Sauter Scores First Phoenix Win

Johnny Sauter

"This is the greatest team I’ve ever been a part of. To have a chance to win a second straight championship next week is just unbelievable." (Photo: Getty Images)

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Johnny Sauter scored his first win at Phoenix Raceway, and the 17th of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career, in a wild Lucas Oil 150 that set the Championship 4.

Sauter took advantage of an accident between Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates Noah Gragson and Christopher Bell who were fighting for the lead. They got together with seven laps to go and although Bell tried to stay on track, he was forced to pit road and that allowed Sauter to inherit the top spot.
 
On the final restart, Sauter got the jump on John Hunter Nemechek and was able to maintain the advantage to the checkered flag.
 
Sauter scored his fourth win of the season and second straight after his Texas victory a week ago. 
 
“This is the greatest team I’ve ever been a part of,” Sauter said. “To have a chance to win a second straight championship next week is just unbelievable.”
 
Hunter Nemechek came up one position short of transferring to next week’s championship race in Miami.
 
“It stinks to be that close,” Nemechek said. “We definitely have to keep our head held high. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
 
Cody Coughlin, Chase Briscoe and Kaz Grala rounded out the top five.
 
Stewart Friesen, Todd Gilliland, Bell, Austin Cindric and Bayley Currey completed the first 10 finishers.
 
“It sucks to not win again, but there’s nothing you can do about it,” Bell said. “Homestead is a totally different race track from this. What we did here today relates nothing to next weekend."
 
A major incident with 21 laps to involved Cindric and Ben Rhodes, who were battling for the last playoff transfer spot. The duo made contact on a restart and the impact sent Rhodes into the inside pit wall before sliding back up on track into Matt Crafton with the pair hitting the outside turn one wall hard.
 
“He put me in a bad place and I was trying to do everything I could to keep the spot, but once we filed into turn one, we were all going to wreck,” Rhodes explained. “I don’t know if that was the right move on his part. It looked like a desperation move. I guess if I was in his position, I can’t blame him, but it’s not the move I would have liked to see. … Just driving over his head, I guess.”
 
Rhodes’ ThorSport Racing teammate had a short and sweet response to the incident.
 
“Just wrong place, wrong time,” he said. I told Ben, the 19 (Cindric) better not finish Homestead.”
 
Cindric provided his view of what happened.
 
“It’s one of those racing deals,” Cindric said. “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.”
 
In all the race was stopped by three red flags for accidents and clean-up.
 
The Championship 4 next Friday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway will feature Sauter, Crafton, Bell and Cindric all with a chance to win the 2017 title.

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