Johnny Sauter did a celebratory burnout. He collected the checkered flag from the flag stand at Talladega Superspeedway.
But Sauter didn’t win Saturday’s Sugarland Shine 250 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoff race at the 2.66-mile track. A penalty for blocking Riley Herbst below the yellow line in the final 200 yards of the event cost Sauter the victory and made an unlikely winner of Spencer Boyd.
“It’s Talladega,” the driver of the No. 20 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet exulted in Victory Lane. “Man, I don’t drink beer, but it may happen tonight.”
Boyd, whose previous best finish in the series was a fourth in the 2019 season opener at Daytona, crossed the finish line .132 seconds behind Sauter, who started his celebration. But NASCAR informed the teams that the finish was under review and subsequently awarded the victory to Boyd.
“I was sitting there, and I’m like, man, second is amazing for us,” Boyd said. “We’re happy. We finished fourth at Daytona in this truck, and then one of my crew guys was like, ‘You just won!’ I can’t believe this. Two weeks ago I wasn’t running this race.
“We put this together late with Alabama Roofing Professionals… You dream of winning a NASCAR race. Four years ago, I was selling cars with my dad at Hendrick Automotive Group. A lot of people believed in me to get me to this point.”
Gus Dean’s hard crash into the inside wall off Turn 2 sent the race to overtime, and Sauter led the field to green on Lap 97. Sauter lost and regained the top spot in traffic and moved below the yellow line approaching the checkered flag as Herbst made a move to the inside.
After the review, NASCAR placed Sauter 14th at the finish as the last driver on the lead lap.
“I went down to put a little block on him,” Sauter said, “but then when I did, I got hooked sideways, but that’s just plate racing. You know, I didn’t block his advance or anything like that… I just hate it for my guys. They deserve better than that.”
Todd Gilliland finished second, with Herbst coming home third. Brett Moffitt in fourth and Stewart Friesen in fifth were the highest finishing Playoff drivers in the first race of the Round of 6. Fellow Playoff drivers Austin Hill, Tyler Ankrum and Matt Crafton (the pole winner) followed in sixth, seventh, and eighth, respectively.
Playoff driver Ross Chastain was leading with six laps left, but a late attempt to block Sheldon Creed ignited a 10-car crash that ended with Chastain out of the race and in the infield care center. Chastain dropped to sixth in the Playoff standings, 46 points behind Moffitt, the series leader, but only two behind Crafton in fourth place.
The Playoff field will be cut from six drivers to four after the Nov. 8 event at ISM Raceway at Phoenix.