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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

Denny Hamlin offers advice on how to deal with critics on social media

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Denny Hamlin, who has been fined by NASCAR for comments on Twitter, and was vocal toward critics after this year’s Daytona 500, says he’s found peace on how to deal with those on social media who don’t agree with him.

“I’ve been very good this year about not replying to mean people, and you all should do the same,’’ Hamlin said Friday at Sonoma Raceway.

“I’m making a (request) right now to every driver, every team owner, every NASCAR executive and every media member, stop replying to people who make nonsense comments. They have 16 followers. Don’t give them your 100,000. Do not give them your 100,000 as their stage. No one will ever see their comment, just brush it by, talk about the positives and I’m not a positive person.”

Asked how does one ignore such divisive comments, Hamlin said: “You just scroll by it. Forget it. That person doesn’t exit. They’re an admirer that has lost their way.’’

Hamlin has been better at doing so since the Daytona 500. He faced negative reaction on social media to the contact he and Bubba Wallace had at the end of the Daytona 500.

They engaged in a brief shouting match in the garage area after Hamlin learned that Wallace had taken a dig at him on national TV about a recent comment about drivers using Adderall.

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Clint Bowyer leads opening Cup practice at Sonoma

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Clint Bowyer was the fastest in the first of two Cup practices Friday at Sonoma Raceway.

Bowyer, the winner of the most recent Cup race two weeks ago at Michigan, posted a lap of 93.590 mph. He was followed by Ryan Blaney (93.546 mph), Joey Logano (93.172), Jamie McMurray (93.049) and Daniel Suarez (92.746).

Sixth was Jimmie Johnson (92.661). He was followed by Michael McDowell (92.650), Martin Truex Jr. (92.614), AJ Allmendinger (92.596) and Ryan Newman (92.595).

Click here for full practice report

Final Cup practice will be from 5:40 – 6:55 p.m. ET. Qualifying will take place Saturday.

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Kyle Larson: ‘I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love NASCAR racing’

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Kyle Larson‘s comment on Twitter earlier this week that he would like to run full-time in the World of Outlaws sprint car series “before I’m 40” might have riled some fans, but Larson says it was not meant as anything bad toward NASCAR.

“I don’t know, I think maybe some people aren’t quite as open-minded, maybe,” the 26-year-old Larson said Friday at Sonoma Raceway. “It’s like they read it as if I said in two years from now I wanted to do it. I mean 15 years from now that would put me 20 years in Cup. So, that is a long time. 

“I think Jeff Gordon spent about that much time in the sport (Gordon raced in Cup 23 full-time seasons), but I don’t know, maybe I don’t do the best job in the world of talking about how much I love NASCAR as much as I do sprint cars, but I do. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love NASCAR racing.

“I enjoy sprint cars, and I feel like I talk about sprint cars a lot just to open people’s eyes to that style of racing because it’s a great form or racing and so is NASCAR. So, I don’t know, I just want fans to be fans of motorsports not just NASCAR and not just sprint cars. I would like to see everybody just enjoy all of racing and I think that is what I do. Maybe I don’t do a good job at it sometimes, but you know, I enjoy racing all types of vehicles. Most fans get it, but some fans aren’t quite open-minded enough.”

It was on the official World of Outlaws podcast in December where Larson expressed his desire to eventually transition to the World of Outlaws.

“NASCAR is where I wanted to make it, but I would have been perfectly fine if I didn’t make it either,” Larson said on that podcast in the offseason. “I’d probably be on the Outlaw (sprint car) tour probably right now, racing and loving life … I would say racing on the World of Outlaws tour full-time is my main goal.”

Larson just finished running five nights of Ohio Sprint Speedweek. He won two of those nights. Rain postponed a sixth event before the feature that Larson was to have run. Larson said he has the dirt track race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on his schedule. Indianapolis is building a quarter-mile dirt track inside Turn 3 to run during the NASCAR weekend there in September.

Larson is in his fifth full Cup season. He has five career series wins. Although winless this season, Larson has finished runner-up three times (Auto Club Speedway, Bristol and Pocono).

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Four Cup cars to be docked practice time at Sonoma

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Four cars will miss time in today’s opening practice at Sonoma Raceway for violations, NASCAR announced Friday.

David Ragan will miss 30 minutes for failing inspection before the race at Michigan three times.

Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson and Kasey Kahne each will be docked 15 minutes for failing inspection twice before the Michigan race.

Today’s opening Cup practice goes from 2:40 – 3:55 p.m. ET.

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