Another 2018 Gander Outdoors Truck Series Championship Four member is suddenly out of a ride. On Wednesday, GMS Racing announced they and Johnny Sauter have parted ways.
“We cannot thank Johnny enough for his contributions to the growth and success of GMS Racing,” team president Mike Beam stated in a release. “He won the first championship for us and added a lot of trophies to our shop. We wish him all the best for his future endeavors, both in and out of racing.”
The move comes as a surprise for many in the media circle, especially considering the two parties’ success and the lack of reason for the decision. In his first year with GMS in 2016, Sauter scored three wins en route to the Truck championship, followed by a four-win 2017 campaign that saw him finish second in points. In 2018, he upped the win total to six and finished fourth in the standings.
According to reports from those like Jeff Gluck, Sauter had been informed of his release on Wednesday.
With Sauter out of a ride, GMS will field an entirely new fleet of full-time drivers in 2019. Stadium Super Trucks and defending ARCA Racing Series champion Sheldon Creed, who ran a limited schedule for the team in 2018, will pilot the #2 full-time for 2019; Sam Mayer, who will run the full ARCA schedule for GMS, will also enter various Truck races. A replacement in the #21 has not been announced, while the #24 of Justin Haley and multi-driver #25’s futures are uncertain with Haley moving to the Xfinity Series.
The move ultimately means all four Championship drivers in 2018 will be in new rides for 2019: Haley and Noah Gragson, who finished third and second in the standings respectively, have joined Kaulig Racing and JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, while champion Brett Moffitt lost his seat with Hattori Racing Enterprises after the 2018 season due to sponsorship issues and has yet to find a team.