Starting from 19th, Friday night’s Ford EcoBoost 200 was test for Johnny Sauter.
Chasing his first championship in the inaugural Camping World Truck Series Chase, Sauter caught and passed Matt Crafton for the top spot in the title fight. Holding that spot for the final quarter of the event, Sauter grabbed his first championship in his eighth season.
“What a remarkable year to start off with a win at Daytona,” Sauter said. “Had decent speed all year, and we really hit our stride here at the end of the year when it really counted.
Winning the championship in his first year with GMS Racing, Sauter says there weren’t many surprises along the way.
“I had a great time at ThorSport,” he said regarding his past team. Duke and Rhonda Thorson are great people, and they’ve been in the sport for a long time. I’m glad that we’re sitting here celebrating a championship, but next year the goal is to win 10 races and ultimately get Maury [Gallagher, owner] an owner’s championship.”
Finishing second in the championship, Crafton could only manage a seventh-place finish after struggling in the race’s final 20-lap run.
“I kind of figured it was a matter of time,” Crafton said regarding Sauter’s pass for the championship. “We were just really bad on that last run for whatever reason. We just went the wrong way for whatever reason. It just got really tight on that last run. The run before that was just a little bit free, and on that last run it just got really tight on entry.”
Unlike Crafton, there was no disappointment in store for William Byron, who grabbed his seventh win of 2016 after leading the final 10 laps en route to victory.
“It was just amazing,” Byron said. “We had a great truck coming here. Obviously expecting to be still in the drivers’ championship, but when we came here we had a fast truck.”
Completing the top 5 was Tyler Reddick in second and Kyle Larson, who led a race-high 71 laps, in fourth followed by Daniel Hemric in fifth.