After Johnny Sauter’s eight full-time seasons of racing in the tumultuous Camping World Truck Series, the Maury Gallagher Racer earned his first championship Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Sauter finished third on Friday night, out-racing fellow Championship 4 competitors Matt Crafton who finished seventh, Christopher Bell in eighth and Timothy Peters ninth at the 1.5 mile oval track in Miami.
This season, Johnny Sauter matched his career high in wins with three, and set a personal best in single-season top 10’s with 19. Sauter’s 13 career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victories tie him for 11th most all-time in series CWTS history.
The speedster of the # 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet started his 2016 season with a bang, claiming his second career win at Daytona International Speedway. As a result, he was the first driver to clinch a berth in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase.
After the Chase began, Johnny Sauter cruised through the Round of 8 with three consecutive top 10’s. The veteran flexed his muscle in the Round of 6, winning back-to-back races at Martinsville Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway.
He also followed up those wins with a second place result at Phoenix International Raceway. That victory, set the stage for his championship performance at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Sauter’s previous-best season finish, was a runner-up in 2011 with ThorSport Racing.
William Byron took the checkered flag in his # 9 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota. The youngster won his seventh race of the season Friday night in the Ford EcoBoost 200. It was Byron’s seventh win of 2016.
The Kyle Busch Motorsports Racer led 31 revolutions around the 1.5-mile track en route to Victory Lane. Byron also was named the winner of the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award. Along with his seven triumphs, Byron collected 11 top five’s and 16 top 10’s.
William Byron charged from sixth to the front after a restart on Lap 115, finally taking the lead from Tyler Reddick 10 laps later. The CWTS Rookie of the Year will drive a Chevrolet in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports next season. Christopher Bell, Byron’s teammate, will return to Kyle Busch Motorsports with an eye on the championship that got away from him in 2016.
“It feels awesome. It’s just — it’s incredible. I mean this team has worked so hard all year. We just had an unfortunate situation last week that we couldn’t control, but, man, they brought a good truck,” Byron said post-race, referencing his engine issues at Phoenix that led to his elimination from the postseason. “These guys just are awesome.”
When all was said and done, the night belonged to the veteran racer Johnny Sauter. The momentous driver who won his first NASCAR championship 15 years, after making his first NASCAR Xfinity Series start years ago.
“It’s not just me,” said Sauter, who started 19th after a lackluster qualifying effort. “It’s the whole team — everybody at GMS Racing. We qualified bad today, and really, I was kind of worried about it. But it felt pretty good in race trim…
Just proud of these guys. Flawless execution on pit road tonight. (Crew chief) Joe (Shear Jr.) made great adjustments to where I could just kind of hang on. I’m not a high line guy, so I just elected to keep doing my deal and found some pretty good grip around the bottom of the race track…
To be a champion … five years ago my old man was down here when I won the race. This is for him and for Joe Shear’s dad — great Midwest racers. My family’s here, my kids are here, my wife’s here. It’s just an awesome night. Proud to be champion, and we’ll do everything within our power to represent NASCAR and Camping World as best we can.” said Sauter.
Final Results for the 21st Annual Ford EcoBoost 200:
1. (1) William Byron #, Toyota, 134.
2. (7) Tyler Reddick, Ford, 134.
3. (19) Johnny Sauter (C), Chevrolet, 134.
4. (3) Kyle Larson(i), Chevrolet, 134.
5. (18) Daniel Hemric, Ford, 134.
6. (17) Daniel Suarez(i), Toyota, 134.
7. (4) Matt Crafton (C), Toyota, 134.
8. (8) Christopher Bell (C) #, Toyota, 134.
9. (13) Timothy Peters (C), Toyota, 134.
10. (2) Cole Custer #, Chevrolet, 134.
11. (6) John H Nemechek, Chevrolet, 134.
12. (22) Matt Tifft #, Toyota, 134.
13. (20) Rico Abreu #, Toyota, 134.
14. (14) Ben Kennedy, Chevrolet, 134.
15. (10) Noah Gragson, Toyota, 134.
16. (16) Cameron Hayley, Toyota, 134.
17. (24) Austin Hill, Ford, 134.
18. (12) Jesse Little, Toyota, 134.
19. (9) Brady Boswell, Chevrolet, 134.
20. (11) Ben Rhodes #, Toyota, 134.
21. (5) Spencer Gallagher, Chevrolet, 134.
22. (21) Scott Lagasse Jr(i), Chevrolet, 134.
23. (23) Grant Enfinger #, Ford, 134.
24. (30) Jordan Anderson, Chevrolet, 134.
25. (27) Austin Wayne Self #, Toyota, 133.
26. (29) Alon Day, Chevrolet, 131.
27. (32) Travis Kvapil, Chevrolet, 131.
28. (28) Reed Sorenson(i), Chevrolet, 130.
29. (25) Stewart Friesen, Chevrolet, 128.
30. (31) Spencer Boyd, Chevrolet, 128.
31. (26) Patrick Staropoli, Chevrolet, 125.
32. (15) Ryan Truex, Toyota, Engine, 49.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 129.747 mph.
Time of Race: 1 Hrs, 32 Mins, 57 Secs. Margin of Victory: 2.175 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 4 for 18 laps.
Lead Changes: 15 among 5 drivers.
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