The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series had a home race Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Johnny Sauter was able to earn his 20th career victory, but he had to earn it with late race cautions and battles for the lead throughout the race
After rain canceled qualifying, it was Sauter and Kansas race winner Noah Gragson, on the front row after the field was set by owner points.
The stages were broken up into 30/30/74 laps.
After battling weather conditions all day long, the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 took the green flag in the first stage with a battle as Sauter and Gragson battled side-by-side for multiple laps until Gragson broke away by Lap 10. An early caution came out, however, on Lap 21 as Grant Enfinger cut down a right rear tire.
During the pit stops, there were a couple of penalties handed out as Myatt Snider pit outside the box and had to serve a one-lap penalty and Gragson was penalized for too fast exiting.
Eventual Stage 1 winner Brett Moffitt stayed out to win the first stage followed by Justin Haley, Sauter, Dalton Sargeant, John Hunter Nemechek, Kyle Busch, Parker Kligerman, Todd Gilliland, Matt Crafton and Jesse Little rounding out the top 10.
Stage 2 began on Lap 37 with Nemechek taking the lead several laps later. Not much happened for the 23 laps in the stage, as it remained caution free and the No. 8 driver won the stage.
Busch, Moffitt, Gilliland, Sauter, Ben Rhodes, Crafton, Haley, Brandon Jones and Gragson completed the top 10 for Stage 2.
Stage winner Nemechek suffered a slow pit stop and Kyle Busch’s team had another pit road penalty for being over the wall too soon.
Stage 3 was restarted with 67 to go. It wasn’t until Lap 72, where Sauter was able to take the lead back from Moffitt. The race was caution free until 54 to go as Justin Fontaine spun out in Turn 4 to bring out the fourth caution of the race.
Moffitt and Jesse Little stayed out to be the leaders on the initial restart and Busch again, was penalized for being over the wall too soon which set him back.
There were three more cautions in the remaining 50 laps. One for Josh Reaume with 47 to go, debris with 22 to go and again with 11 to go.
Before the last caution with 11 to go, Gragson got loose after a push from team owner Busch which almost spun him out on the restart. A half lap later, Austin Wayne Self spun in Turn 4 while Crafton and Gilliland had a run in with each other as well.
After the late race craziness, Sauter was able to hold on to win his first ever career Truck Series race at Charlotte.
“This is a tough place,” said Sauter. “Everyone wants to win here. I never thought I’d win here. To win this race is just super special. I never thought 40 would be so good.
“This is the biggest race of my career, and I’ve won a lot of big races. We kept making adjustments on the truck all night and made it better and better.”
Sauter led five times for 71 laps and earned five Playoff points. He now leads Gragson by 59 in regular season point standings.
There were seven cautions for 36 laps, along with five leaders among 12 lead changes.
NCWTS Charlotte Unofficial Results 5-18-18