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After earning stage points in every race this season, reigning Camping World Truck Series champion Johnny Sauter stepped it up Friday with a trip to Victory Lane. Sauter put an end to his winless streak at Dover International Speedway, likely ensuring himself a playoff position in the process.
Due to an eventful, strategy-filled final stage, Sauter went on to lead the final 33 laps of the race when a caution came out during a cycle of green-flag pit stops for a tire falling off pole-sitter Chase Briscoe‘s truck. The yellow caught both Ben Rhodes and Ryan Truex a lap down, despite dominating the first 170 laps of the event.
That paved the way for Sauter to conquer the Monster Mile. Prior to his victory, he had a best result of third at Dover, coming in 2014. In eight career starts at the one-mile oval, he had never led a lap, producing an average finishing position of 9.8.
“I felt like in the past, I had trucks that were good enough to win here,” Sauter said post-race. “I don’t care what kind of race it is, circumstances still have to go your way. We got through Charlotte with a second-place finish, so the confidence was pretty high coming here.”
It’ll be much higher leaving this track. Sauter came into Dover as the championship leader and increased his margin significantly as Christopher Bell crashed out on Lap 37, coming home 25th. Through six races this season, the No. 21 truck has one victory, a pair of second-place finishes and a trio of third-place efforts.
Receiving his high school diploma while driver introductions were going on, Kaz Grala finished second to his GMS Racing teammate. With 50 laps to go, the No. 33 truck got into the wall, but he was able to capitalize on track position while pitting on the final caution.
“It made us freer when it first happened,” Grala said post-race. “I think I knocked a little bit of side force off of it. But we made an adjustment on that last pit stop and we were all set from there. It didn’t affect the wheel or suspension.”
While Grala caught Sauter as the No. 21 truck was leading on older tires, Grant Enfinger entered the bout for the victory. He brought the No. 98 truck home to a season-best third place.
“It’s so hard to pass here,” Enfinger said. “Kaz was better than Johnny, and I thought maybe we were a little bit better than both of them, if we had started in front. If we could have ever got underneath them, I think we could have made something happen. Track position was king.”
Rhodes got the free pass on the final caution and rebounded to finish fourth. Austin Cindric finished fifth, his first career top-five result in the series.
There were eight cautions for 43 laps as the Monster Mile lived up to its reputation for being tough on equipment. Among those who failed to finish due to crashes were Parker Kligerman, TJ Bell, and John Hunter Nemechek.
The series’ next event will take place next Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway. Sauter won last November at the track, a place he has been triumphant at three times.
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