Johnny Sauter and the No. 21 Allegiant team rallied from an eventful final practice to claim their sixth top-three finish of the season at Gateway Motorsports Park on Saturday night. In the opening minutes of final practice, Sauter made contact with the No. 98 and got into the wall. Though the Allegiant Chevrolet suffered heavy damage, the team and driver decided to repair the truck before the afternoon’s qualifying session, in which they advanced to the final round to earn a ninth-place starting spot.
Sauter reported early on in the event that he had no grip and maintained his position within the top-10 until the end of the first stage when he visited pit road for right-side tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. The No. 21 restarted from the fourth position but once again, the Necedah, Wis., native relayed to crew chief Joe Shear, Jr., that he was still battling no grip as the second stage came to an end. A slow four-tire pit stop led to Sauter restarting outside of the top-10 for the final 90-lap stage.
Just past the halfway mark, Sauter reentered the top-10 but continued to struggle with handling. The race stayed green forcing Shear, Jr., to use pit strategy to maintain track position. When the No. 21 came to pit road on lap 133, the team provided their driver with right-side tires and fuel, opting for no adjustments as the handling of the Allegiant Chevrolet had greatly improved over the long green-flag run.
The final caution of the night occurred with just 11 laps remaining. Sauter took the green from the sixth position and drove to third in the final two laps to earn his sixth top-five finish of the year.
“Overall this was a tough day for our Allegiant team, but the guys stuck with me and we were able to get a decent finish out of it. I’d like to think that if we had been able to practice during the final session things would have been a little different, maybe we would have been going for another win here at the end, but I’m proud of the work Joe (Shear, Jr., crew chief) and the team did to repair the truck and have something that could run in the top-five when it was all said and done.”
GMS Racing PR