Johnny Sauter and the No. 21 Allegiant Chevrolet team qualified in the second position for Saturday’s Fred’s 250 at Talladega Superspeedway, his ninth start at the 2.666-mile track. As the green flag waved, Sauter took the lead on the first lap and held on to the top position until the first caution of the day on lap 20. The first stage ended under yellow with Sauter being declared the stage winner before pitting for fuel only on lap 23.
Restarting in the second position, Sauter once again took the lead with help from teammate Justin Haley. An uneventful second stage saw no cautions as the Necedah, Wis., native claimed his second stage win of the day on lap 42.
At the break, Sauter came to pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment, rejoining the field in the fourth position. Taking the green for the final 48 laps, Sauter and Haley once again worked together to move towards the front but a caution on lap 55 slowed their progress. Using pit strategy to ensure the No. 21 had enough fuel to finish the race, Sauter pitted for the final time under green on lap 61 for fuel only.
Riding in a smaller pack separate from the leaders, Sauter was able to stay on the lead lap as the yellow flag was shown for the fourth time. With the lead pack pitting under caution, Sauter lined up to restart in the fifth position, moving into the lead on lap 87 before dropping back to sixth.
Knowing a bold move would be needed to win, Sauter attempted to pass the leaders with two laps to go before being collected in an incident on the final lap. He was able to cross the line in the 12th position securing his spot in the NASCAR Playoffs Round of Six.
“We knew coming into this race that all of the GMS trucks would be fast and we’d have a good chance to make it to Victory Lane. Winning stages is great and certainly helps in The Playoffs, but it’s the race win that really matters. I knew I had to make a move at the end if I wanted a shot at the win but I guess I just went too early. All around it was a great GMS effort. (Justin) Haley did a great job in the 24 today, we wouldn’t have had the position to try anything at the end if we hadn’t worked together all day, and the effort everyone is putting in on these trucks at GMS and GMS Fabrication is what is going to keep us in this until Miami.”
- With points being reset following Talladega, Sauter is seeded second in the NCWTS Playoff standings, 20 points behind leader Christopher Bell.
GMS Racing PR