Back to Back Wins As Sauter Wins Phoenix 11.10.17

Friday night at Phoenix International Raceway was big. Really big.

While Johnny Sauter earned his second victory of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Round of 6 with a win in the Lucas Oil 150, the Championship 4 is now officially set for the four-driver faceoff in Miami.

Johnny Sauter, Christopher Bell, Matt Crafton and Austin Cindric will duel for the title next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as Ben Rhodes and John Hunter Nemechek find themselves eliminated from championship contention following the battle in the desert.

Kyle Busch Motorsports drivers Bell and Gragson dominated most of the 150-lap event — with Bell leading a race-high 91 laps — but neither was up front at the end after Gragson lost control of his No. 18 Toyota at the exit of Turn 4 and slammed the inside wall with six laps remaining, taking himself out of the race and sending Bell into the outside wall, as well.

Faced with a must-win situation to advance to the Championship 4, John Hunter Nemechek restarted the race second alongside Sauter with two laps to go, but Nemechek was no match for Sauter as he sent sail for the checkered flag in his No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet.

The win was Sauter’s second consecutive after his victory last week at Texas that punched his ticket into the Championship 4, and it was his first career triumph at the 1-mile oval.

The fight for the fourth and final spot came down to Rhodes and Cindric in the final stage. Rhodes entered the race just one point behind Cindric in the playoff standings and looked poised to race his way into the Championship 4. Following a caution with 28 laps remaining, both Rhodes and Cindric opted to pit for fresh tires.

And that’s where the battle took a major turn.

Following a restart with 21 laps to go, the two drivers made contact as Cindric dipped low to make a pass on Rhodes heading into Turn 1. But Rhodes threw the block on him, sending his No. 27 truck nose-first into the inside wall. The crash brought out a 17 minute, seven second red-flag period.