Sauter's Rollercoaster Day at Homestead Ends in Third Place
Homestead, Fl. (November 20, 2010) -- Johnny Sauter had a tumultuous evening in the Ford 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday, but skillful driving in traffic and a never-give-up attitude from the driver resulted in a third-place finish for the No. 13 FarmPaint.com/Curb Records Chevrolet. It was Sauter's tenth top-three finish of the season and his fourth consecutive.
Sauter started third and led 14 laps early on before pitting under the first caution. Although he had difficulty on pit road on each of his first two stops, dropping him deep into the field, a perfectly handling truck allowed him to knife his way through the field and back towards the front. A scrape with Kyle Busch and the turn two wall with 34 laps to go resulted in some slight damage to the right front fender and suspension, but Sauter was still able to run laps as fast, or faster, than the top two as the laps wound down.
"It's frustrating to have problems on pit road, but we had a great truck and we got back to the front," Sauter said. "We were absolutely killing them getting into the corners all night long. I was really apprehensive going into the race because I had no idea what the racetrack was going to do. It did one thing in practice (on Thursday night) and another thing in practice this morning. We were a little loose, then we were a little tight so I told Joe (Shear, crew chief) to split the difference and it worked."
Sauter dropped back to tenth after his second pit stop due to a lugnut falling off on the left front, costing him several seconds and seven positions. But once the race restarted Sauter quickly regained several of those lost positions and found himself battling for position with Busch. Coming off turn two, Busch clipped the wall and bounced into Sauter which then sent Sauter sliding into the wall himself. The contact damaged the right front fender and knocked the toe-in out. From there, Sauter fought a tight condition for the remainder of the race which hampered his chances to battle for the win at the end.
"We got up into the fence and it hurt the truck a little for the end," Sauter said. "I really think we had the truck to beat here tonight. Even after the trouble we had on pit road I thought we could still get up there and win but the driver got a little overzealous there and we got up into Kyle and it knocked the splitter off it and knocked the toe-in out. After that we were just way too tight. But I think it says a lot about our team that our trucks are the fastest out there week in and week out. I am so proud of everyone at ThorSport Racing and appreciate all of the effort they put in to get us up front every week. We have some things we need to work on for next year -- just like every other team out there -- but the way we closed the season out I don't see any reason why we can't start off next year just as strong and go after the championship."
Sauter finished the 2010 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season third in the championship standings, 261 points behind champion Todd Bodine and 54 points behind second-place Aric Almirola. Sauter scored one win (Kansas), 14 top-five finishes, including five second-place finishes, and 16 top-ten finishes.
Sauter, along with the top five drivers in the NCWTS championship standings, will be honored for their performance throughout the season at the series awards banquet at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel on Monday November 22. After a three month hiatus, the series returns to action in the 2011 season opener, the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway on Friday February 11.