Johnny Sauter Holds Off John Hunter Nemechek To Win At Phoenixby Hunter Thomas November 11, 2017
AVONDALE, Ariz. – Johnny Sauter held off John Hunter Nemechek in the final two laps of the Lucas Oil 150 to win at Phoenix International Raceway on Friday night.
Entering the night, Nemechek had to win the NASCAR Playoff race to advance to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. When Noah Gragson spun and collected his Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate, Christopher Bell on lap 144 while battling for the lead, Nemechek got his chance to compete for the win. Nemechek started on the front row alongside of Sauter in the GMS Racing No. 21 ISMConnect Chevrolet on the final restart of the night; however, when the green flag flew, Sauter took off and never looked back to win his fourth race of the season and his second in a row in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
“Great group of guys,” said Sauter in Victory Lane. “Everybody at GMS Racing, Chevrolet, Hendrick Horsepower. It’s just a good group of people. This is the best group of people I’ve ever been around.”
Sauter continued and said, “We didn’t have the best truck. We had a really good truck on long runs and obviously the two (Kyle Busch Motorsports) KBM trucks took care of each other, so it’s just a great night.”
Although he finished runner-up and won’t have an opportunity to compete for the championship, Nemechek is incredibly proud of his team’s efforts this season.
Nemechek said, “It stinks to be that close, but I can’t thank all of our guys enough, Fire Alarm Services, all of our sponsors. We definitely need to keep our head held high. There’s definitely nothing to be ashamed of. We came here with one goal, and that was to win the race, and we put ourselves in position to do so.”
Cody Coughlin, Chase Briscoe and Kaz Grala completed the top-five.
Rounding out the top-10 was Stewart Friesen, Todd Gilliland, Christopher Bell, Austin Cindric and Bayley Currey.
Friday night’s race was the final cutoff event for a driver to advance to the Championship 4. The points battle for the fourth and final spot came down to Ben Rhodes and Austin Cindric, but on lap 131, the battle ended.
On a race restart, Cindric got a jump on Rhodes as he dove underneath him heading into Turn 1. With nowhere to go, both trucks collided, and Rhodes spun off the nose of Cindric’s Brad Keselowski Racing No. 19 Draw-Tite/Reese Brands Ford. Rhodes spun up the track and collected his ThorSport Racing teammate, Matt Crafton as both trucks pounded the outside wall. The crash ended Rhodes championship hopes.
“Well, he didn’t have the position on me at all,” Rhodes said. “His nose was barely in there, he didn’t back up, he wouldn’t ever have made the corner, so, you know, just driving over his head I guess. I don’t know. We’re just going to go forward from here to Homestead (Miami Speedway) and finish out the season strong. I guess we’ll still have fifth-place to cheer about. Just, you know, unfortunate for my teammate (Matt Crafton). He was having a really good run today.
Following the crash, Cindric who will now move on to compete for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway said, “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 Championship 4 includes Christopher Bell, Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton and Austin Cindric.
The final race of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 2017 season will be held at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday, November 17. Live coverage of the Ford EcoBoost 200 will broadcast on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 8 p.m. ET.
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