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Johnny Sauter sits backstage at driver introductions at Texas.
Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images

Johnny Sauter, GMS Racing part ways

GMS Racing announced Wednesday that veteran Johnny Sauter will not return to the team for the 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. The organization indicated that the separation was effective immediately.

Sauter, 40, spent the last three seasons with the GMS No. 21 Chevrolet operation. In the first year of his partnership with the Maury Gallagher-owned team, Sauter marched to the 2016 series championship.

GMS indicated that plans for a new driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet would come at a future date. But Sauter, in a timely appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Wednesday, indicated that 2018 series champion Brett Moffitt was in line to replace him with GMS.

MORE: Moffitt joins GMS Racing for 2019

“I’m a big boy, 40 years old, and have been racing a long time,” Sauter told SiriusXM. “That’s the way it goes sometimes. That’s all I know about it. That’s all I can tell you.”

Sauter has competed full-time in the Truck Series since 2009, finishing among the top five in the standings in eight of those 10 seasons. Of his 23 career wins on the circuit, 13 have come in the last three years with GMS.

RELATED: Sauter’s career stats | On the Move: 2019 changes 

“We cannot thank Johnny enough for his contributions to the growth and success of GMS Racing,” GMS president Mike Beam said in a statement released by the team. “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.”

Sauter scored six victories last year, matching Moffitt’s series lead, but wound up fourth in the standings after a 12th-place finish in the season finale behind race winner Moffitt.

Sauter said he heard rumblings about his ouster last month at the season-ending awards banquet. He also said his plans for competing in 2019 remain uncertain.

“It’s kind of late in the game, obviously,” Sauter told SiriusXM. “Daytona’s only a month away, so you don’t want it to go down like that but there ain’t a whole hell of a lot I can do about it. It’s just life. What’s next for me? Don’t have a clue. You see a lot of drivers get sidelined — good drivers — and that’s the nature of the beast.”

RELATED: 2019 Truck Series schedule