Driver Points: 4th (-43)
Owner Points: 5th
Newton, IA (June 20, 2015) – For Nextant Aerospace driver, Johnny Sauter, the race results for Friday night’s American Ethanol 200 presented by Enogen at Iowa Speedway in Newton, didn’t reflect the promising run the No. 98 ThorSport Racing team had in the ninth annual event at the 7/8-mile track.
Starting 20th, Sauter entered the ninth race on the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) schedule leading all active series drivers with top-five finishes at Iowa Speedway. Making his ninth start at the “Fastest Short Track on the Planet,” the Necedah, Wisc. driver looked to be on track for another solid night, running consistently inside the top-five in the first half of the 200-lap event. Sauter even led the field for 14 laps, before pit strategy mired the ThorSport Racing driver a lap down while debris from a late-race accident on the frontstretch caused heavy damage to the splitter on the No. 98 Toyota Tundra. The combination of events relegated the ThorSport Racing driver to a 17th-place finish Friday night.
Sauter ran as high as first and as low as 20th, but maintained an average running position of 9.9 throughout the 200-lap event. Scored inside the top-10 by the second caution flag of the night, at lap 24, crew chief Doug George opted to bring the No. 98 machine to pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments to help Sauter find rear side bite. Restarting 13th at lap 30, Sauter would make his way through traffic and benefit from a caution just 12 laps later when the race leaders were forced to pit, allowing Sauter to take over the top spot and lead the field for the second time this year.
Sauter, who led 14 of the ensuing laps, would eventually lose the top spot to ThorSport Racing teammate Cameron Hayley at lap 58. Running inside the top-five, Sauter was forced to make a scheduled green-flag pit stop at lap 116 for four tires, fuel and adjustments, while the race leaders, who were on a different pit strategy, were able to stay out. Unfortunately, a caution at lap 122, for a spin in Turn 2, would trap the No.98 machine a lap down to the race leaders in the 15th position.
Working hard to get back on the lead lap, Sauter would fight for the “Lucky Dog” position, but settle for a “wave around” at lap 152, placing him back on the lead lap. Unfortunately, just three laps later, the No. 8 and 75 machines would make contact, littering the frontstretch with debris. With nowhere to go, Sauter would get clipped in the right front splitter with debris, causing heavy damage to the No. 98 Toyota Tundra. Doug George would bring the series veteran to pit road multiple times under the five-lap caution for repairs, but Sauter would be forced to limp home to a 17th-place finish, two laps down to race winner, Erik Jones.
“We weren’t bad out front, we just got really loose on that long green-flag run and lost track position. We were forced to make that pit stop under green and then the caution flag came out a few laps later, catching us a lap down, and we just never recovered. The damage was unfortunate, but we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Doug (George) did the best he could to repair the splitter without going behind the wall. With only 15 laps remaining, we just had to deal with it and take the finish we got at that point.”
- Johnny Sauter finished 17th in Friday night’s American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway
- In nine starts at the 7/8-mile track, Sauter has six top-five finishes
- Sauter led the 32-truck field once for 14 laps on Friday night
- Running as high as first, and as low as 20th, Sauter maintained an Average Running Position of 9.9 throughout the 200-lap event
- In 2015, Sauter has four top-five and seven top-10 finishes
- The ThorSport Racing driver fell to fourth in the 2015 NCWTS driver point standings following the ninth race of the season
- Erik Jones won the American Ethanol 200 followed by Brandon Jones (second), Tyler Reddick (third), Matt Crafton (fourth), and Christopher Bell (fifth). Sauter’s ThorSport Racing teammate, Cameron Hayley, was 19th
- In 161 career NCWTS starts, Sauter has 10 wins, 60 top-five and 93 top-10 finishes
- Up next: The NCWTS will take two weeks off before heading to Kentucky Speedway in Sparta for the UNOH 225 on Thursday, July 9