It’s been common to hear the Sauter name ring out over the public address system at Wisconsin International Raceway. On Tuesday, August 7, fans will once again hear the Sauter name as NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Johnny Sauter heads back to the legendary facility seeking another victory in the Dixieland 250.
Sauter is the 2010 winner of the Dixieland 250, one of the biggest races in the Dairyland each year.
Winning at Wisconsin International Raceway means a lot to Sauter because the tricky track is his favorite from when he was a kid.
“I went to a lot of race tracks as a kid, but that’s the one that always stuck out to me as my favorite,” explained the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion. “Even to this day when I go back to that track and in the pits and there’s still my dad’s number five in the concrete from where his pit stall used to be. To me it’s kind of hallowed ground. That’s the way I look at that place.”
Sauter, who grew up about two hours away from WIR in Necedah, Wisconsin, has a bit of a “feast or famine” history with the half-mile D-shaped oval. He either wins, or something happens.
“I’ve only won there twice,” Sauter began. “The first time I went I melted the brakes off of it. Then I went back the next year and won. Then I won in 2014, so the third time I went I won it. Then in 2015 I set a track record and got wrecked on lap five. Then in 2016 I led like 100-something laps and with seven to go I broke the right-front hub. That was definitely going to be a win. I feel like every time I go there I’ve been pretty tough.”
Judging by those results, yes, Sauter has been pretty tough every time he’s been to the place known by its regulars simply as “Kaukauna.”
However, Sauter said this year he feels something has been missing.
“My stuff hasn’t been as fast as it usually is,” he admitted. “I’ve been working my butt off just revamping everything. I’ve got a whole different package going Tuesday. I won’t be there Monday for the practice but I’ll be there Tuesday and I feel like we’ll be pretty good.”
Sauter described Kaukauna as “tricky” and a fun place to race. When asked why, Sauter said it has a nice combination of everything a racer looks for in a track.
“There’s a big bump getting into turn one that’s pretty tough to get compliance over and still maintain turning ability through that turn,” he explained. “It’s kind of a tight turn with not a lot of banking. The backstretch is rough and it has a lot of character. Then you go into turn three and use a lot of brakes. It’s kind of a sweeping corner with more banking. Then you come off the exit of turn four and you have the kink in the frontstretch, so you’re kind of making it a double turn there. That’s what makes it so tricky. The roughness of the race track and the two totally different corners are definitely the toughest parts.”
Race fans can watch Sauter go for the win in the ARCA Midwest Tour Dixieland 250 live on Tuesday with Speed51.com’s live pay-per-view stream.
Fans can purchase their online video ticket for just $19.99 by clicking here.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Associate Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images