Justin Haley, Dalton Sargeant, Rhodes, Kaz Grala, Sauter, Truex, Nemechek, Gilliland. Cindric dropped to 11th after the No. 19 pit crew had issues on the right-side of the truck on pit road. Cody Coughlin, Chase Briscoe, Crafton and Stewart Friesen rounded out the top 15 when the race returned to green on Lap 88.
Despite losing 11 spots on pit road, Crafton remained focused.
“I’ll drive it hard and smart,” Crafton replied. “I’ll get it back up there.”
Gragson took the lead from Bell followed by Haley, Rhodes, Sauter, Sargeant, Nemechek, Grala, Truex and Cindric after the first lap.
Cindric and Truex made contact in the dogleg on Lap 91. Sauter passed Rhodes for third on Lap 95. Crafton moved by Cindric for 11th one lap later.
After the first 10 laps, Gragson’s lead was .975-seconds over Bell. Haley hung onto third followed by Sauter, Rhodes, Sargeant, Grala, Nemechek and Friesen.
Sauter took third from Haley on lap 101. Crafton moved into the top 10 on Lap 105.
With 40 laps remaining, Gragson’s lead was 1.840-seconds over Bell. Sauter, Haley, Rhodes, Grala, Sargeant, Crafton, Nemechek and Truex completed the top 10.
Norm Benning hit the wall with 36 laps to go in the race. Gragson’s lead climbed to two-seconds over Bell. Rhodes passed Haley for fourth. Grala ran sixth followed by Crafton, Sargeant, Nemechek and Friesen.
Josh Reaume caused the third caution on Lap 121. Gragson led 34 laps before the yellow. Bell ran second followed by Sauter, Rhodes, Haley, Grala, Crafton, Sargeant, Nemechek and Friesen.
On Lap 127, Rhodes came to pit road followed by Nemechek, Cindric and Crafton. Gragson retained the lead followed by Bell, Sauter, Haley, Grala, Sargeant, Friesen and Jesse Little. Rhodes lined up ninth with Nemechek, Cindric and Crafton in tow. Sixteen cars remained on the lead lap when the race went green with 22 laps to go.
Bell vs. Cindric
As the field went into Turn 1, Cindric went to the inside and Rhodes blocked him. Rhodes spun out and took out Crafton in the process. They finished 20th and 21st, respectively.
“Why would he block it, why would he block it,” Cindric asked.
NASCAR red-flagged the race at 1:18:38 with 20 to go. The race returned to yellow following a 17-minute delay. Cindric returned to pit road for repairs and restarted 14th.
Gragson held the point with 16 laps remaining when the race returned to green. Bell, Haley, Sauter, Sargeant, Grala, Little, Friesen, Nemechek and Gilliland rounded out the top 10.
Bell took the lead from Gragson coming through Turn 3 on Lap 134. As the field followed in the dogleg, there were five trucks battling for the same real estate when Truex, Little and Sergeant collided on Lap 135 to bring out Caution 5. NASCAR red-flagged the race at 1:27:03 on Lap 136.
After the smoke cleared, Bell held the point followed by Gragson, Haley, Sauter, Nemechek, Friesen, Grala, Coughlin, Gilliland, Briscoe and Cindric.
The 14-minute, 21-second red-flag was lifted with 14 laps to go. Bell controlled the restart on Lap 140. Gragson had the lead after the first lap with Sauter in third. Haley dropped to fourth followed by Nemechek.
With seven laps to go, Bell and Gragson were battling for the lead coming through Turn 4 when they bounced off of each other and the No.18 truck turned into Haley’s path. Bell had damage, but held the lead at the time of the caution. NASCAR displayed the third red flag at the 1.35:48-mark.
"It sucks not to win again," said Bell who led a race-high 91 laps. "But there's nothing you can do about it."
Sauter ran second followed by Nemechek, Grala, Coughlin, Gilliland, Friesen, Briscoe, Cindric and Haley—although NASCAR scored the No. 24 truck as “out”.
Bell for pitted for repairs on Lap 145 and took right side tires. Sauter inherited the lead with Nemechek on the outside for the Lap 148 restart. Bell lined up ninth.
Stage 2 ended under caution after Grant Enfinger suffered a flat right front tire and slammed into Turn 1.
Bell had a two-second lead over Gragson at the time of the wreck. Crafton, Rhodes, Cindric, Sauter, Nemechek, Gilliland, Truex and Friesen rounded out the top 10.
Bell led 72 of the first 80 laps. Sixteen cars remained on the lead lap after the first two segments.
The lead lap cars pitted between stages on Lap 43 with Bell retaining the lead off of pit road followed by Gragson, Rhodes, Crafton, Cindric, Nemechek, Sauter, Friesen, Gilliland, Truex, Enfinger and Chase Briscoe.
Bell led the field to green on Lap 49. Gragson held onto second and Crafton passed Rhodes for third. Nemechek moved up to fifth followed by Cindric, Gilliland, Sauter, Truex and Stewart Friesen.
After the first 10 laps, Bell held a one-second lead over Gragson. Crafton, Rhodes, Cindric, Nemechek, Sauter, Gilliland, Truex and Friesen completed the top 10.
The top 10 remained the same with 15 laps to go in the second segment. Sauter caught Nemechek in the dogleg and made the pass for sixth on Lap 69.
With 10 laps to the stage end, Bell’s advantage was 1.498-seconds over Gragson. Crafton held onto third followed by Rhodes, Cindric, Sauter, Nemechek, Gilliland Truex and Friesen.
Sauter caught fifth-place Cindric with six laps to determine the stage.
Enfinger triggered the second caution on Lap 77 after hitting the wall in Turn 1.
Bell won Stage 1 of Friday’s Lucas Oil 150—and secured a position in the Championship 4 with his win.
Bell, who started from the pole, had a 4.618-second lead over Noah Gragson after the first 40 laps.
“This thing is a dream machine right now,” Bell said. “I just have to stay after it, minimize my mistakes.”
Matt Crafton ran third followed by Ben Rhodes, John Hunter Nemechek, Johnny Sauter, Austin Cindric, Todd Gilliland, Grant Enfinger and Ryan Truex.
Gragson took the lead from Bell on Lap 1. Crafton moved up to third followed by Rhodes, Nemechek, Gilliland, Cindric, Enfinger, Truex, and Sauter.
Austin Wayne Self, Mike Harmon and Jesse Little started at the rear of the field for unapproved adjustments.
Bell moved back to the lead on Lap 10. Gragson settled into second followed by Crafton, Rhodes, Nemechek, Gilliland, Cindric, Enfinger, Sauter and Truex.
Sauter passed Enfinger on Lap 19 for eighth-place.
Halfway through the segment, Bell held a 1.575-second advantage over Gragson, Crafton, Rhodes, Nemechek, Gilliland, Cindric, Sauter, Enfinger and Truex rounded out the top 10.
The top 10 remained the same with 15 laps in the stage. Sauter caught Cindric in traffic, but couldn’t make the move. The trucks ran side-by-side on the backstretch and Sauter completed the pass for seventh on Lap 28.
With 10 laps to go in the stage, Bell extended his advantage to 3.298-seconds over Gragson. Crafton, Rhodes, Nemechek, Sauter, Gilliland, Cindric, Enfinger and Truex completed the top 10 with 17 drivers on the lead lap.
Bell had nearly a four-second lead with five laps to decide the stage. Cindric passed Gilliland for seventh with one lap to go.
|2||8||John Hunter Nemechek||Chevrolet||150||0.668||45|
|11||15||Jason Hathaway||Chevrolet||147||3 laps||26|
|12||49||Robby Lyons||Chevrolet||145||5 laps|
|13||1||Jordan Anderson||Chevrolet||144||6 laps||24|
|14||24||Justin Haley||Chevrolet||143||7 laps||Accident||23|
|15||18||Noah Gragson||Toyota||142||8 laps||55||Accident||40|
|16||50||Josh Reaume||Chevrolet||141||9 laps||21|
|17||99||Dalton Sargeant||Chevrolet||134||16 laps||Accident||20|
|18||97||Jesse Little||Toyota||134||16 laps||Accident||19|
|19||16||Ryan Truex||Toyota||134||16 laps||Accident||21|
|20||27||Ben Rhodes||Toyota||129||21 laps||Accident||31|
|21||88||Matt Crafton||Toyota||129||21 laps||Accident||32|
|22||6||Norm Benning||Chevrolet||106||44 laps||Accident||15|
|23||02||Austin Hill||Ford||104||46 laps||Brakes||14|
|24||98||Grant Enfinger||Toyota||75||75 laps||Accident||15|
|25||44||Austin Wayne Self||Chevrolet||55||95 laps||Engine||12|
|26||0||Ray Ciccarelli||Chevrolet||21||129 laps||Electrical||11|
|27||10||Jennifer Jo Cobb||Chevrolet||20||130 laps||Engine||10|
|28||74||Mike Harmon||Chevrolet||19||131 laps||Brakes|
|29||87||Joe Nemechek||Chevrolet||12||138 laps||Electrical||8|
|30||45||T.J. Bell||Chevrolet||10||140 laps||Electrical||7|
|31||63||Ted Minor||Chevrolet||6||144 laps||Electrical||6|
|32||57||Mike Senica||Chevrolet||3||147 laps||Electrical||5|
Championship 4 grid set for the NASCAR Truck Series at Phoenix
BKR Take on Trucks – Team working hard to go out a champion