By Brian Eberly, Contributing Writer
OREGON, Wisc. — Johnny Sauter hopped on a plane to Madison International Speedway looking for one thing and one thing one only – a second career victory in the Joe Shear Classic.
Rolling out a brand new race car for the event, Sauter would struggle in practice. Clocking in 26th of 30 cars in qualifying, the Necedah, Wisconsin native was relegated to the last chance qualifier, barely making the field and starting near the back of the pack in the 27th position.
Sauter had worked his way up inside the top-10 by the halfway point of the 200 lap event and cracked the top-three with 33 laps to go.
Sauter was battling hard with the No. 77 of Jonathan Eilen in the closing laps before contact between the two brought out the sixth yellow flag of the event with 16 laps remaining. Since both drivers were involved in the caution, both Eilen and Sauter were sent to the rear of the field by Midwest Tour officials.
Satuer queued up the radio with a series of four-letter words before parking his No. 5 machine in the pits. The final result was an 18th-place finish.
“We changed a lot of stuff all day and it never really made it any better,” Sauter told Motorsports Tribune. “We just had a better car than everybody else on long runs. That’s it, you know what I mean.”
As for his perspective on the penalty?
“Well I don’t know. When men used to race, and you spun somebody or had contact, not everybody went to the back. We live in a pretty watered down society so it is what it is. That’s just life.
“It’s all good. We had a fast car. We just have some work to do on making it better.”
The frustrating result for the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion capped a busy week. Sauter joined the 40-year-old club on Tuesday before heading to Dover International Raceway.
Sauter led 137 laps in his No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet on Friday night to win the Truck Series race in a thrilling finish. It was the second win of the season for Sauter, who is locked in to the playoffs and leads the championship standings by 51 points over Ben Rhodes.
“It’s good. We’ve just got a long way to go,” he said of winning two of the first five Truck races in 2018. “You’ve got to get hot at the right time and that’s the end of the year. The way that it’s set up now, none of that stuff (early season success) really matters.”
On Saturday, he climbed into the No. 23 GMS Racing machine, filling in for the suspended Spencer Gallagher in the NASCAR XFINTY Series race at The Monster Mile. Sauter started 11th and finished sixth.
Will Sauter return to XFINITY Series action in the near future?
“I don’t think so. I’m not sure what’s going on. We’ll just stick with the truck for now.”