Johnny Sauter and his family recently moved back to his home state of Wisconsin and now live just an hour from Slinger Super Speedway. While family is the main reason for the move back to cheesehead land, it also allows him to check some races off his bucket-list, like the prestigious Slinger Nationals.
“I’m 37 years old and doing my first Slinger Nationals,” joked Johnny Sauter.
Over the years Sauter has sat in the stands at Slinger Speedway more times than he can count, however he has never raced at the high banked ¼ mile track.
“Obviously I went there a million times as a kid and watched the old man race,” Sauter told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “But, to be honest, I don’t know why I’ve never raced there before up until this year.”
So Sauter decided to jump right in and not only record his first ever race at Slinger Super Speedway, but do so in the prestigious Slinger Nationals. The race not only comes with one of the highest payouts in the Midwest, $9,999 to win, plus extra payout to lap leaders, but winning the Slinger Nationals is about more than just taking home a big paycheck.
“It’s not about the money,” said Sauter. “It’s about being able to say you won that race. It’s definitely at the top of the list, over any other race that you win, I don’t care, across the board, it’s just a big race. And it goes back to being a kid and watching races there.”
Sauter tested at the 33-degrees of banking at Slinger last week, making his first ever laps at the track coined the ‘the world’s fastest quarter mile’. During his four-hour test session the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver gathered a lot of information, but also learned that there is room for improvement before the 199-lap Slinger Nationals on Tuesday, July 14.
“It was probably a little different than I thought it was going to be,” said Sauter. “Racing at the places I’ve raced at, I just wasn’t sure what to expect and the set-up kind of threw me for a loop and I was kind of in a box at my test. I’m glad that I went there and tested because I don’t think that’s a place where you can just show up and be successful.”
Over the past few weeks, Sauter has also leaned on other local drivers and some firsthand scouting to prepare for the 36th annual Slinger Nationals.
“Dennis Prunty helped me out quite a bit,” Sauter said. “I’ve put a lot of effort into this. I’ve been there multiple times the past few days picking out tires and went to the races on Sunday as a spectator.”
With a star studded field all vying for a win at the prominent Slinger Nationals, Sauter hopes all his preparation will lead to a successful Slinger Super Speedway debut.
“The hardest thing is going to be qualifying in the top 12, especially for someone who has never qualified there,” said Sauter. “And looking back at qualifying results it looks like it’s been pretty tight.”
However, Sauter seems to think he has a good idea of how things will play out in once the green flag is dropped at the start of the race.
“In the race handling looks like it’s a premium, like it is everywhere,” Sauter said. “I imagine the field will spread out, so you just have to be careful on the initial start and let things sort out a little bit. When it comes down to the end you need to be pretty aggressive.”
-By Jana Wimmer, Speed51.com Midwest Editor – Twitter: @JWimm22
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com Photo