Sauter Scores First Win of Season

Johnny Sauter

"I’ve never won here before and it’s a place I always enjoy coming to. It’s a feather in your cap if you can win here." (Photo: Getty Images)

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DOVER, Del. - Johnny Sauter scored his first checkered flag of the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season in Friday’s Bar Harbor 200 at Dover International Speedway.

It’s Sauter’s first career win at Dover in his ninth career start at the track and his fifth-straight top-three finish in 2017.

“We’ve had a phenomenal start to the season,” Sauter said. “We had the dominant truck at Daytona, led a lot of that race and unfortunately got torn up there at the end. Other than that, a third and three second place finishes and a win today.”

“I’d say we’re in championship form. I’ve never won here before and it’s a place I always enjoy coming to. It’s a feather in your cap if you can win here"

Sauter started 11th on Friday and was running fourth at the conclusion of Stage 1 before falling back to ninth at the end of Stage 2. 

Sauter used pit strategy to get to the front of the field, making one less stop than most of the race leaders when green flag pitstops began with 45 laps to go and then maintained the top spot after a charge by teammate Kaz Grala in the closing laps, leading the final 33 circuits.

“Clean air was everything. I think you saw that with everyone at one point who was at the front of the race and got shuffled back,” Sauter said. “We did all we needed to do and had the right strategy. 1-2 finish for GMS. A great day.”

Behind Sauter was his teammate Grala in second, with Grant Enfinger, Ben Rhodes and Austin Cindric rounding out the top-five finishers.

Grala stopped for new tires after caution flew on Lap 172, restarted fourth and charged to second but wasn’t able to get by Sauter in dirty air.

“Beyond satisfying. A big day all around,” Grala said. “Huge congrats to Johnny Sauter. Real happy to see him get that. Now we got two trucks on the team in the playoffs, which is great news.”

“That was the cleanest air all day. That was how I got that track position. Air trumps tires for the most part, certainly to a point. Johnny Sauter is a veteran and a champion for a reason. He let me roll up to him a little bit when he was pushing up off the bottom. He knew when I got near him he stayed on the bottom and take away the air that I needed."

For Enfinger, it signaled his first top-five finish of the season.

“It’s definitely a good run for us. We needed a solid finish going into the busy part of the season,” Enfinger said. “(Crew Chief) Jeff Hensley great call there. It got us great track position that seemed to be key. We were a mediocre truck in dirty air and we were pretty good in clean air.”

“I feel like we got a little momentum now,” Grala said. 

Sauter extends his lead in the points by 52 markers over Christopher Bell, who finished 25th after a Lap 82 crash.

The race was slowed eight times by cautions for 43 laps.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will head to the Texas Motor Speedway for next Friday night’s Rattlesnake 400.

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