Sauter Continues to Roll
Johnny Sauter made his third visit to victory lane on the season Friday night after claiming victory in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The win was the 20th of his truck career and first at Charlotte.
Qualifying was rained out earlier in the afternoon and Sauter started the race on the pole via his practice speed. Last week’s winner Noah Gragson started alongside Sauter and the two spent the first handful of laps side by side swapping the lead back and forth.
Stage 1 saw its only caution fly when Grant Enfinger cut a tire following contact with Cody Coughlin on lap 22. With the stage only being 30 laps the field split on strategy and many leaders, including Sauter, hit the pits. About a half dozen trucks stayed out led by Brett Moffitt when the stage restarted with 4 to go. Moffitt would hold on and earn his first ever stage win.
Moffitt opted once again not to pit and continued to lead as stage 2 got underway. His lead would be relinquished on lap 42 when John Hunter Nemechek took the top spot. Kyle Busch threatened Nemechek’s lead late in the stage but was unable to get by and the 8 won the stage.
Nemecheck would give the lead back to Moffitt in the pits but Moffitt would only manage to lead seven laps before Sauter powered past with 63 to go.
Justin Fontaine brought out the caution with 54 to go and most everyone hit the pits. Moffitt decided to play the contrary strategy and stayed out retaking the lead. When racing resumed with 49 to go it only took Sauter a single lap to retake the lead. Josh Reaume spun on the following lap bringing out another yellow which effectively killed Moffitt’s strategy and he hit the pits knowing fresh tires wouldn’t prove to be the advantage he’d hoped for.
Gragson ran down Sauter over the next run and seemed to be a legitimate threat for the lead but Gragson’s hopes went out the window after his teammate and owner Kyle Busch got him sideways on a restart with 17 to go which sent Gragson back in traffic.
Despite Busch’s notorious success in trucks, he had nothing for Sauter in the closing laps as the 21 drove away to victory.