Johnny Sauter and the No. 21 ISM Connect team made a statement at Phoenix Raceway, earning their second consecutive win after starting 10th in the Lucas Oil 150. Sauter fought a tight condition throughout the first two stages of the event, but remained a fixture within the top-10.
Starting sixth for the final 70-lap stage, the No. 21 team opted to manage their equipment in preparation for a long run to the finish. Sauter patiently made his way into the top-five on lap 102 but was five seconds behind the leaders. The fifth caution of the night occurred on lap 123, giving Sauter a chance at taking over the lead. As the race returned to green, the field was immediately slowed by a wreck on the restart and placed under red flag conditions. With the same thing occurring on the next two restarts, Sauter found himself in the second position on lap 144. As leader Christopher Bell pitted for damage, Sauter took over the lead for a two-lap shootout to the checkered flag.
The veteran driver held off his fellow playoff contenders for his first win at Phoenix Raceway and fourth win of the 2017 season.
Recapping the night at Phoenix:
“We struggled during qualifying but once they dropped the green flag we had pretty good speed in our ISM Connect Chevy. Track position is so important here and we were just in the right place at the right time at the end of the race. A lot of red flags there at the end but it was good for me to just be able to sit there and gather my thoughts and think through how I wanted to handle those last restarts and those last two were perfect as far as I’m concerned. This is a team effort. We’ve been in position to win at least seven races this year and this is our fourth so we’re getting hot at the right time.”
On what to expect at Homestead-Miami Speedway:
“That track is really tricky. We go down there and we get one set of tires for practice and that place eats tires like a cheese grater. Your first couple of laps you’re going to feel like King Kong and then you’re going to think ‘what is wrong with this truck?’ I suspect you’re going to see everything next week. Unload decent, struggle a little then be good in the race. We’ve just got to be smart and make smart decisions and we’ll be okay.”
- Sauter was the only Championship 4 contender to win in the Round of Six and will head into the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on a two-race winning streak.