Experience Wins Again
Johnny Sauter captured his second checkered flag of the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season at Dover on Friday in the Jegs 200. Sauter dominated the race leading well over half the laps but it was anything but an easy afternoon for the series veteran.
Polesitter Noah Gragson appeared to have the truck to beat in the early going as he led all 45 laps in stage 1 earning a playoff point in the process. Gragson would drop several spots on the first round of pit stops and the 75 of Parker Kligerman assumed the lead after taking no tires.
Kligerman had a strong truck but he was no match for Sauter and on lap 61 the Allegiant Travel Chevy would lead for the first time. Kligerman appeared to be mounting a comeback but he was derailed in the final laps of stage 2 when his truck began spitting out smoke due to an oil leak. The 75 was black flagged and forced to surrender the second position. Josh Reaume spun exiting turn 4 and smacked the inside wall with just two laps to go in the stage; ending it prematurely. Sauter would get the stage win.
Stage 3 would see another challenger enter the mix for the lead as Jesse Little made a run at Sauter’s lead. Little took the lead with 79 laps to go after Sauter was run up the track by the slower truck of Jordan Anderson. Little’s time out front was short-lived as Sauter reclaimed the lead two laps later. A Stewart Friesen caution with 45 laps remaining allowed all the leaders to pit for the last time. Little’s hopes of winning went out the window as he pitted with his right front tire on the line drawing a pitting outside the box penalty which put him down a lap.
With 20 laps remaining Sauter avoided near disaster as Anderson tangled with Justin Fontaine on the backstretch mere car lengths in front of the leader. Sauter escaped with no damage. The ensuing restart with 13 to go saw Gragson return to the lead and he and Sauter battled fiercely for the top spot over the next 11 laps. With two to go Sauter got his nose back out in front and the two raced doorhandle to doorhandle going down the back stretch bouncing off each other in the process. The last bump was too much for Gragson and his 18 Tundra was sent sliding off into turn three where his backed hard into the outside wall.
Gragson’s misfortune would push the Jegs 200 into overtime when Sauter easily held off the likes of Matt Crafton and Justin Haley for the win.