Late Race Cautions Foil Sauter's Two-Tire Strategy at Michigan Brooklyn, Mich. (June 12, 2010) -- Johnny Sauter finished 14th in Saturday's VFW 200 at Michigan International Speedway after a late-race gamble to take two-tires on the final pit...
Late Race Cautions Foil Sauter's Two-Tire Strategy at Michigan
Brooklyn, Mich. (June 12, 2010) -- Johnny Sauter finished 14th in Saturday's VFW 200 at Michigan International Speedway after a late-race gamble to take two-tires on the final pit stop was derailed by two late caution flags that bunched the field and enabled drivers with four fresh tires to race past Sauter's No. 13 EZ Grill/Curb Records Chevrolet.
Sauter fought a loose condition throughout the early stages of the race, and despite a major chassis adjustment called by crew chief Joe Shear, Jr., Sauter was never able to find the feel he was looking for to gain track position and get in contention to win. Following the third caution of the day -- which was actually a 40-minute delay for a brief rain shower -- the race restarted on lap 42 ran for an extended period of time without a caution flag. Sauter was running ninth when he readied for a green-flag pit stop with 22 laps to go when Shear called for a two-tire stop to gain track position. The gamble paid off as Sauter jumped to sixth, but that strategy would only pay off in the race ran to its conclusion under green.
With 17 laps to go, Sauter's teammate Matt Crafton had engine problems which drew the fourth caution of the day. Sauter fought hard to maintain position on the restart, and a subsequent restart on lap 93, but the trucks with four fresh tires were able to race past through the long, sweeping corners.
"We aren't happy at all with today," Sauter said. "We're here to run up front and win races and we were never in a position to do that today. We aren't here to run around in ninth or tenth, we want to be up front leading laps and fighting for the win. We were really loose all day long and we tried to make some adjustments and they didn't help like we thought they would. We tried a Hail Mary at the end with the two-tire stop and it put us up close to the top five but we needed it to go green the rest of the way. As soon as the caution came out we were a sitting duck for those guys with four tires. We've already put this one behind us, we're looking ahead to going to Iowa. We're happy to have had EZ Grill on with us for this race, we just wish we were a little closer to the front for them."
Sauter remains fifth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship standings, 94 points behind fourth-place Ron Hornaday and 264 points behind leader Todd Bodine.
The next race for Johnny Sauter and the No. 13 Curb Records Chevrolet is the Iowa 200 at the 0.875-mile Iowa Speedway on Sunday June 11.