Johnny Sauter made his competitive debut with GMS Racing on Saturday night in the NextEra Energy Resources 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season-opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. That debut resulted in a win after a total of 12 laps led in the 100-lap race. It was Sauter’s 11th-career win and his second Truck Series win at Daytona, making him only the second driver to earn a repeat win in Camping World Truck Series competition at Daytona. Todd Bodine is the other.
“I just couldn’t be more proud of this effort,” Sauter said. “I’m just a small part of what happened tonight, but this is unbelievable. I don’t think I could put into words what this opportunity really means for me — to get Smokey Mountain (Herbal Snuff) their first win and also get Chevrolet their first win in the Truck Series in 17 tries down here. That’s extra special for me, growing up in a GM family.”
Ryan Truex was second, Parker Kligerman third and Brandon Brown and Travis Kvapil rounded out the top-five.
The race ended under yellow, as the caution came out on the final lap for a multi-truck incident that included the truck of Christopher Bell barrel rolling several times and going end-over-end before winding up back on its four wheels. Bell climbed out of the truck under his own power. He was transported to a local hospital for precautionary observation and released.
“The 4 (Bell), he was really loose even 20 laps before that,” Kligerman said. “The 4 was just constantly sideways. Kudos for Chris for holding onto it for as long as he did, but then eventually, he just lost it.”
The yellow flag that ended the event was the seventh of the race. While none of the previous six cautions were officially attributed to the new 20-minute caution clock, the third caution of the race on lap 41 was indirectly because of it. Several teams’ strategy included pitting under green before the clock ran out, and as the clock ran down to nearly zero, teams hit pit road, causing a traffic jam at pit entrance that resulted in a wreck involving Cody Coughlin, Bell, Spencer Gallagher and William Byron.
Another multi-truck wreck came on lap 92, bringing out the six caution of the race and resulting in a red flag period of nearly 38 minutes. The wreck began near the front of the field and included previous front runners like pole sitter Grant Enfinger, Cameron Hayley, Tyler Reddick, Ben Kennedy and Austin Theriault. Also included among the carnage were Daniel Suarez, Daniel Hemric, John Wes Townley, Rico Abreu, Chris Fontaine, Cole Custer, Austin Wayne Self, John Hunter Nemechek, Ben Rhodes and Matt Crafton. The wreck looked to start with Hayley getting turned in the draft.
“I’m not quite sure what happened,” Hayley said. “It’s hard racing there. I guess we just caught bumpers the wrong way. Peters got in the back of me.” Prior to the wreck, Theriault was up front more than any other driver, credited with a race-high 31 laps led. He was the only driver who led more than 15 laps.
After the red flag was lifted, Truex restarted with the lead and Sauter alongside on the front row. Timothy Peters and Bell restarted in the second row. Peters, along with Nemechek, were also caught up in the last-lap wreck.
Tyler Young finished sixth, Rhodes was seventh, Hemric eighth, Scott Lagasse Jr. was ninth and Matt Crafton rounded out the top-10.