Johnny Sauter defends title in Truck Series race at Dover
DOVER, Del. (AP) — Johnny Sauter led for 137 laps, battled a teenager down the stretch and held off a fellow 40-something in a two-lap overtime restart for his second straight victory in the Truck Series race at Dover International Speedway.
Sauter narrowly split two spinning trucks with 20 laps to go and briefly lost the lead on the final regulation restart to 19-year-old Noah Gragson. But the two collided while battling for the lead with two laps remaining and Gragson backed hard into the wall.
Matt Crafton and Sauter, the last two Truck Series winners at Dover, were on the front row in overtime, and Sauter quickly pulled out to a lengthy lead for the victory on Friday.
“Johnny turned 40 this week, so he’s part of the old man crew and we’ve caught a lot of flak this week,” Crafton said. “But these two 40-year-olds showed the kids how to do it, I guess.”
Gragson, the pole-setter, led throughout the first stage and finished 20th. Justin Haley, David Gilliland and Harrison Burton completed the top five.
“We had to work for this one today,” Sauter said. “I had a good run on him (Gragson) there and he squeezed me off and I was like, ‘Well, OK, you just gave me the green light to be aggressive.’”
Following a caution with 12 laps to go, Gragson grabbed the lead after side-by-side racing. Sauter retook it six laps later on a strong run to the outside.
“So close to winning and all I could think about was just the mistake I made and I really want to get that monster,” Gragson said.
Sauter’s second victory of the season — and 19th of his career —extended his series lead to 51 points over Ben Rhodes, who took eighth. Gragson sits in third at 58.
Jesse Little, son of Chad Little, briefly took the first lead of his NASCAR career by overtaking Sauter with 79 laps left, but was penalized for pitting outside the box and finished ninth.
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