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Johnny Sauter Becomes Four-Time Martinsville Winner

by Amy Henderson
Saturday, October 27, 2018

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Johnny Sauter wins at Martinsville
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
Nobody does Martinsville Speedway better in the Camping World Truck Series than Johnny Sauter. 

Sauter won his fourth race at Martinsville and his sixth race this season in Saturday as he took the win in the Texas Roadhouse 200 along with every available stage and playoff point up for grabs. The 40-year-old veteran dominated once pit strategy played into his hands, and he held off all comers once he got there, leading 148 of 200 laps. Brett Moffitt, Myatt Snider, Ben Rhodes and Kyle Benjamin rounded out the top 5.

Also with top 10 finishes on the day were Justin Haley, Noah Gragson, Harrison Burton, Christian Eckes and local favorite Timothy Peters.

Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates started the day with the trucks to beat. Todd Gilliland won his first career pole with Harrison Burton in second and title contender Noah Gragson in third. Gilliland jumped out to a 10-truck-length lead early with Burton holding his own in second under pressure from Ben Rhodes. Gragson slipped back to third as both Rhodes and GrantEnfinger squeezed by on the outside before settling into line.

Before 30 laps were up, Martinsville ace and title contender Johnny Sauter made his way aggressively from eighth to third before the first caution flew on lap 30 for a solo crash by Chad Finley. The caution brought the leaders to the pits for tires and adjustments. Sauter stayed out to take over the race lead, bringing a handful of others with him, including Gragson.

Sauter led the rest of the way in Stage 1, winning the playoff point as well as the 10 stage points. Gragson, Matt Crafton, Enfinger and Timothy Peters the top 5. All five elected not to pit under the caution.

The field didn’t make a lap before trouble found the field.  Stewart Friesen’s flat tire sent him spinning in Turn 1 to bring the caution back out.  Friesen suffered little damage in the single-truck incident but lost a lap as the truck would not refire without assistance.

Sauter handily led all of Stage 2, though Gragson closed to within a truck-length as they encountered lapped traffic late.  The biggest battle in the stage was for third.  Crafton and Enfinger battled with Enfinger giving his teammate a couple of warning shots to which Crafton responded by threatening to send Enfinger’s truck home in a box.  While those two were fighting between themselves, Gilliland towed John Hunter Nemechek past both of them on the outside before Nemechek took the spot for the stage points with Gilliland fourth and Crafton fifth.

Kyle Benjamin stayed out under the stage caution to lead, but Sauter made quick work of him on the restart, though Benjamin was able to hold his own in second.  Myatt Snider also benefitted from a two-tire stop and ran in the top five with under 70 to go. Crafton and Gragson both had slow stops and were left to fight their way back toward the front in the final stage.

A spin by Dawson Cram erased a nearly 5-second lead for Sauter with under 50 laps to go. The restart from that incident got wild, with Myatt Snyder shoving Sauter out of the way to take the lead.  Sauter had some damage but came up for air in second.  Enfinger was the loser in the exchange as he was sent spinning in the chain reaction, costing the title contender a lot of positions and points.

On what would be the final restart, Sauter was able to handily get back around Snider on the outside and from there drove on to the win, the 23rd of his career.

Johnny Sauter beats Brett Moffitt to win the Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville
Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
Sauter says that Friday’s practice rainout might actually have been a blessing in disguise for his team.  “Joe (Shear, crew chief) and the guys did a lot of work in the weeks preceding this race and had a lot of stuff to try, and then we get here and practice rained out,” Sauter said after the race. “So I was like ‘now what are we gonna do?’ and (Joe) was like, ‘Well, go back to our old faithful setup’ so I’m glad it rained now!”

Sauter didn’t take kindly to Snider’s move, but cleared him on the restart with no more than a little incidental contact. From there, it was smooth sailing for Sauter to the checkers, while Snider relinquished second to Moffitt in the closing laps.

The win sends Sauter to the championship race at Homestead with a chance for a second series title. He leaves Martinsville as the Truck Series point leader by 29 over Gragson. Moffitt is third in points, Enfinger is fourth, Haley fifth and Crafton holds the sixth spot as the series heads to Texas next week.

RACE RESULTS

Finish Start # Driver Sponsor/Make Laps Led Points Status
1 8 21 Johnny Sauter (P) ISM Connect Chevrolet 200 148 60 Running
2 17 16 Brett Moffitt (P) AW N.C./AISIN Group Toyota 200 0 37 Running
3 16 13 Myatt Snider # Louisiana Hot Sauce Ford 200 7 34 Running
4 4 41 Ben Rhodes The Carolina Nut Co. Ford 200 0 40 Running
5 5 17 Kyle Benjamin(i)Crosley Brands/DGR Crosley Toyota 200 6 0 Running
6 13 24 Justin Haley (P) Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet 200 035 Running
7 3 18 Noah Gragson (P) Safelite AutoGlass Toyota 200 0 48 Running
8 2 51 Harrison Burton Morton Buildings Toyota 200 0 32 Running
9 12 46 Christian Eckes Craftsman Toyota 200 0 28 Running
10 9 23 Timothy Peters AutosbyNelson.com Chevrolet 200 0 34 Running
11 11 52 Stewart Friesen We Build America Chevrolet 200 0 26 Running
12 1 4 Todd Gilliland
JBL/SiriusXM Toyota 200 39 32 Running
13 10 88 Matt Crafton (P) Chi-Chis/Menards Ford 200 0 38 Running
14 6 98 Grant Enfinger (P) Protect the Harvest Ford 200 0 33 Running
15 22 30 Jeb Burton(i) Strutmasters.com/SparrowRanch.org Toyota200 0 0 Running
16 14 75 Parker KligermanFood Country USA Chevrolet200 0 21 Running
17 25 25 Tyler DippelAmerica First/Turning Point USA Chevrolet 200 0 20 Running
18 19 54 Tyler Ankrum May's Hawaii/Crosley Brands Toyota 200 0 23 Running
19 15 2 Sheldon Creed AM Ortega/United Rentals Chevrolet 200 0 18 Running
20 7 2 Austin HillYoung's Building Systems/Randco Chevrolet 200 0 17 Running
21 27 99 Chase Purdy Bama Buggies Chevrolet 200 0 16 Running
22 21 63 Kyle Donahue First Responder Racing Chevrolet 200 0 15 Running
23 29 22 Austin Wayne Self GO TEXAN Chevrolet 200 0 14 Running
24 23 83 Dawson Cram RGS Products/THP Chevrolet 199 0 13 Running
25 24 49 DJ Kennington SobrietyNation.org Chevrolet 199 0 12 Running
26 26 3 Jordan AndersonCommercial Property Services Chevrolet 199 0 11 Running
27 28 45 Justin Fontaine
ProMATIC Automation Chevrolet 197 0 10 Running
28 31 15 Brad Foy Strutmasters.com Chevrolet 194 0 9 Running
29 32 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb Driven2Honor Chevrolet 189 0 8 Running
30 18 8 John Hunter NemechekOllie's Bargain Outlet Chevrolet177 0 0 Rear Gear
31 30 20 Tanner Thorson Go Share Chevrolet 137 0 6 Brakes
32 20 33 Chad Finley Airlift/Strutmasters.com Chevrolet 35 0 5 Accident


 

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