Johnny Sauter wins at Texas, locked into Truck championship race in Miami

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Defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champ Johnny Sauter took a big step towards repeating, winning Friday night’s JAG Metals 350 at Texas Motor Speedway.

It is the Wisconsin native’s third win of the season, which equals the number of wins he earned en route to last year’s championship.

It also marks the second consecutive year that Sauter has won the fall playoff race at Texas, assuring himself a spot in the championship race in Miami in two weeks.

“I haven’t been pumped up this much in a long, long time,” Sauter said.

Sauter held off a late-race challenge by runner-up Austin Cindric to earn his fourth career triumph at TMS. In addition, it was the Hendrick Motorsports Engine Department’s 400th overall win.

Christopher Bell finished third, followed by Chase Briscoe and Justin Haley, who spun on Lap 58 after making contact with Sauter, his teammate at GMS Racing.

Haley kept his truck off the wall and sustained only minor damage to the left rear and was able to continue on.

Sixth through 10th were Kaz Grala, Grant Enfinger, Ryan Truex, Matt Crafton and Noah Gragson.

Crafton suffered a costly pit road penalty just past halfway when NASCAR ruled a crew member came over the wall too soon, and was never able to recover.

Justin Haley’s truck was found to be too low in inspection after the race. Christopher Bell’s truck was found to have an unsecured lug nut.

MORE: Results from JAG Metals 350 Truck race at Texas Motor Speedway

MORE: Johnny Sauter clinches spot in championship race, Christopher Bell close on points

STAGE WINNERS: Christopher Bell (Stage 1), Noah Gragson (Stage 2).

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Austin Cindric gave Sauter a stiff challenge in the closing laps, but couldn’t get past. … Chase Briscoe bounced back from tough races at Talladega and Martinsville to finish fourth.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Tommy Joe Martins completed three laps before suffering a hard wreck in his Chevrolet Silverado. … John Hunter Nemechek pitted late in the race, had struggles restarting and then was penalized for speeding while exiting pit road. He finished 19th.

NOTABLE: John Hunter Nemechek, who is 39 points out of the final transfer spot, must win next weekend at Phoenix to advance to the championship round in Miami.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It was a nice points day, but we already have really good points, so we really wanted to win.” — Third-place finisher Christopher Bell.

WHAT’S NEXT: Lucas Oil 150; 8:30 p.m. ET Nov. 10 at Phoenix Raceway