News & Media

Sauter ready to race, at Kentucky and beyond

July 06, 2011, Dave Rodman,

Johnny Sauter doesn't even hesitate when the Camping World Truck Series' latest dreadful delay in the schedule, a month's worth, is brought up -- and his recent performance is the key.

"Obviously I'm not a big fan of having that much time off," Sauter said. "It's hard to get into a rhythm because we did Dover, Charlotte, Kansas and Texas -- you started to get into a flow, finished second at Kansas, you win Texas and you're like, 'let's keep doing this.'

Johnny Sauter

Season results

"You started to get into a flow ... And then, 'boom!' You got a month off. So that hurts as far as getting in a rhythm."


"And then, 'boom!' You got a month off. So that hurts as far as getting in a rhythm."

Sauter's become as good as a professional surfer when it comes to weathering peaks, valleys and interruptions.

So it's no question to him, the potential interruption that occurred in the series' last race, four weeks ago at Texas, is irrelevant. As far as Sauter's concerned -- and his remarks prove it -- he won that race.

But the "win" column doesn't reflect it because, on a late restart, Sauter switched lanes before the start/finish line.

It's something that's happened this season to David Ragan in the Daytona 500, Juan Montoya at Martinsville and in the Nationwide Series, to Brad Keselowski at Road America and to Kenny Wallace at Daytona.

In every case, NASCAR made the right call. And even though the outcome still galls Sauter, it doesn't take away what he and his ThorSport Racing team's accomplished this season. Kansas and Texas were the most recent examples, and Kentucky on Thursday night could be more of the same.

"As far as setups go, we feel like Kentucky's going to be like Kansas, in terms of lateral loads and the things we pay attention to with setups," Sauter said. "And we ran good here last year -- we finished second -- so we've got a got a good starting point."

Sauter did cite the fact that having different tire combinations at virtually every event makes previous notebooks somewhat moot.

"You can only look at your notes from before so much before you have to rely on [current] tire data to give this tire what it wants," Sauter said. "If we're too far off, there's nobody better in the Truck garage than [crew chief] Joe Shear at being able to get me wrangled back in and going in the right direction.

"There's been a couple times this year we've been 20th in the first practice and by the time the second practice is over, we're the fastest truck, so I never have to worry about that. All I have to worry about is driving and giving feedback and letting those guys do what they do."

It's resulted in a win, a pole and six top-10 finishes in nine starts. But no lost sleep or changes in strategy for Sauter, given he's been leading the points for a while.

"At this point in the season it doesn't matter a bit to me," Sauter said, laughing. "I know we still have [16] races to go and that's an eternity -- and a lot can happen. Don't get me wrong, it's cool to be leading and sitting on top of the points, but just as fast as things have been going good for you, they can go bad, so we just focus on going to the race track each week to win.

"I'm not a big points racer. I feel like you should go to the race track to win, and the points will take care of themselves. Whatever happens, happens."

The bottom line is, Sauter's a racer, through and through -- and his activity during the last month proves it.

"I spent all my time just working on my short-track stuff," Sauter said. "I'm getting ready to run some late-model races later this summer, so I basically spent all my time working on that and I spent a week up in [Sandusky] Ohio at the shop, with the guys. It goes by pretty fast, but I'd just as soon be racing."

So far this season that's placed Sauter 20 points ahead of the Truck Series' field -- though a 25-point penalty to former four-time series champion Ron Hornaday, who inherited the win in Texas -- enables that. Hornaday's currently third, 33 points behind Sauter and trailing second-place rookie Cole Whitt.

"I think my guys are pretty fire -up after the Texas debacle," Sauter said. "They're jonesing to get back to the race track -- they feel like they have something to prove and I think as far as our team is concerned, we're going to hit the ground running."