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Johnny Sauter Holds On To Win Dover Truck Series Race

JEGS 200 at Dover International Speedway
Friday, May 4, 2018

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Johnny Sauter celebrates in Dover
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

After what had happened moments earlier, Johnny Sauter's victory in a two-lap overtime shootout seemed almost routine by comparison.

Sauter, who turned 40 on May 1, held off fellow 40-something Matt Crafton to win Friday's JEGS 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Dover International Speedway-but not until Sauter won an intense struggle against pole winner Noah Gragson, whose race ended on the next-to-last lap of regulation when his No. 18 Toyota backed hard into the outside wall.

The victory was Sauter's second straight at Dover, his second of the season and the 19th of his career. And it came during a bittersweet week for GMS Racing, after Spencer Gallagher, the son of team owner Maury Gallagher, won his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Talladega and on Tuesday was suspended indefinitely for a violation of NASCAR's substance abuse policy.

"Tough week for the Gallagher family-this one's for Spencer,” Sauter said. "He's a smart kid, and he'll get it right.”

Gragson grabbed the lead from Sauter one circuit after a restart on Lap 188 of a scheduled 200, but Sauter wasn't finished. With six laps left, Sauter got a strong run to the outside, but Gragson cut him off, and Sauter's No. 21 Chevrolet tapped the wall.

"We had to work for this one today,” Sauter said. "Noah, I had a good run on him there, and he squeezed me off. And I was like, ‘He just gave me the green light to be aggressive.' This was just hard racing right there.”

The drivers were racing side-by-side for the lead coming to the white flag when Gragson's attempt to side-draft Sauter's Silverado went awry. Gragson lost control and crashed, destroying the rear end of his Kyle Busch Motorsports Tundra.

Gragson, who won't turn 20 until July 15, was disconsolate when he left the infield care center after the wreck.

"I'm really disappointed in myself,” he said. "It's just a racing deal. These things are so hard to win, and I was so close to getting my first win (of the season). I went up to side-draft him and got pointed to the inside wall and went up to side-draft him again-and it was just a racing deal.

"Not the way I try to race people. I take full responsibility in that right there. It was a hundred percent my fault. It's just unacceptable on my part. Man, I was so close to winning. All I can think about is just the mistake I made. I really wanted to get that monster (trophy). This is such a bad-ass track, and not to be able to get it done… I'm just devastated.”

Johnny Sauter (21) takes the checkered flag
Robert Laberge/Getty Images

After Gragson's wreck and subsequent cleanup, the race restarted on Lap 209. Crafton got an excellent restart and held his own against Sauter through the first two corners but couldn't clear him. Sauter then pulled out to a two car-length lead and took the checkered flag a lap later.

"We just did not have short-run speed,” said the 41-year-old Crafton. "For whatever reason, it would just not fire off. I had a really good restart there at the end, and I moved him up as far as I could. I was waiting for Stevie (Reeves), the spotter to tell me, ‘Clear, clear.' I knew I was close, real close.

"Johnny turned 40 this week, so he's part of the old man crew, and we got a lot of flak this week by being the 40-year-olds, but the 40-year-olds showed the kids how to do it, I guess.”

One of those kids, 19-year-old Justin Haley, ran a solid, consistent third. David Gilliland came home fourth in his second start of the season, and Harrison Burton finished fifth. Cody Coughlin, Joe Nemechek, Ben Rhodes, Jesse Little and Todd Gilliland (David's son) completed the top 10.

Sauter extended his series lead to 51 points over second-place Rhodes and 58 over third-place Gragson.

RACE RESULTS

Finish Start # Driver Sponsor/Make laps Led Points Status
1 2 21 Johnny Sauter Allegiant Airlines Chevrolet 210 137 57 Running
2 10 88 Matt Crafton Chi-Chi's/Menards Ford 210 0 47 Running
3 4 24 Justin Haley Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet 210 0 51 Running
4 9 54 David Gilliland Frontline Enterprises/Crosley Brands Toyota 210 0 38 Running
5 17 51 Harrison Burton DEX Imaging Toyota 210 0 36 Running
6 18 2 Cody Coughlin Jeg's.com Chevrolet 210 0 31 Running
7 16 8 Joe Nemechek ACME Grocery Store Chevrolet 210 0 32 Running
8 8 41 Ben Rhodes Alpha Energy Solutions Ford 210 0 39 Running
9 5 97 Jesse Little PFC Brakes/Penske Racing Shocks Ford 210 2 40 Running
10 3 4 Todd Gilliland # Pedigree Toyota 209 0 39 Running
11 15 13 Myatt Snider # Louisiana Hot Sauce Ford 209 0 27 Running
12 12 16 Brett Moffitt AISIN Group Toyota 209 0 25 Running
13 11 25 Dalton Sargeant # Performance Plus Motor Oil Chevrolet 209 0 24 Running
14 13 98 Grant Enfinger Champion Power Equipmen Ford 208 0 23 Running
15 21 22 Austin Wayne Self Don't Mess With Texas Chevrolet 208 0 22 Running
16 20 20 Tanner Thorson Go Share Chevrolet 207 0 21 Running
17 24 49 Wendell Chavous SobrietyNation.org Chevrolet 206 0 20 Running
18 19 3 Jordan Anderson Bommarito.com/Lucas Oil Chevrolet 206 0 19 Running
19 22 45 Justin Fontaine # ProMATIC Automatic Chevrolet 204 0 18 Running
20 1 18 Noah Gragson Safelite Toyota 198 60 34 Accident
21 23 7 Korbin Forrister Toyota 197 0 16 Running
22 30 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb Driven2Honor.org Chevrolet 194 0 15 Running
23 7 52 Stewart Friesen We Build America Chevrolet 153 0 15 Accident
24 28 74 Mike Harmon(i) Horizon Transport/Chill Chevrolet 129 0 0 Suspension
25 27 33 Josh Reaume JC Racing Toyota 124 0 12 Parked
26 25 83 Bayley Currey Fr8Auctions.com Chevrolet 122 0 11 Suspension
27 31 6 Norm Benning Zomongo Chevrolet 120 0 10 Parked
28 6 75 Parker Kligerman Food Country USA Chevrolet 86 11 9 Oil Cooler
29 29 63 Camden Murphy MB Motorsports Chevrolet 58 0 8 Vibration
30 26 15 Reed Sorenson(i) Chevrolet 15 0 0 Vibration
31 14 2 Austin Hill United Rentals Chevrolet 13 0 6 Accident
32 32 50 Todd Peck Fluidyne Chevrolet 7 0 5 Rear End

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