BUSCH: Daytona II: Johnny Sauter race report

Sauter sets pace for second half with fifth-place finish at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 7) - PayDay Racing driver Johnny Sauter showed signs of brilliance July 4 under the lights at the Daytona International Speedway, as he drove the...

Sauter sets pace for second half with fifth-place finish at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 7) - PayDay Racing driver Johnny Sauter showed signs of brilliance July 4 under the lights at the Daytona International Speedway, as he drove the PayDay Chevrolet to his third top-five finish of the year in the Winn-Dixie 250. Sauter, who may have passed the most cars of the night, put on a performance as exciting as the post-race fireworks spectacular.

Sauter's fifth-place finish was the team's seventh of the year. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the event, followed by Michael Waltrip, Jamie McMurray and RCR teammate Ron Hornaday, respectively. Sauter's late-race charge could have been more successful, if not for a hole in the left-front fender.

The PayDay team remains the top-ranked unit in Busch Series team standings, and Sauter remains eighth in the driver rankings, 230 points behind the leader, Scott Riggs.

"The PayDay Chevrolet was awesome tonight," Sauter said after the race. "I can't ever say enough about this PayDay team. These guys worked really hard to give me a great car this weekend. I basically totaled this car in Talladega, and everybody at RCR worked really hard to put this thing back together. If it wasn't for a hole in the front end of this thing, who knows how far up we could've made it."

Sauter qualified the PayDay Chevrolet in the eighth spot for the event. It was a great position, considering the team only had about 12 laps on the car since it was rebuilt after Talladega. In Happy Hour, the final practice session before the race, Sauter made several long runs in race trim and practiced drafting with the faster cars. Sauter knew his car was good, but requested that the team make more adjustments to be competitive in the race. The team responded and put a great race setup under Sauter for the event.

At the drop of the green flag on Friday night, the field sped off, with the exception of the No. 25 and the No. 87 cars, both directly in front of Sauter. The No. 25 missed a shift, and the No. 87 ran into the rear of the No. 25 machine. Sauter was forced to lock up his brakes and flat-spotted his tires. By the time Sauter was able to gather up the PayDay machine, he had fallen to the 27th position.

Sauter maintained his composure and methodically worked his way through traffic. By lap 20, Sauter had already climbed back into the 15th position. Just a few laps later, Sauter rode in 11th, and had his first look at the top 10 since the start of the race.

A lap 42 caution brought the entire field onto pit road. The PayDay team changed four tires, added two cans of fuel and made a spring rubber and air pressure adjustment during its stop. As Sauter left the pit stall, the PayDay Chevrolet stalled, causing Sauter to lose several positions on pit road. He returned to the racing surface in the 15th position.

The mistake in the pits didn't prove too costly, and by lap 60 Sauter was in 10th. He told the team that they had made a great adjustment. By lap 68, Sauter was in seventh, and looking to make a move into the top five.

Eventually, Sauter would move into the fifth position, where he would remain for the rest of the event. A hole in the left-front fender prevented Sauter from running the low line. He was relegated to the high groove, where no one would provide him drafting help. At the drop of the checkered flag, Sauter was in fifth, and extremely happy with the day.

The next stop for Busch Series is July 12 at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Sauter is the defending race winner of the Tropicana Twister 300. The race can be seen live on NBC at 2:30 p.m. EDT and heard live on MRN radio at 2:30 p.m. EDT.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jamie McMurray , Scott Riggs , Johnny Sauter