Johnny Sauter Holds Off Teammate And Earns First Win Of 2017 On Old Tires At Dover

by June 2, 2017 0 comments

DOVER, Del. – With old tires, Johnny Sauter held off his GMS Racing teammate, Kaz Grala in the closing laps to win the Bar Harbor 200 Presented by Sea Watch International on Friday at Dover International Speedway.

Prior to Friday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, Sauter entered the weekend coming off three consecutive runner-up finishes. The driver of the No. 21 Allegiant Airlines Chevrolet Silverado had been winless this season until Friday afternoon when he led the final 33 laps en route to his first victory of the year. In the final 25 laps, Sauter battled Grala who had fresh tires; however, Sauter was able to hug the bottom groove as he held Grala off for his 14th career series victory. The win is Sauter’s first at the Monster Mile in nine starts.

“We’ve had a phenomenal start to the season,” Sauter said. ” I felt like I had the dominant truck in Daytona, led a lot of that race and just unfortunately got tore up there at the end on that last green-white-checkered, but other than that, a third and three second-place finishes and a win today, so I say we’re in championship form to say the least. It’s just a product of everyone at GMS Racing working their butts off, so today was probably not our best handling truck of the year, but we were able to get a win with it.”

Grala earned his high school diploma from Worcester Academy just before the green flag of the 200-lap race. Although he wasn’t able to get pass Sauter for what would have been his second win of the season, he did hang on for a second-place finish, his third top-10 in six races this year. Grala was the highest finishing rookie of the race.

ThorSport Racing teammates, Grant Enfinger and Ben Rhodes finished fourth and fifth respectively. Rhodes had a strong truck all afternoon long, and towards the end of the race, he had one of the faster trucks, but heavy traffic kept him from battling for the win. The Kentucky native led a race high of 71 laps in his No. 27 Safelite Auto Class Toyota Tundra.

Rhodes said, “Yeah this one certainly stings, but, you know, we did everything we could right now and, you know, the one’s that sting the most are the ones where you make mistakes and while we didn’t make a mistake on – on myself, I may not have told them to adjust the track bar or maybe tell them to get as aggressive as they probably should have been to make sure we were good there for the end, that’s a mistake on my part and a mistake on the crew chief’s part. We’ve just got to develop our communication and understanding, but at the same time we were playing it easy. We were being conservative because we know that points are going to take care of us.”

Austin Cindric rounded out the top-five, followed by Brandon Jones, Regan Smith, Justin Haley, Noah Gragson and Ryan Truex.

There were eight cautions during the Bar Harbor 200 Presented by Sea Watch International. A few race favorites had their day end early due to troubles on the track.

Christopher Bell entered the weekend second in the point standings, but a left rear tire blew out in Turn 3, and the damage ended his day just 35 laps into the race. He entered the weekend only two points behind the point lead. Bell leaves the Monster Mile still second in the standings, but now he’s 52 points behind leader, Johnny Sauter.

“Well, under the yellow there, I could kind of feel it was starting to get a little bit squishy – my left rear – before we went green and then when we went green I could tell it was low,” Bell said.

A multi-truck crash along the frontstretch that brought out a caution on lap 91 took out Parker Kligerman and John Hunter Nemechek. The two drivers made heavy contact. TJ Bell was also involved. Kligerman, driver of Henderson Motorsports’ No. 75 Food Country USA/Lopez Wealth Management Toyota Tundra ran as high as third prior to the accident.

NASCAR K&N Pro Series driver, Todd Gilliland made his series debut on Friday. An issue with a right front wheel forced him to retire from the race on lap 115. He finished 20th. Gilliland spent some time running upfront in the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 46 Pedigree Toyota Tundra throughout the afternoon.

“Yeah, it was definitely – we actually don’t know,” Gilliland said. “I think we had some loose lugnuts there. I had a little bit of a vibration to start that run. I didn’t know what it was. I’ve never had a loose wheel. That’s something I’m going to learn from. That’s why we’re here. I’m going to be better my next race.”

Up next on the schedule for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is the at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, June 9. The race will broadcast live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 8 p.m. ET.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

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