Travis Sauter picked up his first ARCA Midwest Tour win of the 2014 season Saturday in the Lester Buildings 100 at Dells Raceway Park in Wisconsin. After winning half a dozen or so races last year and being shut out so far this season, Sauter finally returned to a familiar place - victory lane.
“We got spoiled winning a lot of races," said Sauter. "We didn’t get complacent, but it’s hard to change things when you are winning like that. When we didn’t win, you could kind of see the morale starting to do downhill. We ran good at Madison last week and that’s two fast times in a row and now this, so hopefully we have it rolling now.”
Saturday night at Dells Raceway Park looked as though it was shaping up to be an old-fashioned duel between Travis Sauter and Chris Wimmer. Fast qualifier, Sauter, started fifth and by the halfway mark worked his way to the front and to the rear bumper of Wimmer, who led from the drop of the green. Sauter pressured Wimmer for the lead and on lap 56 Wimmer appeared go get loose out of turn four and Sauter took advantage, taking his machine to the lead.
Sauter stretched his lead over Wimmer over the next 10 laps, growing it to nearly 10 car lengths. But just as it looked like Sauter couldn’t be caught, Wimmer closed back in and on lap 71 was on the bumped of Sauter pressuring for the lead.
Wimmer and Sauter battled for four more laps when a mechanical problem sent Wimmer to the pits, ending his night early on lap 75.
“My car was kind of on the edge, so I couldn’t take it too easy," added Sauter. "I just had to focus and not miss my mark. When Chris got down on the flat over there and got loose that helped me out a lot because I was able to get by him without using my car up. It was going to be hard to get by him if he didn’t make a mistake or I didn’t pressure him into it. It wouldn’t have been a good battle if he didn’t drop out.”
“I’m not exactly sure yet what happened,” said Wimmer of his issues. “I think maybe a problem with the distributor, but we will go back to the shop and get it figured out. This is really disappointing. I thought we had a really good car tonight and it would have been fun to battle Travis for the win.”
When Wimmer pulled off, that handed second spot to Ty Majeski. He had been able to run side by side with Sauter on a restart at lap 40, but now Sauter’s lead was nearly half a track.
“I was just kind of riding," said Majeski. "I let Sauter go there and just thinking not to waste my tires. I mean there was over half way to go yet, so just kind of riding and then they got away from me and it hurt me. I had no idea that was going to be the last caution. We thought we would have another chance at it and I think we would've had something for him, but it is what it is and it was a good run.”
The final 25 laps went green and Sauter coasted to victory, winning the ARCA Midwest Tour Lester Buildings 100. This win capped off a pretty exciting week for Sauter as he welcomed his third child and in victory lane promised to give her the trophy when he got home.
“We’ve been putting in a lot of time at the shop and my wife is a real trooper putting up with all of it, having a baby and a dog that just had back surgery. We’ve had it all going on and this is dedicated to her cause she is making it happen at home.”
Jonathan Eilen came home in third, Nathan Haseleu fourth and Tim Sauter battled back from an early flat tire to finish fifth.
The ARCA Midwest Tour point standings are now closer than ever as Haseleu currently leads Majeski by just 11 points. The Tour heads to Hawkeye Downs Speedway on Saturday, July 5th before taking nearly a one-month break.
- By Jana Wimmer, Speed51.com Correspondent. Photo credits: Doug Hornickel - www.fastlapphoto.com