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Johnny Sauter earns first Truck win of season and first career triumph at Dover

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Veteran Johnny Sauter held off hard-charging rookie Kaz Grala to win Friday’s Bar Harbor 200 Camping World Truck Series race at Dover International Speedway.

It was the first win of the season for the reigning Truck champion and the 14th of his career. It was first career win at the Monster Mile. He had never led a lap at the track until today.

Sauter also broke a streak of three consecutive runner-up finishes, and made it a 1-2 finish for GMS Racing.

“I’m so proud of everyone at GMS and the 1-2 finish,” said Sauter, who led 33 laps in the 200-lap event. “It’s just a great day, unbelievable after three second-place finishes to get a win.”

MORE: Results from Friday’s Bar Harbor 200 Truck Series race at Dover

MORE: Truck Series driver standings after Bar Harbor 200 at Dover

 

The 18-year-old Grala, who skipped his high school graduation to race today, showed the maturity of a veteran and crept closer to Sauter in the final laps but could not get close enough to make a pass for the win.

“We were close,” Grala said. “Overall, it was a solid day. These races are all about track position and clean air. This was a really good race car, glad we got another top-five and it was another good points day.”

Rookie Grant Enfinger bounced back from a wreck earlier in the race to finish third, followed by Ben Rhodes, who led a race-high 71 laps, and rookie Austin Cindric.

Sixth through 10th were Brandon Jones, Regan Smith, rookie Justin Haley, rookie Noah Gragson and Ryan Truex.

Truex won the first stage. Matt Crafton won the second stage, his first stage win of the season.

HOW SAUTER WON: After three straight runner-up finishes, Sauter had his doubts that he’d have a good truck today. But he used patience and veteran wiles to not only get to the front, but also to hold off teammate Kaz Grala.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Grant Enfinger bounced back from an early wreck to finish third. Austin Cindric earned his best career finish with his fifth-place finish.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Christopher Bell came into the race second in the standings and had top-10 finishes in all prior races this season. He was in a three-truck wreck with nine laps to go in Stage 1 and his day was done. Bell finished 25th in the 32-truck field.

NOTABLE: Todd Gilliland’s Truck Series debut came to an end with 82 laps to go when he hit the wall and broke the suspension on his truck. He finished 20th. … Brad Keselowski Racing is facing some major penalties after Chase Briscoe left pit road late in the race and the left front tire fell off. According to the Truck Series rule book, “loss of wheel(s) due to improper installation will result in a mandatory minimum four Race suspension of the crew chief, tire changer and tire carrier for the lost wheel(s).”

QUOTE OF THE RACE: “There’s just some days when you wake up and don’t think it’s your day and don’t think things are clicking.” – Even so, Sauter still wound up winning the race.

WHAT’S NEXT: Friday, June 9 at 8 p.m. ET, WinstarOnlineGaming.com 400 at Texas Motor Speedway.

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Grant Enfinger wins Truck pole at Gateway

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With a speed of 138.867 mph, Grant Enfinger scored his second career Camping World Truck Series pole and will lead the field to green tonight for the Eaton 200. His first pole came on the restrictor plate Daytona International Speedway in February 2016.

Noah Gragson set a track record in round two of qualification with a speed of 139.035 mph. He slipped to third in the running order during round three.

Enfinger beat Christian Eckes (138.594 mph) by .064 seconds. Eckes is making only his second start in the Truck series. Last week he started ninth and finished eighth at Iowa Speedway.

Gragson (138.402), Justin Haley (138.325) and Ben Rhodes (138.211) rounded out the top five.

Johnny Sauter (137.358) failed to advance to the final round of qualification and will start 13th.

Camden Murphy and BJ McLeod failed to qualify.

Click here for the complete lineup.

Starting lineup for Sunday’s Cup race at Sonoma

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Kyle Larson won his second consecutive pole at Sonoma and will lead the field to the green flag for Sunday’s Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.

Martin Truex Jr. will line up alongside Larson on the front row.

Chase Elliott qualified third, the best of three Hendrick Motorsports drivers who advanced to the top 12. Jamie McMurray qualified fourth to place both Chip Ganassi Racing on the first two rows.

AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top five.

Click here for full qualification results.

 

Kyle Larson wins pole for Sonoma Cup race

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Kyle Larson posted a lap of 94.597 mph to win the pole for Sunday’s Toyota/SaveMart 350. It was his second consecutive pole at Sonoma and the sixth of his career.

Larson beat Martin Truex Jr. (94.484 mph) by .090 seconds.

Chase Elliott (94.461), Jamie McMurray (94.227) and AJ Allmendinger (93.925) rounded out the top five. He was fastest in round one of qualification with a speed of 94.477 mph.

Hendrick Motorsports placed three of their drivers in the final round. Jimmie Johnson (93.824) qualified seventh. William Byron (93.756) qualified eighth. Alex Bowman (93.267) qualified 17th.

In his first race back since Matt Kenseth took over the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, Trevor Bayne barely missed advancing to the final round. With a speed of 93.455 mph, he qualified 13th.

Clint Bowyer (93.252) was unable to back up his time from Friday’s practice and will roll off the grid 19th.

Click here for full qualification results.

For Clint Bowyer, Sonoma Raceway is a lot like Martinsville

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Clint Bowyer didn’t grow up road racing; he cut his teeth on dirt tracks in the Midwest. And yet, he had an immediate affinity for Sonoma Raceway. In his second start there, while driving for Richard Childress in 2007, he finished fourth.

In fact, Bowyer enters the Toyota/SaveMart 350 with seven top-five finishes in 12 starts that includes a runner-up finish in last year’s Sonoma race. If not for a couple of misfortunes (crash damage in 2010 and an electrical problem in 2016), he might well have swept the top 10 since scoring that first top five as a sophomore.

Perhaps the reason for that immediate success is that he considers Sonoma to be a twisted version of Martinsville Speedway – a track on which he won this March to snap a 190-race winless streak.

“I think you embrace this track and road racing in general just like you do Martinsville,” Bowyer said on Friday before heading out to put his No. 14 Ford at the top of the first practice speed chart. “Nobody shows up at Martinsville and goes to the top of the board and is fast and has success and navigates traffic to win that race right off the bat. It just doesn’t happen and it doesn’t happen here either.”

His Sonoma success has not translated to road courses in general, however.

Yes, Bowyer swept the top five on NASCAR’s two road courses last year, but the fifth-place finish he scored at Watkins Glen International was only the second of his career on a track that many drivers consider to be less technical than Sonoma. In 12 starts there, he has earned only five top 10s.

“Watkins Glen is so fast. It is just dive-bombs and you are really carrying a lot of speed at a place like Watkins Glen.

“Here, it is like that short track. It is like being at Martinsville. Did you see my car at the end of the race last year? It was destroyed. I drove up through and passed the field twice because of mistakes that we made and got spun out once. It was a wild race to be able to finish second. You can’t do that at Watkins Glen. That car wouldn’t have ran in the top 10 at Watkins Glen.”

Nine different drivers have won at Sonoma in the last nine races. Given the dominance of Harvick (who won last year) and Kyle Busch (the 2015 winner), many think they are the most likely to end that streak. But Bowyer also has an opportunity to end the streak of unique winners. He won the 2012 edition of this race by holding off Tony Stewart – the driver with the second-most road course wins in NASCAR history.

“You have to be able to have fun on this race track,” Bowyer said. “It is a challenge. Each and every corner is different. There is no perfect setup or perfect line. It is literally one of the only tracks you go to where you are out there racing and have a smile on your face. You might even get a chuckle.”