Johnny Sauter Falls One Spot Short In Search Of Consecutive Titles, Re-Signs With GMS Racing

by Briar Starr On Sat, Nov. 18, 2017

AVONDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 10: Johnny Sauter, driver of the No. 21 ISMConnect Chevrolet, poses with the winners sticker in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 10, 2017 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

The 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season has been a great one for 2016 champion Johnny Sauter but he fell one spot short of going back-to-back at the Homestead season finale.

Prior to getting to the Championship 4, Sauter advanced to the Playoffs with a win at Dover. He continued on a hot streak by placing in the top five and 10. Despite finishes of 23rd at Eldora and 18th at Michigan, Sauter qualified for the Playoffs and even won at Chicago before they started.

The wins at Texas and Phoenix were good enough to get him a spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami for the second consecutive year.

Sauter qualified a somewhat uncharacteristic 11th for the season finale. Throughout the race, he ran as high as third and as low as 14th and ran fifth mid-race. Sauter, placed eighth and fifth in both stages. When the race was all said and done, he placed fourth but it wasn’t enough for him to go back-to-back as Christopher Bell finished one spot ahead of him to win the 2017 series title.

With the 2017 season over for Sauter, he will end the year with four wins, 13 top fives and 19 top 10 finishes, with 455 laps led.

“We started the race way too free,” Sauter said. “We made some good adjustments for the first stop with the ISM Connect Chevy. The guys (crew) did a good job and I had a little better fire off speed on the next restart. Eventually, it would (truck) just go away on me and just die. You know, just way too free, especially corner exit which is crazy but I could never commit to the top. I would have to drive in straight and shallow in the corners because it was so free, and I could make really good time doing that by using a little brake and hard throttling it up off the corner.”

“At one point with 25 or 30 (laps) to go, we were running quicker than the 4 (Christopher Bell) and then, I just didn’t have anything left. I could not touch the throttle off corner exit, but we gave them all we had and when it comes down to one race like this that’s what you got. We just needed to be one spot better, I guess.”

Despite not going back-to-back in the Championship 4, Sauter’s 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season is set, as he is expected to be back with GMS Racing.

“I can’t thank the Gallagher family and Mike Beam enough for the opportunity they’ve given me the last two years,” Sauter said. “To be able to compete at this level, where you know you could win any given weekend, is incredible and I’m excited to be able to continue with the No. 21 team next year.”

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