You can call him the Dover Dominator.
With a No. 13 ThorSport Racing Ford that was strongest at the end of Saturday’s Jegs 200 at Dover International Speedway, Johnny Sauter beat pole winner Brett Moffitt to the finish line after a late restart to win his first NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race of the season and his third straight on the Monster Mile.
The former series champion, who returned to ThorSport this season after a less-than-amicable split with GMS Racing, could hardly contain himself after taking the checkered flag 0.603s ahead of Moffitt, the reigning series champion, who signed with GMS during the offseason.
“When you get kicked to the curb, you feel like you have a lot to prove,” Sauter said in Victory Lane. “I have to thank [owners] Duke and Rhonda Thorson most importantly — a couple of months ago, I didn’t know if I’d be racing.
“To get three in a row here is extra special. I have to thank these guys. I was highly motivated. I shut the motor off earlier today in the race and it wouldn’t re-fire, and I was like, ‘Oh well.’ Track position was so important, but experience paid off.
“It’s so special. This ranks up there as one of the biggest wins of my career. We’ve got to keep it going — that’s the main goal here, not to get complacent. I knew after Atlanta (where Sauter finished second on Feb. 23) we’d have a shot to win races. I felt like we gave one away at Martinsville, but we got it today.”
Moffitt won the first 45-lap stage wire-to-wire and held the lead with nine laps left in Stage 2. But Sauter charged from third to first in two laps, passing Moffitt for the lead — and ultimately the stage win on Lap 82.
Saving fuel during the final run, however, Sauter was turning his ignition off and on under caution, but the engine wouldn’t re-fire. Eventually he popped the clutch and the truck started, but Sauter fell to eighth for a restart on Lap 160.
Systematically, he worked his way back through the field, aided by a subsequent caution. He restarted sixth on Lap 166 after an accident that KO’d the No. 2 truck of Sheldon Creed. On Lap 170, Sauter navigated around both Moffitt and third-place finisher Harrison Burton to take the lead.
From that point on, it was Moffitt pursuing Sauter, all the way to the finish line.
“It’s all about track position, really,” Moffitt said. “When we were out front, we could lead and we won the first stage. But there was a lot of traffic [and it] cost us track position that we never got back.”
Sauter’s ThorSport teammates Grant Enfinger, Matt Crafton and Ben Rhodes finished fourth, fifth and sixth, followed by Austin Hill, Derek Kraus, Tyler Ankrum and Ross Chastain, who recorded his sixth top 10 in six races this season.