JOHNNY SAUTER, NO. 43 CHANNELLOCK CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: (Finished 1st) HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT THE RED FLAG THERE AT THE END? "It was actually kind off disappointing, because they said in the driver's meeting that if the caution flag came out...
JOHNNY SAUTER, NO. 43 CHANNELLOCK CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO: (Finished 1st)
HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT THE RED FLAG THERE AT THE END?
"It was actually kind off disappointing, because they said in the driver's meeting that if the caution flag came out after lap 245 they weren't going to red-flag the thing, but whatever. It just put on a better show for the fans. My car was terrible on short runs. It took me five or six laps to get going because my car was real, real tight. I knew Matt was going to get a run on me no matter what I did. I felt like the transmission ratios were off, but the Channellock Chevrolet was awesome. Matt got a little aggressive on the caution, getting into the back of me, and that pissed me off. I thought I had one last opportunity to get back by him there in Turns 3 and 4 and I took it."
ON THE RESTART PRIOR TO THAT, YOU TWO HAD A PRETTY EXCITING TRIP THROUGH FOUR COMING DOWN FOR THE CHECKERED FLAG, DIDN'T YOU?
"Yeah, we did. Matt got a good run again and he drove it off into the corner and I drove it in hard. I thought if I could take a couple feet away from him and drive him into the loose stuff, and we touched. He wasn't giving up and I wasn't giving up. We drove our tails off. I don't even know how we both saved it. I'm amazed my car didn't come around and go through the infield. It was just spectacular. I can't wait to see it on tape myself."
YOU TWO ARE GOING TO HAVE BREAKFAST TOGETHER TOMORROW, RIGHT?
"I doubt it. I don't think I'm getting up for breakfast tomorrow. I'm sleeping as late as I can., I have to save myself for 400 laps tomorrow night."
WAS THERE SOMETHING GOING ON BETWEEN YOU AND MATT ALL RACE, OR WAS IT JUST AT THE END?
"We're both a couple of cheeseheads from Wisconsin. I grew up watching Matt and I thought he was an awesome driver. He is an awesome driver. It's just one of those deals, just good hard racing. I was hungry and really needed a win, and I felt like I needed a win worse than Matt did. I'm not even supposed to be here, and if it weren't for Cary Agajanian and Mike Curb, I wouldn't be. I have to thank Richard Childress too for letting me drive some other cars."
AFTER NEW HAMPSHIRE, THEY TOOK YOUR CAR APART. THERE ARE A LOT OF OFFICIALS DOWN THERE TONIGHT LOOKING AT IT. WHAT'S GOING ON THERE?
"If I said what I really wanted to say, I'd get in trouble and be in the bad graces. NASCAR's just trying to keep a level playing field. We had a bad to the bone race car here in the spring and pretty much gave it away, in my opinion. Tonight we started 29th and drove to the lead without any pit stops. That's raises a few eyebrows, I'm sure. I have a lot of good people working on this race car, Joe Shear and those guys, and we work until 4 in the morning a lot of times just to go to the track. I think we only have four full-time employees, and these guys deserve it. I told them before the race that I had a real good feeling about this one. We've worked way too hard for it and we deserve it."
IT LOOKED LIKE YOU HAD A COUPLE OF INCIDENTS WITH YOUR BROTHERS, AND WILL YOU TALK ABOUT IT AS A FAMILY?
"It's pretty funny. Jay raced me pretty hard there trying to stay on the lead lap. I was leading, and when I got to him I thought he might give me a little easier time when I got to him, but of all the guys I passed tonight, he was one of the toughest. Me and Tim have gotten into it before, but Tim's always raced me pretty clean. For the most part I didn't see those guys all night. Maybe they fell out or something."
WHAT HAPPENED ON THE PIT STOP WHERE YOU WENT FROM FIRST TO 16TH?
"That's a good question. I don't even know." [Two lug nuts came off and were put back on by hand, according to reports].
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THIS TEAM IN ADDITION TO DRIVING?
"Curb Motorsports went out of business at the end of 2001. I was screwing around one day at their shop with all their equipment there, and I saw a speedway car sitting there. I said, 'man, we ought to take that to Daytona as a one-off. I can get a good motor deal from Wegner.' Talked to Cary about it, everybody was thumbs-up Mike Curb said he'd put up the money to go. Lo and behold, the week before we were supposed to leave for Daytona, we got some money from Channellock. Then it was, 'how are we going to pull this off? We don't have any cars.' We leased some cars at the beginning of the year, got some top-10s with them and finally bought a car to take to Bristol. It still had the old body style on it. We finished 9th there and had a pretty amazing beginning to the season. In the meantime, I had been ordering chassis, and Cary gave me full control to do whatever I wanted with the whole program. I was able to hire the people I thought I needed, the guys I thought could hang the bodies the best and the chassis too. Cary just said it's your baby, do what you want with it. It's similar to what I did in ASA. The guy just gave me a checkbook and said 'here you go, you gotta do what you gotta do.' Growing up the way I did, I was always raised that you have to take care of yourself. I'm more of a hands-on type of racer. I feel better about it than just showing up and driving."
DID YOU AND MATT HAVE ANY CONTACT AFTER THE RACE?
"No. I never ran into him. I'm sure he's mad at me. That's OK. We were both racing hard and both wanted to win. I don't think he rubbed the left side of the car at all. If he did, that's OK. They make new sheet metal every day."
TALK ABOUT YOUR THREE-WIDE BATTLE FOR THE LEAD IN TURN 1.
"It was pretty hairy, because Kevin Harvick was on the inside. We're trying to win that owners' championship. I saw that orange flashing up the side, and I thought, 'well, if I can squeeze Kevin down a little bit getting in, he'll back out because he's going to try to keep the points deal alive.' I went in a little low and then when I went in I washed up a little in the middle to take a little bit of groove away from Matt and use as much race track as I could. I knew Kevin was going to be good to me. He wasn't going to take any risky chances."
IS THERE ANY CONCERN ABOUT THE LOSS OF RESPECT FROM DRIVERS OTHER THAN MATT?
"It isn't like I haven't been hit before. There's plenty of guys on my list that I feel like I owe. When I have a good enough car to get to the front, I 'm going to take every advantage. Everybody knows this is short-track racing, it's give and take and push and grind. I just had to do what I had to do. Like I said, if those guys feel like they owe me, they owe me, but there's plenty on the list that I felt like I owed, and maybe they got a little bit of that back tonight."