DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Johnny Sauter scored the win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway.
Sauter led 39 laps en route to the checkered flag in Friday night’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 for his third win at Daytona. It was his 18th career Truck Series victory.
The GMS Racing driver took the lead for good with a winning pass around David Gilliland with nine laps to go. He was able to withstand pressure from Justin Haley and the rest of the field to hang on for the win.
Sauter’s win was an emotional one coming in the aftermath of his crew chief Joe Shear, Jr., losing his wife less than two months ago.
“This is big, this is for Joe, obviously losing Chandra about a month-and-a-half ago,” Sauter said. “Couldn’t be more proud of him to overcome something like that.”
Shear did his best to fight back tears as he celebrated in Victory Lane.
“This is very, very special here,” he said. “She’s looking above us and was in love with racing as much as I was. This is good. She was looking over us and helped us to this win.”
Sauter was ecstatic he was able to kick-off the season with another Daytona win.
“This is the most unbelievable speedway truck I’ve ever driven,” Sauter said. “My teammates tonight, I felt like we executed flawlessly. At the end there I wasn’t quite sure. I was looking in the mirror and I thought I saw them coming three-wide.”
Haley, Joe Nemechek, Ben Rhodes and Scott Lagasse Jr. rounded out the top five.
“That was badass out there. Probably the most fun I’ve ever had in a truck,” Haley said.
Grant Enfinger, Spencer Davis, Dalton Sargent, Jordan Anderson and Justin Fontaine completed the first ten finishers.
Gilliland and Sauter won the first two stages of the night’s race.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series now heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway next Saturday afternoon.