The Joe Shear Classic came down to a three-car battle for the win at Dells Raceway Park between three drivers at three different places in their respective careers – a NASCAR champion, a Late Model veteran, and a young gun beginning to make a name for himself. It was Johnny Sauter prevailing at the end for his seventh-career ARCA Midwest Tour victory, but it did not come without a little bit of post-race fireworks.
He and Casey Johnson were nearly side-by-side exiting turn two on the bell lap when Johnson made contact with the outside wall on the backstretch. The contact allowed Sauter to pull away for the win, while Johnson fell to third after getting passed by Gabe Sommers.
The final lap was the culmination of an exciting final 30 laps that saw both Sauter and Johnson take turns leading, with each driver getting the upper hand on separate restarts.
“He was clearly better than we were. On that restart I thought maybe I could clear him on that restart if I took the top and then he battled me hard and got by me, then I got back by him,” Sauter told Speed51. “On that last restart I took the bottom. I was struggling to say the least, trying to hold the bottom of the racetrack.”
He was honest with his take on what had transpired in the final laps of the event, admitting he raced Johnson rough late and acknowledged there may be payback coming later on down the road.
“He had a better car than me there at the end and he had a run on me and I used him up. I told him he had every right to be mad at me and he’ll get me back. People use me up all the time, that’s just the way we race nowadays, I guess.”
Johnson let his displeasure be known with Sauter after the race, climbing out of his car and going to Sauter’s machine to hash things out on the frontstretch. Normally one of the more easy-going drivers in the pit area, he was left disappointed in how he was raced in the final laps,
“It really wasn’t much of a battle. I did my end, got to the outside of him and didn’t touch him and had a great race going. He took it into his hands, he knew he was beat and he stuffed us into the fence twice.
“Maybe with the way I am, it probably won’t change anything unfortunately,” Johnson added. “I’ve had a ton of respect for Johnny through the years, he’s one of the best drivers I’ve ever competed against but he did not bring his talent today.”
With his third-place result, he will more than likely head into the season finale as the points leader with a chance for a second-straight series title. However, Oktoberfest and points were the last thing on his mind.
“I don’t care, I just got to win something. We were on the edge of winning one of the biggest races I’ve ever ran and we just got it taken away.”
Through all the late-race drama, it was a meaningful win for Sauter not only on the Wisconsin Super Late Model scene, but also in the NASCAR world. His crew chief in the NASCAR Truck Series is Joe Shear Jr, the son of the late Joe Shear.
With the history of the Shear and Sauter families a rich one, Saturday night’s triumph was just as special as his first Shear Classic win back in 2015 at Madison International Speedway.
“I know how much this race means to him, especially the older he gets. I think he understands it more now than he did years ago. It’s pretty cool to have a memorial race for your dad. My relationship with Joe over the last 20 years, and knowing his dad and my dad raced up here in the Midwest for years.
“Watching Joe walk through the pits and being around him some, and then to later on work with him and win a lot of races and a championship together, that’s been pretty awesome. It’s a special night, especially to have this race at the Dells, that means a lot to me. I grew up 40 minutes from here and this is what I consider my home track. It’s cool to get another win here.”
From Dells Raceway Park, Sauter leaves for Darlington Raceway for the NASCAR Truck Series event scheduled to go green at 2:00 p.m. ET. A second Shear Classic wins makes the rush to South Carolina a little less rough.
“It’s going to be brutal. I’m on the early flight out of Milwaukee so I’ve got quite a hike tonight and my flight leaves at 5:30 a.m. Hopefully that all goes well and we get down there and try to win a Truck race so we can compete for a championship.”
Highlights and interviews from the Joe Shear Classic will be available on the all-new Speed51.TV in the coming days. Click here to subscribe today.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo
ARCA Midwest Tour – Joe Shear Classic Results:
- Johnny Sauter
- Gabe Sommers
- Casey Johnson
- Dan Fredrickson
- John DeAngelis Jr
- Cayden Lapcevich
- Luke Fenhaus
- Justin Mondeik
- Rich Bickle Jr
- Jeff Storm
- Paul Shafer Jr
- Michael Bilderback
- Steve Dorer
- Austin Nason
- Sammy Smith
- Dennis Prunty
- Max Kahler
- Jonathan Eilen
- Ryan Farrell
- Andy Monday
- Andrew Morrissey
- Dillon Hammond
- Todd Kluever
- Skylar Holzhausen
- Dalton Zehr