218_Anthem Annual 2017 February Edition.p1

2017 Anthem Annual February

“It took us a little while in the middle part of the summer to get it rolling,” Sauter said, reflecting on his championship. “We were consistent knocking down top 10s and a few top fives here and there, but yeah, I’m not shocked at all. … I feel that strongly about the people that we have.” Sauter saved his best for when it mattered most, winning twice in the inaugural Camping World Truck Series Chase to punch his ticket to the winner-take-all season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Sauter then took care of business, finishing third in the race and best among the four title contenders to leave South Florida with a championship trophy hand. A major NASCAR series title was a long time coming for Sauter, a second-generation driver and Wisconsin native who won an ASA title in 2001 and has more than 80 starts in each of NASCAR’s top three series. Becoming a truck champion was especially meaningful for Sauter when considering how close he had previously come. He finished runner-up for the championship with Shear atop his pit box in 2011 and ranked fourth in points in 2013, 2014 and 2015 — the former two fourthplace finishes coming while ThorSport teammate Matt Crafton won the title. “I’ve wanted a driver’s championship for 15 years,” said Sauter, whose late father, Jim, was a legend on Midwestern short tracks. “Everybody wants to be a champion. You want to win races, ultimately, and you want to be in the hunt. I said that this championship would mean a lot. I didn’t know what it would mean to me until it really happened, but for my family … it’s just cool. My dad had raced for 40 years. So it’s just cool to grow up in a racing family, go to so many racetracks throughout the Midwest, and to be a champion in one of the top three NASCAR divisions. That’s just something that I hope the family can enjoy.”  Sauter credits longtime NASCAR premier series crew chief turned GMS Racing competition director Mike Beam, who oversees the day-to-day operations of GMS, for helping convincing him to come on board. But there were other factors in play, too. “You know, the killer instincts that Mike has, all he says is, ‘I want to win and we need to kick their butts,’ and it’s very motivating, for me anyway,” Sauter said. “I like to hear that kind of talk. Having said that, you know, I think it was very important for me to get back in a Chevrolet. I felt very strongly about that, being a GM kid. But you know, people is a big ingredient. There’s just a lot of little things. I could sit here all night and talk about it, but it’s just the whole package. I just felt very comfortable.” Johnny Sauter celebrated his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title in grand fashion at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images Johnny Sauter punched his ticket to the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship 4 with a victory at Martinsville Speedway in October. Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images 218 ANTHEM MOTORSPORTS ANNUAL


2017 Anthem Annual February
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