NASCAR Camping World Truck Series star Johnny Sauter made the most of his off-weekend by returning to his home state and winning the ARCA Midwest Tour race at Dells Raceway Park in Wisconsin Saturday night.
Sauter took the lead from polesitter Jonathan Eilen on Lap 4 and never looked back despite Eilen’s fierce challenges throughout the 100-lap race.
Eilen stayed glued to the bumper of the leader most of the race, even trying a bump-and-run move with less than 40 laps to go. When the two leaders approached heavy lapped traffic, Sauter had the advantage on the outside groove and kept Eilen from being able to complete the pass.
“It was really dominant for 50 laps and it really started going away on me,” Sauter explained. “I was tight in the center then loose on exit, but the worse part was that I was loose on entry, so I really couldn’t arc the corner to center it. So, I had to buckle down with 30 to go. They were like, he is a half back and I am like uh oh, then lapped traffic was my friend tonight.”
While finishing second was a disappointment, Eilen ended his birthday on a positive note.
“It sucks being that close and coming up that much short,” Eilen said. “I’ll take second place any day but just can’t seal the deal on one of these.”
With only one points-counting event remaining for the ARCA Midwest Tour, the championship battle is as tight as it can get, with the top-two in the standings separated by just two markers entering the final race at LaCrosse Speedway (WI).
Dalton Zehr came into the night 12 points behind Austin Nason, but a new track record and a solid race run for Zehr narrowed the lead. Zehr finished fifth, while Nason took home a hard-fought ninth-place finish.
“We aren’t really thinking about points anymore, and I think that is when we really started taking off,” Zehr said of his success lately. “We knew we had to have good finishes and it shook out nice.”
Race fans can find full results and additional updates from Saturday's event by visiting Speed51.com's Speed Central coverage.
The final race of the 2018 Midwest Tour season takes place during the annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway on October 7.
-By Caleb Slouha, Speed51.com Midwest Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com