The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has grown a reputation for showcasing spectacular racing events, and that was the case once again in the season finale race on Friday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Four drivers; Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter, Christopher Bell, and Timothy Peters entered the Ford EcoBoost 200 with a shot at the championship, but only one would walk away with the trophy.
The four championship contenders battled hard throughout the 134-lap event. Early on in the race, it appeared as if Crafton had the strongest truck. The No.88 Black Label Bacon/Menards Toyota was the only one of the four contending machines that was able to get out to the race lead at some point during the event. Sauter and Bell were never far behind though, and as the race began to wind down, the battle began to heat up.
Crafton was able to fend off Sauter for a number of laps, but finally with less than 30 laps to go, the No.21 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet was able to break ahead. Once he got a sniff of the championship lead, Sauter never looked back. As the checkered flag waved, Sauter crossed the finish line 3rd, clinching the 2016 championship.
“With about 50-60 to go, I was like okay we got something here, and we were really catching the No.88,” said Sauter after the race on FS1. “Looked like he was pushing really bad. Just so proud of these guys, I can’t thank everybody enough, I mean I’m a small part of this deal. We executed like we needed to tonight.”
It’s the Necedah, WI native’s first-career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship. He may not have been the most dominant truck throughout the 2016 season, but Sauter was no doubt one of the most consistent – finishing the season with three victories, nineteen top-10s, and one pole.
“My family is here, my kids are here, my wife is here,” said Sauter after the race in Victory Lane. “It’s just an awesome night. Proud to be champion, gonna do everything in our power to represent NASCAR and Camping World the best we can.”
William Byron brought home the race victory Friday night, capping off what was an impressive 2016 season. Byron earned seven wins throughout the year, earning him the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award while also bringing home the fifth all-time owner championship for Kyle Busch Motorsports.