DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The last couple of weeks have been busy for Johnny Sauter.
The Wisconsin native won his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race of the year and 48 hours later, his wife Cortney gave birth to their second child, a baby girl.
Still, what started all for Sauter was winning the ASA championship in 2001.
“I think that is the year that pretty much put me on the map,” Sauter said. “Man, I cannot believe it was 10 years ago. That was a big year, and everything seemed to go right. Hopefully, we can duplicate the same success this year.”
During the 2001 season, Sauter set some records. He had 10 wins, 13 podium finishes in which he had 10 in a row, four poles, 15 top-five finishes, 16 top-10 finishes, 2,039 laps led and only one DNF.
Like many race fans, Sauter misses the old ASA National Tour.
“Yeah I do. I miss it as a competitor, but I miss watching those races as a fan as well,” Sauter said. “It was good entertainment obviously, but I am still a big fan of short-track racing. It is a bummer that it is no longer here, but there have been plenty of people who have come along to try to fill a void and they are doing a good job at that.”
Even with the ASA transitioning from a single racing series to a sanctioning body, Sauter still is able to compete at ASA sanctioned events when his time allows. Last year, he held off two-time series champion Steve Carlson to win the Dixieland 150 at Wisconsin Int’l Raceway.
“I have been able to sneak back to the Midwest and run some short-track races. It was fun to get back into it after taking 6-7 years off,” Sauter said. “I decided, since I am a competitor, that if I am going to do this I will build my own car and do it out of my house. People do not believe me when I say this, but winning at Kaukauna and winning the Dixieland 150, I can rank that right up there with any win I have had. Just because, as a kid, when I went to that racetrack and sat in the stands to watch my old man race there, it brought back a lot of memories, and winning there was right up there. I just love short track racing.”
Sauter admitted that he watched the Dixieland 150 before he left for Martinsville. He also said that he is building a new short- track car now as he recently sold his other one to Joe Nemechek for his son John.
With a new baby in the house, Sauter’s free time is limited and is not sure if he will have the new car ready for the Joe Shear Classic, the opening event for the ASA Midwest Tour on May 1 at Madison Int’l Speedway in Oregon, Wis. A race that he would like to participate in as it is named after his Truck Series crew chief’s father.
“I think it is really cool that the ASA Midwest Tour has that race in Joe Shear, Jr.’s dad’s honor,” Sauter said. “Last year, we wanted to get up there and run that race, but we were in Kansas with the truck and we won there. Joe’s father was a successful short-track racer and obviously taught Joe, Jr. a lot about racing and a lot about race cars. A lot of my success, pretty much anywhere I have been, has been with Little Joe. I do not know what it is, but we seemed to have hit it off. He is almost like a little brother, we can sit there and fight, yell, and scream at each other one minute. Then the next minute we are celebrating winning races. We have a unique chemistry that always seems to work. His setups match my driving style, and it means a lot to me for him to be a part of our program.”