After finding uncertainty through the off-season without a ride, Johnny Sauter returned back to ThorSport Racing, ready to chase after his second NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series title. Thus far, he has shown speed with four top-10’s in five races.
The veteran recently spoke with POPULAR SPEED about his thoughts on the year thus far, and moving forward.
POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts on you and your team’s start to the season?
JOHNNY SAUTER: I think it’s been pretty good. We’ve had speed, week-in-week-out, so that’s encouraging. We’ve had some bumps along the way, and still managed to have decent days out of those problems that we’ve had. I feel really good about where we’re at, and where we’re headed so we just have to keep it going.
PS: Where do you feel that you and ThorSport could get better to be even stronger?
SAUTER: Well, I think the biggest thing is we’ve had speed off the truck and then come race time, like this past weekend at Texas, we just weren’t good. So I obviously have to get better at what I’m feeling and the feedback that I’m giving so that we can race better ultimately. So a couple of the little things that happened to us have been preventable, but for the most part, we unload with speed each week and it’s up to us to keep that going.
I don’t think it’s a lot of big things. I think it’s just a couple things here, and a couple things there, and we’ll be knocking on the door for the win I feel like.
PS: Drivers have mixed feelings in having this early-season break. Your reaction?
SAUTER: I mean, you can’t add more races and the season goes from February to November. It’s perfect at the amount of races it is, and that means there’s going to be gaps in the schedule. I guess I just don’t pay attention to it. For me personally, and for where we are right now, we got through the first five races kind of unscaved and didn’t tear anything up.
So I’m looking at it as a positive and it gives us a chance to look at our stuff, and see what we want to do differently, or what we can maybe make better instead of just trying to constantly build. I feel like it’s a good break and comes at a good time. I do hear the criticism of the breaks and all that, but at the end of the day, the truck series schedule is what it is and if you add more races, you start to add more costs. So I’m good with it.
PS: Next race on the schedule – Dover International Speedway. What are your thoughts entering that event?
SAUTER: Well, the last few years we’ve won there so I feel really good about going back. Even prior to having ever won at Dover, I felt like it was one of my favorite race tracks, just because of the speed and how fun that place is. I love it and even if I run terrible, I love it. Great place to go, and even honestly looking further beyond that, there’s some really good race tracks for us. But Dover is definitely in the top-five favorites for this season for sure.
PS: What’s the toughest challenge of the Monster Mile?
SAUTER: Handling is really important, and track position is really important. We’re going around there so fast that its put a big emphasis on track position and clean air and things that you hear people talk about a lot. But having that said, if you have speed, you have options to move around the race track which is always encouraging. I just think the sheer speed of it. We all know that we’re going fast at that race track, but for some reason, Dover you can really feel how fast you’re going and I feel that’s what a lot of the drivers like.
PS: Beyond Dover, what track are you most excited to get to?
SAUTER: I mean, I like a lot of different tracks for a lot of different reasons. As I look ahead, I like every place, honestly. I’m probably not the biggest fan of Eldora, but beyond that, I like everywhere that we go. Charlotte is a good one, we’re going back to Texas before too long – there’s a lot of good summer races like Michigan and Bristol, all tracks that I enjoy.
PS: What track do you wish was on the NASCAR schedule that currently isn’t?
SAUTER: There’s a lot of good race tracks that aren’t on the schedule. It’s going to be a short track for sure, so the Milwaukee Mile or Lucas Oil Raceway Park, Memphis Motorsports Park. Something like that is what I would like to see on the schedule. I’m a short track guy so I’d like to see us go to some of those types of places for sure.
PS: We’ve seen drivers explore running different series and cars. Is there anything on your bucket list to do?
SAUTER: No, not really, just ultimately winning a second championship is on my list. I still do some of the late model stuff here and there. There’s one or two races left on that deal that I’d like to win. But as far as Cup or anything like that, I’m good.
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