Wisconsin’s Johnny Sauter came into the 50th Annual Snowball Derby weekend as one of the favorites, even though it’s his first attempt in the prestigious event. Unfortunately, before Thursday practice reached lunch break, his team was forced to pack things up following multiple on-track issues that culminated with a hard crash in turn four.
Only 15 minutes into the session, the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion had an oil line come loose, setting off a trail of smoke and fluid with even a fire briefly igniting under the hood as his Super Late Model limped to the pits. The perimeter of the engine compartment was melted and burned, but after some repairs and analysis the green No. 5 machine quickly made its way back on the Five Flags Speedway surface.
Then, a few short laps later, trouble struck in a more impactful way.
“Prior proper planning prevents piss poor performance,” Sauter alliterated to Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “When I went back out the brake pedal went to the floor. I don’t know why. I rebuilt all the calipers.”
The result sent Sauter, the Oktoberfest winner at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway (WI) in his most recent Super Late Model appearance, hard into the turn four wall.
Before returning to the pit area Sauter and crew chief Joe Shear Jr. knew that the damage was too extensive to compete this weekend.
“I can’t fix it,” a befuddled Sauter remarked. “The front clip is bent too bad and the drive shaft came out of it. I don’t know. Maybe I just need to go home and collect my thoughts.”
For now, it appears to be a quick departure for an accomplished racer many were looking forward to seeing compete for the first time in Pensacola.
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Central NY & PA)
-Photo credit: Speed51.com