Johnny Sauter held off Kaz Grala to win Friday’s Bar Harbor 200 presented by Sea Watch International at Dover International Speedway. It was the defending Truck Series champion’s first victory this season and his 14th career win.
It was the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’s sixth race of the 2017 season. The race included three stages. Stage 1 and 2 were 45 laps each with a final stage of 110 laps. Chase Briscoe and Ryan Truex set the front row in qualifying.
As Stage 1 began, Truex immediately set a blistering pace. However, a few cautions slowed the pace. A wreck took place on Lap 21, where Austin Hill, Stewart Friesen and Cody Coughlin got into each other to bring out the first caution. Another incident took place on Lap 35, when Christopher Bell cut down a left rear tire and hit the wall. This would end Bell’s day.
Barring a few cautions, Ryan Truex held on to win the first stage.
Stage 2 began on Lap 53 with Matt Crafton and Justin Haley on the front row after staying out under yellow.
Just like Stage 1, multiple cautions were once again a factor. The first one was on Lap 73, when Haley spun off Turn 4 followed by a second caution on Lap 84 by Jordan Anderson who stalled just before the entry of pit road. Under the caution, Parker Kligerman and Chase Briscoe made pit stops to try a different pit strategy.
With two to go for the restart in Stage 2, Crafton set sail, but a caution came out on the final lap for Kligerman and John Hunter Nemechek who got together on the frontstretch. With the caution taking place on the final lap of Stage 2, the stage ended under caution with Crafton as the leader. Crafton would end up winning Stage 2.
Stage 3 began on lap 99 with Ben Rhodes out in front. Rhodes was dominating early, but another caution slowed the pace with 84 laps to go for Todd Gilliland who had a wheel issue and smacked the wall in Turn 2. Gilliland’s day would be cut short.
With 79 laps to go for the restart, Rhodes and Jesse Little set the pace. Rhodes went to the point once the green flag went back out. As laps clipped by, pit stops began to happen with 47 laps to go with Little pitting. However, Little stalled the truck and this would end any shot for him to win the race. Stage 1 winner, Ryan Truex, made his pit stop with 42 laps to go.
The race leader, Rhodes, pitted with 36 to go, while Crafton entered the pits a few laps later. Sauter stayed out, gambling that clean air would play a factor. With all the pit stops taking place, a caution came out with 30 laps to go for Chase Briscoe, whose left front tire came off.
The final restart of the race came with 25 laps to go. Sauter and Daytona Truck winner, Kaz Grala, were out in front. The race was winding down and with that, Grala was trying his all to catch Sauter. However, the gamble paid off for Sauter and he went on to win the Bar Harbor 200 at Dover.
“Some days when you wake up, you don’t think it’s going to be your day and things don’t seem to be clicking and I felt like we were just off a little bit all weekend,” Sauter said after the race. “But so proud of everyone at GMS Racing, a 1-2 finish today. Joe Shear (Jr., crew chief), what a great call that was to try and make it on fuel. Pit stops were great today.”
“Unbelievable, after three second-place finishes to get a win. Definitely struggled today in traffic, just really, really tight. Just so proud of these guys. Man, they really executed today.”
There were eight cautions for 43 laps and five leaders among five lead changes. Sauter took the lead on lap 168 and never looked backed, leading once for 33 laps.
The next NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race is scheduled for Friday, June 9.