Johnny Sauter Clinches Regular Season Truck Title

Johnny Sauter clinched the regular-season Truck Series title at Bristol
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Johnny Sauter scored his fifth win of the season and secured the top seed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs with a victory in Thursday night’s UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The 2016 truck series champion capped off the 2018 “regular season" by passing race leader John Hunter Nemechek with five laps to go and then held off Stewart Friesen to take the checkered flag for the 22nd time in his career. Friesen came home second while Nemechek held on to finish third.

Sauter’s victory was his first ever at Bristol and breaks a tie with Brett Moffitt for most wins in the truck series this season so far – putting him in the playoffs as the top seed.

“I’m so proud of this team," said Sauter. “I knew we had a great truck today. What a way to cap off the regular season with a win. I had to race really hard with the 52 (Friesen) there for a while, which was exciting.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"] “I’ve never won at Bristol before, so I was pumped," Sauter said. “I’m so lucky I’ve got this group of guys. We won at Bristol—this is the ultimate. For a short track guy, and I consider myself a short-track guy, to get a win at a place like this is so special. I’m just pumped, and I can’t wait to start our championship run."

Moffitt claimed the second seed, while regular season race winners Noah Gragson and Ben Rhodes were already locked in and claimed the third and fourth seeds.

Nemechek had been the class of the field all night, leading a race-high 104 laps and winning both the first and second 55-lap stages before Sauter cycled to the front at the start of the third stage.

Sauter would hold the top spot for the better part of 45 laps before getting mired behind a pack of lapped cars that held him up just long enough for Nemechek to track him down and make the pass for the lead on the high side.

Back out in front, Nemechek started to pull away, but lapped traffic again became a factor and Sauter started reeling the leader back in.

On lap 196, Nemechek slowed dramatically on the backstretch and Sauter pulled even with the leader, making the final pass for the lead on the low side coming through turns three and four with Friesen right on his bumper.

The eight drivers who make up the Truck Series playoff field
Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

Friesen looked to have a chance of getting to Sauter on the next lap but Sauter threw a block using a the lapped truck of Clay Greenfield as a pick, which gave him just enough of a cushion to hold on to make it to the finish ahead of Friesen, who finished runner-up for the third time this season but managed to race his way in the playoffs as the fifth seed.

“That was probably the most fun I’ve had all year," Friesen said. “Bumping and grinding, and no better guys to race with than John Hunter and Johnny. We’ll take it and move on."

Nemechek, who is running only a part-time schedule in the truck series, said a fuel pump issue cost him the race.

“At a loss for words. We put on a clinic tonight, led a ton of laps!" Nemechek tweeted after the race. “Had motor issues at the end of the race while leading and came home 3rd. Another one that slipped away! Learn from it and get better! Looking forward to the future."

Grant Enfinger secured the sixth playoff spot, followed by Justin Haley and two-time truck series champion Matt Crafton.

RACE RESULTS

Finish Start # Driver Sponsor/Make Laps Led Points Status
1 4 21 Johnny Sauter GMS Fabrication Chevrolet 200 58 58 Running
2 13 52 Stewart Friesen We Build America Chevrolet 200 0 46 Running
3 3 8 J.H. Nemechek D.A.B. ConstructorsChevrolet 200 104 0 Running
4 6 75 Parker Kligerman Food Country USA Chevrolet 200 0 43 Running
5 8 4 Todd Gilliland Banfield Pet Hospital Toyota 200 0 32 Running
6 11 24 Justin Haley Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet 200 0 35 Running
7 2 41 Ben Rhodes FEI World Equestrian Games Ford 200 0 40 Running
8 18 88 Matt Crafton Great Lakes Wood Floors/Menards Ford 200 0 29 Running
9 7 18 Noah Gragson Safelite AutoGlass Toyota 200 7 30 Running
10 5 98 Grant Enfinger Champion Power Equipment Ford 200 0 37 Running
11 16 25 Dalton Sargeant Performance Plus Motor Oil Chevrolet 200 0 27 Running
12 10 38 Ross Chastain Niece Equipment Chevrolet 199 0 0 Running
13 24 22 Austin Wayne Self GO TEXAN Chevrolet 199 0 24 Running
14 19 20 Tanner Thorson Ohio Logistics Chevrolet 198 0 23 Running
15 20 54 Riley Herbst Advance Auto Parts/NOS/ORCA Toyota 198 0 22 Running
16 25 9 Codie Rohrbaugh Grant County Mulch Chevrolet 198 0 21 Running
17 30 15 Stefan Parsons Phoenix Construction Chevrolet 198 0 20 Running
18 14 16 Brett Moffitt Otics USA Inc./Toyota Tsusho Toyota 198 0 27 Running
19 15 2 Cody Coughlin JEGS.com Chevrolet 198 0 18 Running
20 21 68 Clay Greenfield AMVETS Please Stand Chevrolet 197 0 17 Running
21 23 2 Austin Hill Young's Building Systems/Randco Chevrolet 197 0 16 Running
22 29 3 Jordan Anderson Rusty's Off Road Chevrolet 197 0 15 Running
23 32 49 Wendell Chavous SobrietyNation Chevrolet 196 0 14 Running
24 31 45 Justin Fontaine # ProMATIC AutomationChevrolet 196 0 13 Running
25 26 4 Cory Roper Preferred Industrial Contractors Inc. Ford 195 0 12 Running
26 9 97 Jesse Little Wings Over North Georgia Ford 194 0 11 Running
27 27 7 Korbin Forrister Now Matters More Toyota 188 0 10 Running
28 1 51 Christopher Bell Hunt Brothers Pizza Toyota 184 31 0 Running
29 17 13 Myatt Snider The Carolina Nut Co. Ford 161 0 8 Power
30 12 42 Chad Finley Auto Value Certified Service Centers Chevrolet 61 0 7 Engine
31 22 30 Scott Lagasse Jr. On Point Motorsports Toyota 24 0 0 Accident
32 28 83 Bayley Currey Chasco Constructors Chevrolet 13 0 5 Accident


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