Ladies and Gentleman, Meet Johnny Sauter Driver of the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo You would think Johnny Sauter, a 23-year-old kid from a small Wisconsin town, would have the weight of the world on his shoulders. Some of you...
Ladies and Gentleman, Meet Johnny Sauter
Driver of the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo
You would think Johnny Sauter, a 23-year-old kid from a small Wisconsin town, would have the weight of the world on his shoulders. Some of you might suppose he has a large legacy to live-up to driving the ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo in the NASCAR Busch Series. One or two of you may even believe the pressure of driving a championship car for a championship team would be unbearable in itself. One guy, Johnny Sauter, thinks you're wrong.
Johnny Sauter hails from the American Speed Association (ASA), a primarily Midwestern race series that has fed some of the Busch Series biggest stars including Johnny Benson, Adam Petty, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Raines. Sauter took the ASA by storm in 2001, not only garnering the Rookie of the Year title, but also the ASA Series Championship with a championship team (A.P. Performance). Sauter also set the ASA most wins record in a single season (10 of 20), became the first person to win the rookie title and championship in one season and earned more money than any ASA driver in a single season.
Sauter did all of this with only fifteen races worth of experience. So, the fact that he's only run five NASCAR Busch Series races does not bother him one bit. The fact that he's entering a championship car with a championship team doesn't daunt him. ACDelco's legacy in the Busch Series (three championships and two rookie of the year titles) only bolsters his confidence.
Does he feel any pressure?
"The only pressure I feel is the pressure I put on myself. And to tell you the truth, that's worse than any pressure out there, more than what a sponsor or team could put on me. You have to take that pressure home with you. ACDelco and Richard Childress Racing (RCR) don't bombard me with it. That speaks a lot for them considering who they are and what they've accomplished," Sauter explains.
"A year ago none of this was happening. I was just getting things underway at A.P. and getting ready to race ASA. It amazes me how fast things have come. In August I got a call from the Busch Series manager, Will Lind, at RCR saying Richard (Childress) wanted to talk to me. At Michigan (International Speedway) of that month, we announced that I was splitting the ride with Kevin Harvick. Now it's my ride, just me. To be where I'm at from one year ago, wow. Two years ago I was in Minnesota, scraping money together to buy a late model. I count my blessings." Daytona, GNC 300
The ASA doesn't run on the large superspeedways like NASCAR's top-three series. Coming to Daytona was a first for the youngest Sauter boy (one of four). In January, the No. 2 ACDelco team tested at Daytona International Speedway.
"I had come down with the No. 31 RCR Winston Cup car during their test and observed. Then I went to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway with the No. 3 RCR Busch Series team and watched Jay (Sauter) test. I didn't get one lap, so by the time it was my turn, I was ready to go," Sauter said.
"It was unreal. The best roller coaster ride I've ever been on. It was also a lot bumpier than I had imagined. And when we drafted, feeling that kind of speed was awesome. We had a solid test and we're going to come back to Daytona with something really good. I can't wait to be in the pack of drivers and get more time drafting."