Michel Disdier

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Johnny Sauter starts new chapter with Daytona win for new Truck team

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Veteran driver Johnny Sauter kicked off the new chapter of his racing career with his new team, GMS Racing, by capturing Friday’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

Sauter, who joined GMS during the offseason, won his 11th career Truck Series race and second at Daytona, albeit under caution after a multi-truck wreck on the last lap.

“Man, I’m so pumped up,” Sauter told Fox Sports 1 in victory lane. “It all worked out. It’s unbelievable. I just had this feeling that our truck was so good yesterday that if we didn’t make any mistakes, we would have a shot at this.”

With the Truck series adopting a Chase format this season, Sauter’s win all but puts him in the championship race later this year.

Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Christopher Bell, who helped push Sauter to the win, was involved in the last-lap wreck and flipped 8.5 times according to NASCAR. He climbed out of his truck under his own power. Bell was taken to the infield care center and then transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.

Ryan Truex, who hadn’t been in a Truck since 2014, finished second, followed by NBC NASCAR analyst Parker Kligerman, Brandon Brown and Tyler Young.

“It feels good to be back,” Truex told Fox Sports 1. “Second sucks, but I’ll take it.”

Sixth through 10th were Travis Kvapil, Daniel Hemric, Ben Rhodes, Scott Lagasse Jr. and Matt Crafton.

The last-lap crash was preceded eight laps earlier by a wreck that involved 18 trucks, more than half of the 32-truck starting field.

HOW SAUTER WON: Sauter led just 12 laps, but none more important than the final one. When the race had previously been stopped eight laps from the finish due to an 18-truck wreck, Sauter said he plotted his strategy and it played out almost exactly how he anticipated. He got a big push near the end of the race from Christopher Bell, who then was involved in the last-lap wreck, turning a likely second- or third-place finish into a 16th-place finish.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Ryan Truex, who was hired less than two weeks ago by Hattori Racing, had an outstanding run in his first Truck race in nearly two years. Truex deftly worked the draft through the latter part of the race, led 14 laps and wound up with a career-best finish in a Truck. … Austin Theriault led a race-high 31 laps, until he was involved in the big wreck with eight laps left. … French driver Michel Disdier avoided the two big wrecks in the closing laps and came away with an 11th-place finish, his best effort in two career Truck races at Daytona.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Tommy Joe Martins barely got started before suffering a setback. Martins appeared to lose a tire just five laps into the race, smacked the wall hard with the right side of his truck, sustaining significant damage. His team repaired the damage and got him back on-track, only to wreck again on Lap 11, ending his day. Martins finished last in the 32-truck field. … Rico Abreu, making his first start for ThorSport Racing and only his third in the series was involved in the big wreck and finished 29th.

NOTABLE: After nearly 10 laps of tight racing without incident, the biggest wreck of the night occurred in Turn 3 on Lap 92 (of the scheduled 100 laps) involving 18 trucks and bringing out a red flag. Drivers involved: Rico Abreu, John Wes Townley, polesitter Grant Enfinger, Cameron Hayley, Daniel Suarez, John Hunter Nemechek, Scott Lagasse Jr., Matt Crafton, Tyler Reddick, Ben Kennedy, Austin Theriault, Timothy Peters, Chris Fontaine, Brandon Brown, Austin Wayne Self, Daniel Hemric, Ben Rhodes and Cole Custer. … The red flag lasted 27 minutes and 54 seconds.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “It was hard racing. I guess we just caught bumpers the wrong way. Peters got into the back of me. It’s just tight racing. It’s so hard there at the end, everyone’s bumping into each other and trying to hold a pretty wheel. I guess that’s Daytona, but it sucks for my guys because they worked so hard.” – Cameron Hayley, one of the 17 drivers involved in the late-race wreck.

WHAT’S NEXT: The series races Feb. 27, at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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Real-life Jean Girard is coming for Ricky Bobby at Daytona

(Photo courtesy Michel Disdier)
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You can’t help but like Michel Disdier‘s spirit and confidence.

Disdier is a French race car driver who will be in Daytona for the next two weeks, preparing to race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season opener on Feb. 19.

Disdier, who turns 42 on Wednesday, is promoting his upcoming quest in numerous ways to gain exposure for his team, sponsors – and of course, himself.

Sunday, the self-titled “A Frenchman In NASCAR” sent out his latest promotion via email, borrowing from the playbook of the fictional Jean Girard of Talladega Nights fame.

“Be careful #RickyBobby, I’m coming!!” Disdier said in a flyer that features him in a bathtub, shaving his legs, much like Girard did in the movie.

This will mark Disdier’s second shot at Daytona. He finished 24th in the Truck Series season opener in 2014, driving for team owner Bobby Dotter, who Disdier will also race for again in two weeks.

Who knows, if Disdier does well in the race, might we be witnessing a storyline for a real-life sequel to Talladega Nights?

Now all we need is someone to play Ricky Bobby.

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Parlez vous, NASCAR: French drivers to race in Trucks, K&N openers

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The 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and K&N Pro Series East season-opening races will have a decidedly French flavor.

Michel Disdier, a 41-year-old racer from Nice, France, will make his second career Truck Series start in the Feb. 19 season-opening NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

Disdier competed in the 2014 Truck Series season opener at Daytona, as well, starting 33rd and finishing 24th, completing 83 of the event’s 100 laps.

As he did in that race, Disdier again will compete for owner Bobby Dotter’s SS-Green Light Racing team, driving the No. 07 Chevrolet Silverado in the Feb. 19 event.

“I am more than ever enthusiastic with the idea to again drive and control the car on (the) Daytona circuit,” Disdier said in a media release. “Taking part in such an event represented already a big step in my career.

“Returning to Florida for the third time announces being the perfect symbol of the passion which exists around our participation. A Frenchman in America, it is not banal in such closed and competitive discipline such as NASCAR.”

Disdier also raced at Daytona in 2013, finishing 11th in his best finish in 11 career starts in the ARCA Series. He also has one career start in the NASCAR Pinty Series (formerly NASCAR Canadian Tire Series), finishing 29th at Montreal in 2007.

Disdier will drive for Racing 2 Cure, which helps families who have a member fighting cancer.

The other French driver is Ulysse Delsaux, who will make his K&N Pro Series East debut at New Smyrna (Florida) Raceway on Feb. 14.

Ulysse Delsaux
Ulysse Delsaux

Driving the No. 46 Nexteer Chevrolet SS in the K&N series opener, the 18-year-old native of Troyes, France, is part of the Nexteer Road to Daytona program, which sends promising drivers from the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series to the U.S. to race.

“It is such an honor for me to enter this race, because it means that all the work we have done since the beginning of my career is paying off and the NASCAR family recognizes me as a good NASCAR driver,” Delsaux said in a media release. “This is just the beginning, and I hope to demonstrate I deserve more opportunities like this.

“I will enjoy every lap and give everything I have to show that I am a good NASCAR driver.”

After Daytona, Delsaux will compete again in the 2016 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, moving from the Elite 2 division last year to the premier Elite 1 division this year.

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