Johnny Sauter Takes Home Checkered Flag in Camping World Truck Series Season Opener

Written by Adrian Beecher
DAYTONA BEACH , Fla. – Johnny Sauter captured his third career NextEra Energy Resources 250 victory on Friday evening at Daytona International Speedway. The win makes him the winningest truck series driver at Daytona. The victory did not come easy and was a wild one from start to finish.

Here’s how it all went down under the lights at the World Center of Racing.

After winning the pole, David Gilliland in the No. 4 Pedigree Toyota led the field to the drop of the green flag to get the NextEra Energy Resources 250. He would maintain that lead for the first lap to officially get the 2018 Camping World Truck Series season underway!

The first yellow flag of the season didn’t take very long to rear its head. It came on laps 3 for possible fluid on the track from the No. 50 Rhino Rush Energy of Travis Kvapil on the backstretch.

When they got back to green flag racing on lap 6, it was Johnny Sauter in the No. 21 Allegiant Airlines Chevrolet out in front, with Gilliland to his left in 2nd. On lap eight Gilliland would regain the lead. The two continued to battle for the lead throughout the 1st stage, trading the lead back and forth. However, it was Gilliland taking the green white checkered at the end of stage 1.

On lap 25 the field went back to green flag racing with Korbin Forrister in the No. 7 Tru Clear Globe Toyota in the lead. However, the lead didn’t last long. In fact, as the field made their way into turn two, Noah Gregson in the No. 18 Safelite Autoglass Toyota took the lead easily.

After getting a sloppy restart, Sauter was able to make his way back to the lead on lap 27. After Sauter took the lead things calmed down on the track, with Sauter leading all the way through the end of stage 2.

Then came the final stage, or as some would call it, the chaos stage. It was Gilliland back in the lead at the restart on lap 46. The next five laps saw as many lead changes, with Gilliland getting back to the front of the pack on lap 51.

The caution once again flew on lap 55 as the No. 98 Champion Power Equipment Ford of Grant Enfinger got loose off turn four. This cause care to sprawl in different directions. The Jennifer Jo Cobb in the No. 10 Think Reality Chevrolet took the hardest hit as she slammed into the inside wall ahead of the pit road entrance. Her car immediately burst into flames momentarily. She was able to get out of the car under her own power and would be cleared later from the infield care center.

Others involved in that wreck was the No. 2 of Cody Coughlin, the No. 88 of Matt Crofton, No. 20 of Scott Lagasse Jr. and the No. 25 of Dalton Sargeant. The field would go back green on lap 61, but not for very long.

Lap 64 saw the caution fly once again as the No. 54 of Bo LeMastus got loose coming out of turn four, sliding down and off the track. Noah Gregson in the no. 18 tried to avoid LeMastus, yet ended up getting into the outside wall.

When they went back green on lap 69, it was John H. Nemecheck in the No. 8 Fleetwing Corporation Chevrolet in the lead, with his father Joe Nemechek in the No. 87 riding in 2nd. On the ensuing lap, John Nemechek tried to make a block fo the lead causing contact giving him a tire rub.

This allowed Gilliland in the No. 4 to make the pass for the lead on Lap 71 on the backstretch. As the field entered turn 3, the right rear tire on the no. 8 of John H. Nemechek blew, destroying his car and bringing out yet another caution.

The No. 16 of Brett Moffitt and No. 52 of Stewart Friesen then went nose first into the outside wall after the 52 got into the back of 16. This would cause eight laps of caution laps, that saw the green flag drop again on lap 81.

However, before the field could make it around to the start-finish line, chaos once again ensued. The No. 68 of Clay Greenfield got loose and slid down the track into the No. 28 of Bryan Dauzat. This then sent Greenfield into the outer wall going head first. His car then clipped the No. 88of Crafton, whose entire right side quarter panel was destroyed. The No. 02 of Austin Hill and the No. 7 of Korbin Forrister was involved as well.

NASCAR would red flag the field for almost 5 minutes as they cleaned up the wreckage. The field got back to green flag racing with just 14 laps to go with Justin Haley in the No. 24 Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet in the lead.

Haley would lead the field, staving off attempts from other competitors for the next nine laps, before Gilliland was finally able to pass him with just nine laps to go. However, Johnny Sauter in the No. 21 stole the show on the next lap, passing Gilliland and taking the lead.

Sauter would execute his blocks to a T and run nearly perfect lines around the track for the final eight laps as he captured the checkered flag in the 19th Annual NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona.

“Hats off to my guys, just the greatest group of guys I’ve ever been around, and to be in Victory Lane, just pumped up and got a long way to go to try to get another championship” said and elated and exhausted Sauter after the race.

The Camping World Truck Series drivers will now move their focus to Atlanta Motor Speedway where they will race in the Active Pest Control 200 benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta on Saturday, February 24th with a scheduled start at 4:30 p.m. ET.

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