Over the course of a career that has seen him win 27 races in NASCAR Xfinity and Truck Series competition and earn a Truck championship in 2016, Johnny Sauter has stayed true to his roots in short track racing. He has won nearly every major Super Late Model race in the state of Wisconsin, but there is one key omission from that list.
Sauter returns to the Slinger Nationals Tuesday night looking for his first win in the event. He has struggled in his three previous attempts in the race, having finished no better than 20th.
While he doesn’t believe in testing, Sauter made the trip to Slinger Super Speedway on June 21 to compete with the local Super Late Model class to tune for the Nationals, scoring a fifth-place finish in the 75-lap event. After his top-five run two weeks ago, Sauter feels as good about his chances in the Slinger Nationals as he’s ever had.
“I like racing, especially short track racing. That’s my favorite thing. This place has been a struggle for me so I came here and raced two weeks ago. I hate testing, I think it should be illegal but I came here and tested,” Sauter told Speed51.
“I’m a lot better and I’ve got to thank the guys at Pathfinder for that, they’re the ones that have me pointed in the right direction. I think I’m decent, I feel a lot better than I did last year, that’s for sure.”
Sauter has wins at nearly every asphalt track in the state, even scoring an Xfinity Series win at Milwaukee Mile in 2005. However, the high-banked quarter-mile has proved to be a challenge throughout his career, having struggled at Slinger up until his appearance at a local show two weeks ago.
He admitted his success at other tracks around the state played a role in the lack thereof at Slinger, and it has taken time to catch up when he shows up to the Slinger Nationals.
“From everything in the state, I’ve pretty much won everywhere else I’ve been, so to come here and struggle is a bit of a mystery. It just demands a lot more out of your race car, I think. Demands a totally different setup from where I run anywhere else.
“When you have success, you’re slow to change, for a couple years I feel like I’ve had my head up my a--, really. I haven’t been making big enough swings.”
With wins in the Joe Shear Classic, Dixieland, Dick Trickle 99 and Oktoberfest, the Slinger Nationals remains the only marquee Super Late Model event in Wisconsin Sauter has yet to check off on his list of accolades. If he wins the Nationals on Tuesday night, his team’s night would have just begun.
“If I could win the Slinger Nationals, that pretty much checks off most of the big wins in the state,” he stated. “There’s a good chance we’ll be up all night having a good time afterwards, that’s for sure.”
Race fans can watch Tuesday’s Slinger Nationals live on Speed51 if they are unable to attend the prestigious race in-person. Click here to order your video ticket today.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Speed51 photo