The Joe Shear Classic at Madison International Speedway has always been on the radar for Johnny Sauter. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver has always said that this was a win he wanted personally, and on Sunday he achieved that goal.
The reason was two-fold. One was for his best friend and the second was for a memorable moment that he continues to cherish today.
Sauter led all 100 laps en route to becoming the sixth different winner in the ARCA Midwest Tour season opening event at Wisconsin’s fastest half-mile oval in Oregon, Wisconsin.
He held off a late charge from his nephew Travis Sauter to get the cherished victory.
“This is cool, I have never won at Madison before, and I think this is my fifth time here. To get this win, it’s a big deal, ” Sauter said in victory lane. “My relationship with Joe Shear Jr., (son of the late driver the event is named after) and all we have been through together, including living together for seven years and is still my best friend. I know what this will mean to him.”
The second part why the victory was important was more personal as he thought about his father, Jim Sauter, who passed away last fall.
“My dad’s relationship with Joe Sr. is just a cool story,” Sauter said while holding back tears. “I wanted to win this race in a bad, bad way and it means just everything to me. My old man was the best if you ask me, and obviously I am biased and that is my opinion. I remember being a five-year-old kid when my old man won the Capital 300 here, and that is a family picture I still have up on my bedroom dresser to this day.
“I miss my dad.”
Sauter had a big lead with three laps go when he put himself in the middle of two lapped cars going into turn three. This allowed Travis Sauter to get within a car length of Johnny Sauter, but that was as close as the nephew would get to his uncle as the checkered flag flew on the field.
“I was hoping they would hold him up a little bit,” Travis Sauter said after the race. “I could see he was getting sideways off the corner and I thought I had a shot, but I just ran out of time.”
While he hoped to be the second two-time winner of the Joe Shear Classic, Sauter knew this win was special for his uncle.
“I’m happy for Johnny,” Sauter said. “Joe Shear Jr. is a major influence on his career and mine also for that matter. I am sure that Joe will be happy that Johnny won it and it’s cool to see this.”
Defending ARCA Midwest Tour champion Ty Majeski was third with two-time winner Nathan Haseleu finishing fourth. Nick Murgic rounded out the top five.
The race only had two cautions in the early going. The first occurred on lap two with a multi-car wreck in turns three and four involving Skylar Holzhausen, Griffin McGrath, Jeremy Miller, James Swan and Jim Olson.
The second caution came on lap four when Natalie Decker slowed on the frontstretch and came to a stop.
The final 96 laps were caution free.
The ARCA Midwest Tour will be back in action on Saturday, May 16th at State Park Speedway in Wausau, Wisconsin for the running of the Cabin Fever 100.
Midwest Tour Live powered by Speed51.com replay at: CLICK HERE
ARCA MIDWEST TOUR
JOE SHEAR CLASSIC
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– Kevin Ramsell, Speed51.com Director of Business/Midwest Editor. Twitter: @KevinRamsell
Photo Credit: Jason Shultz/Speed51.com