Wild Finish In Daytona Ends With Christopher Bell Flipping And Johnny Sauter In Victory Laneby Hunter Thomas February 20, 2016 0 comments
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In a wild finish on Friday night, GMS Racing’s Johnny Sauter survived all of the chaos to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway.
Sauter’s win at the World Center of Racing marked his second at the speedway. The last time he won at Daytona was back in 2013, while competing for ThorSport Racing. However, this season he’s racing for GMS Racing, and so far, so good for the No. 21 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Chevrolet team.
“I honestly can’t say that I’m surprised that we’re here,” Sauter said. “I mean, I felt like after practice yesterday that we had as good a truck as anybody. I knew we had raw speed. It’s one thing ‑‑ and we proved it tonight. I’ve always had trucks that maybe didn’t qualify that great down here, but we were able to win once before. But when a truck runs fast by itself, it really runs fast in the draft, too, so I did learn that tonight.”
Grant Enfinger led the field to the green flag to start the race on Friday night after capturing his first career pole in the series. Throughout the entire race, competition was intense, but as the field made its way towards the halfway mark, the caution clock was about to come into play. Just to debrief, if a caution hasn’t come out within 20 minutes of a green flag, NASCAR will then throw one. It’s a new rule implemented this season.
As it turned out on Friday night, teams were already trying to figure out how to use the clock to their advantage. On Lap 42, just under a minute until the caution clock was going to time out, drivers were trying to jump onto pit road before the clock expired. While entering the pits, Cody Coughlin and Spencer Gallagher crashed under green flag conditions, collecting Christopher Bell as well. The caution was the third one of the night.
The next multi-truck crash came on lap 94, and it was a massive one. Out of the 32 trucks that took the green flag to start the race, 18 of them were involved in the mayhem that took place as the field entered Turn 3. The crash brought out the sixth caution of the night, and it started up front with the race leaders. There was so much debris and so many trucks who couldn’t refire that NASCAR had to display the red flag for nearly 28 minutes.
“It’s hard racing there, said Cameron Hayley, one of the drivers involved in the big crash that took place on lap 94. “We just caught bumpers the wrong way. (Timothy) Peters got into the back of me and just tight racing and it’s so hard there at the end when you’re bumping into each other and trying to hold a pretty wheel. I guess that’s Daytona, but it just sucks for all my guys that work so hard.”
When the green flag came out once again, there was only two laps remaining in the NextEra Energy Resources 250. Ryan Truex led the low line with Johnny Sauter starting just beside him in the high line. As the field made its way down the backstretch, Christopher Bell, who was pushing Johnny Sauter lost contact, and the two drivers began falling back.
“That last restart was very hairy to say the least,” Sauter said. “I thought I was in big trouble there. We lost momentum initially when we got into Turn 1, and I thought, well, we’re going to end up finishing fifth or sixth here, and next thing I know the 4 truck (Christopher Bell) came barreling back and pushing and pushing and hitting and banging and sideways, and the thing picked up like 500 rpms instantly, and here we came.”
By the time, the field reached the flag stand to receive the white flag, both lines were almost even. Johnny Sauter was able to edge ahead of Truex just as the field exited the tri-oval, but at the same time, the leaders began wrecking, and Christopher Bell, who was running within the top-three, began barrel rolling down the frontstretch. Bell’s truck ferociously flipped end-over-end multiple times before coming to a stop in Turn 1. Following the race, Bell was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.
“Just Christopher (Bell) and I were bumping each other and we just kind of had to kind of pick where we were going to go and I saw him spinning, so I just tried to stay to the inside, but by that point I was hit from behind,” said William Byron, driver of the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 9 Liberty University Toyota Tundra.
The yellow was thrown, and the race was over since the field had already received the white flag. Finishing just behind Johnny Sauter was rookie, Ryan Truex. Parker Kligerman brought Ricky Benton Racing Enterprises’ truck home in the third position.
After tying Ricky Benton Racing Enterprises’ all-time best finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Kligerman said, “To give this team that kind of momentum to give them the opportunity to be up front, it’s great.”
Rounding out the top-10 was Coastal Carolina University student, Brandon Brown, Travis Kvapil, Tyler Young, Ben Rhodes, Daniel Hemric, Scott Lagasse Jr. and defending series champion, Matt Crafton.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will head to Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend. Coverage for the Georgia 200 will broadcast live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 4:40 p.m. ET on Saturday, February 27.
NextEra Energy Resources 250 Results:
1.) #21 Johnny Sauter
2.) #81 Ryan Truex
3.) #92 Parker Kligerman
4.) #86 Brandon Brown
5.) #50 Travis Kvapil
6.) #02 Tyler Young
7.) #41 Ben Rhodes
8.) #19 Daniel Hemric
9.) #14 Scott Lagasse Jr.
10.) #88 Matt Crafton
11.) #07 Michel Disdier
12.) #36 Bobby Gerhart
13.) #9 William Byron
14.) #49 Timmy Hill
15.) #17 Timothy Peters
16.) #4 Christopher Bell
17.) #8 John Hunter Nemechek
18.) #29 Tyler Reddick
19.) #22 Austin Wayne Self
20.) #33 Grant Enfinger
21.) #23 Spencer Gallagher
22.) #78 Chris Fontaine
23.) #11 Ben Kennedy
24.) #00 Cole Custer
25.) #13 Cameron Hayley
26.) #05 John Wes Townley
27.) #2 Austin Theriault
28.) #51 Daniel Suarez
29.) #98 Rico Abreu
30.) #66 Jordan Anderson
31.) #18 Cody Coughlin
32.) #44 Tommy Joe Martins
Photo Credit: Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images