Travis Sauter held off a late-race charge by Dan Fredrickson to win the Oktoberfest 200 ARCA Midwest Tour event Sunday at Wisconsin’s La Crosse Speedway. This marks the fourth time Sauter has won the prestigious event, but the first time as a 200 lapper.
“It means a lot,” said Sauter, “My family is here and it means a lot to have them here and get to look at the pictures years down the road, that’s the most important thing to me.”
Sauter’s dad Tim started on the pole grabbed the early lead in the Oktoberfest 200. Behind him Travis Sauter, Chris Wimmer and Fredrickson played musical chairs in positions two through four. Travis Sauter had worked his way up to second, but on a restart on lap 45, Wimmer got by him and into second and Fredrickson followed and moved into third. Travis Sauter battled back though and worked his way back by Fredrickson and then Wimmer on lap 55. Fredrickson got back by Wimmer for third on lap 60, but 15 laps later Wimmer took the position again.
At the front Travis Sauter began to chase down Tim Sauter and was on his rear bumper as the scheduled caution flew at lap 110. Drivers had five laps under caution to put on three new tires and make adjustments to their cars. After Wimmer moved around Fredrickson and back into third, Fredrickson began to fade and at the competition caution had fallen back to eighth, with Griffin McGrath and Jacob Goede sitting fourth and fifth.
As the green flag flew again, Tim Sauter jumped to the lead once again. Wimmer and Travis Sauter battled for second with Sauter prevailing and setting his sights on Tim Sauter. Travis stalked father Tim around the track looking for a way to get around him. On lap 119 Travis finally jumped to the outside and made the upper groove work, taking the lead.
Meanwhile Fredrickson was mounting his charge back to the front of the field. Jacob Goede worked his way around Wimmer and into third and Fredrickson was right behind him, following into fourth on lap 130. Just three laps later Fredrickson made his move around Goede and was back in the top three.
The caution flew with just over 50 laps to go, cutting down the separation amongst the top three. After the restart Fredrickson closed in on Tim Sauter and wasted little time moving into second. McGrath worked his way around Goede and now sat fourth as the laps were winding down.
The caution flew again with 34 laps to go and erased a huge lead by Travis Sauter over Dan Fredrickson.
“When I had the big lead and he got to second I was asking if he was faster and they said maybe half a tenth,” said Travis Sauter, “So I knew it was going to be a good race. The restart was important. He kind of jumped the first one and I kinda let him because I knew they would call it off. I was able to get a jump on the second one and get the lead. Whoever got the lead on the restart was probably going to win.”
On the restart Travis Sauter retained the lead from the inside row, but Fredrickson didn’t let him get away. Fredrickson followed in the tire tracks of Travis Sauter around La Crosse Speedway waiting for a chance to make his move.
With 11 laps to go Fredrickson tried to look to the inside of Travis Sauter, but Sauter slammed the door. Sauter managed to put a little distance between himself and Fredrickson, but five laps later Fredrickson was all over the rear bumper of Sauter once again.
Sauter was able to hold off Fredrickson’s charge for the second time and hung on to win the Oktoberfest 200.
“My car kind of got tight towards the end,” added Sauter, “It was hard to drive and not over drive it because my car turned so well for most of the day I could overdrive it and it would turn and then when it got tight he caught up to me and I was able to quit overdriving it and get away a little bit, at least a car length, and that’s all you need.”
“It was a fast car, but it wasn’t enough,” said Fredrickson, “I thought I had something for Travis on the restart, but I was so nervous about getting down right away, the outside was really, really bad. I spent a lot of time and tires trying to pass Tim Sauter there and I think that hurt me in the end. I don’t like secnd, but it’ll have to do.”
McGrath finished third with Goede fifth and Andrew Morrisey fifth.
Ty Majeski and Nathan Haseleu had been in a heated battled for the ARCA Midwest Tour point title, with Majeski holding just a nine point advantage heading into the final race of the year.
Majeski set fast time, putting more distance between himself and Haseleu heading into the racing event. But Majeski got caught up in a wreck in the heat race and was forced into a back-up car. Majeski stayed in the top 10 all race, finishing ninth, while Haseleu struggled in the first 100 laps, but fought back for an eighth place finish. Majeski claimed the point title and became the first driver to win the Rookie of the Year title and point championship in the same year.
More on Majeski’s championship run in the coming days on Speed51.com.
– Jana Wimmer, Speed51.com Midwest Correspondent
Photo Credit: Doug Hornickel/FastLapPhotos.com