Johnny Sauter wins at Martinsville, advances to Truck championship race

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Johnny Sauter punched his ticket to the Camping World Truck Series championship round by winning Saturday’s Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville Speedway.

It was Sauter’s second victory of the year – he also won the season-opening race at Daytona. The victory also was Sauter’s third on Martinsville’s .526-mile paper-clip track.

Sauter, who has 16 top-10 finishes this season, takes over the Truck Series points lead with the 12th win of his Truck Series career.

MORE: Results of Texas Roadhouse 250 at Martinsville

MORE: Sauter takes lead in Truck Series standings

Ironically, Sauter finished last in this year’s spring race at Martinsville. He came full circle Saturday, holding off runner-up Chase Elliott. John Hunter Nemechek was third, Christopher Bell fourth and Timothy Peters ffith. Bell and Peters are Chase drivers.

The other Round of 6 Chase drivers placed in the top 20: William Byron (eighth), Matt Crafton (17th) and Ben Kennedy (18th).

Elliott led the most laps (109) in the 200-lap event; Sauter led 50.

Two-time Truck Series champion Crafton battled brake issues all day, but pass some trucks late to earn what could potentially be valuable points to reach the championship round.

“We just have to have a little luck on our side,” Crafton told Fox Sports 1. “I just had to try and manage what I had. All of a sudden, I felt something pop and the pedal went to the floor. To do what we did at the end, to have three brake calipers and pass a few trucks to salvage a few extra points, I guess we had the best day we could.”

HOW SAUTER WON THE RACE: He paced himself while Chase Elliott dominated. Sauter took the lead for good on the Lap 176 restart. Elliott appeared as if he might catch Sauter in the closing laps, but Sauter held Elliott off.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Chase Elliott finished second in his first start in the Truck Series since 2013. … Christopher Bell and Timothy Peters helped their respective Chase with top-five showings. … John Hunter Nemechek had a strong race, leading 18 laps en route to his third-place finish.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Brothers Kevin and Kyle Donahue both had a rough day. Kevin finished 30th, while Kyle was involved in a wreck with Josh White on Lap 50 and finished 31st. … Chase driver Ben Kennedy spun after behing hit from behind by Ben Rhodes on Lap 174. John Wes Townley couldn’t stop and slammed into Kennedy. Townley’s front end was heavily damaged, while Kennedy had to have repairs to his right rear fender area. After the race, Kennedy also had a post-race confrontation with Rhodes that was quickly broken up.

NOTABLE: Harrison Burton, son of former Sprint Cup driver and current NBC NASCAR analyst Jeff Burton, had a decent debut going in the Truck Series until he spun on Lap 161, finishing 22nd.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I feel like it’s one of the smartest races I’ve ever ran – and people don’t accuse me of being very smart a lot of times.” – Race winner Johnny Sauter.

WHAT’S NEXT: The middle race of the Round of 6, the Longhorn 350, is Friday, Nov. 4, at Texas Motor Speedway.

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