KANSAS CITY, Kan. – After a NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series win at Dover (Del.) Int’l Speedway a week ago, all was right in Johnny Sauter’s world.
Fast forward to Friday night at Kansas Speedway, and Sauter had little to smile about in regards to his run in the Digital Ally 250.
Sauter was running inside the top 10 and appeared to be a threat during the first stage of the race when he suddenly slowed to a crawl down the backstretch on the 21st of 167 laps.
The 2016 Truck Series champion, in his first season back with ThorSport Racing after a three-year stint with GMS Racing, limped to the garage area in frustration, the victim of a major mechanical failure.
With parts and pieces spread across their garage stall, Sauter’s crew was eventually able to repair the No. 13 Tenda Heal Ford F-150 and get him back on track, but the damage was done at that point.
Sauter finished 22nd, 70 laps down, after thinking early he might have a race-winning truck under him.
“I don’t know if the input shaft broke off the front of the transmission or the clutch went out, but this was definitely not what we needed with our Tenda Ford F-150 tonight,” said Sauter. “We had decent speed and I figured we were going to be alright. I felt like if we came in and made one or two adjustments, we were going to have something that we could race with, but we didn’t get that far.
“We’ll just dig harder (next time). … I can’t thank everyone at ThorSport enough for all they do.”
With Friday night’s disappointment, Sauter plummeted from second in driver points and just four behind leader Grant Enfinger to fifth in the rankings, 35 points adrift.
The good news? He’s already locked into the playoffs by virtue of his Dover win from seven days earlier.
“That’s where winning comes in handy (with this system),” Sauter noted.