Johnny Sauter put on a clinic Saturday evening at Wisconsin International Raceway. He worked his way from eighth to the lead in under 20 laps and left only eight cars on the lead lap as he picked up an ARCA Midwest Tour win at one of his favorite tracks.
“This is huge, I mean to me this is the coolest race track in the state and I don’t get to race here often,” said Sauter. “I think I’ve only raced here three times and I’ve won twice, so it’s just extra special because I can remember sitting on the hill here as a kid. It’s just a great place.
“I put a lot of effort and emphasis on this race, so it feels good to have it pay off. I’ve been so fast with this car everywhere I’ve been and I got nothing to show for it, so to finally have a win with it is cool.”
Nick Murgic grabbed the early lead in the 100-lap event and held on for the first dozen laps before relinquishing it to Travis Sauter. As Travis Sauter made his way around Murgic on lap 12, Johnny Sauter was right with him. Travis Sauter moved to the lead with Johnny Sauter in tow.
Just five laps later Johnny Sauter made his move. He looked to the outside of Travis, crossed back under and made the pass on the inside to take the lead. Johnny Sauter stretched his lead to nearly a straightaway and it appeared no one would be able to catch him.
While Johnny put distance on the rest of the field, Midwest Touring stars Nathan Haseleu, Ty Majeski, Chris Weinkauf and Jonathan Eilen worked their way towards the front.
Majeski and Haseleu entered the night tied in ARCA Midwest Tour points and on lap 30, as Majeski was pressuring Haseleu for third, Haseleu slowed on the backstretch and pulled into the pits, ending his night with a mechanical problem. Majeski settled into third and began to chase down Travis Sauter for second.
Majeski got to the rear bumper of Travis Sauter, but was not able to find a way around. Travis Sauter and Majeski battled for 15 laps with Travis Sauter never leaving an opening for Majeski. On lap 79 Majeski slowed on the track and had sparks flying from his 91 machine and the caution flew. Majeski broke a rear trailing arm bracket and was forced to retire for the night.
Under this caution officials also asked Chris Weinkauf, who entered the night fourth in Midwest Tour points, to stop on the front stretch to check for a leak. It was determined Weinkauf had a leak and he was sent to the pits.
Johnny Sauter restarted on the inside and Travis Sauter to the outside. On the restart Johnny appeared to get a little loose and almost made contact with Travis Sauter, but he straightened it out, kept the lead and again stretched the distance between himself and the rest of the field and coasted to the win. Travis Sauter finished second and Jonathan Eilen finished third.
Even with the late race restart Johnny Sauter wasn’t worried about any pressure from his nephew Travis.
“I pretty much thought I had it in the bag, I’m not gonna lie,” said Johnny Sauter. “I was on cruise control there for the last 50 or 60 laps. The thing was just dialed in in practice today and I felt really good about it. I made a couple little changes before the feature and I just keep improving on it every time I race it and that’s what you saw tonight.”
There was a bit of a shake-up in the point standings as three of the top four drivers experienced problems in Kaukauna. Majeski currently carries a six point lead over Haseleu in the ARCA Midwest Tour and now Johnathan Eilen trails Majeski in third by 49 points.
The ARCA Midwest Tour returns to action again this weekend when they head to Norway Speedway on Friday, August 15th.
– By Jana Wimmer, Speed51.com Midwest Correspondent. Photo credit: Doug Hornickel/fastlapphoto.com