READY TO WIN IT ALL? Johnny Sauter, fresh off a holiday season with his wife Cortney and children Penn and Paige, is ready for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to start. At the annual NASCAR Media Day last week, he was voted by the NASCAR media as the one to “win it all” in 2012. While he’s humbled, the veteran driver knows a full field and a stout schedule of 22 races stands ahead of him. After all, he’s no stranger to a challenge – almost overtaking champion Austin Dillon last year after coming back from a deficit of 20 points at Homestead-Miami Speedway; winning the race and narrowly missing the championship by six points.
NEW YEAR, NEW SPONSOR: Sauter brings a new sponsor to the table in 2012. First-time sponsor The Peanut Roaster, parent company to Hot Honeys Honey Roasted Chipotle Peanuts, as well as other brands available on Peanut.com, joins Curb Records as a co-primary sponsor on the No. 13 truck. In Daytona, Sauter will pilot the “Hot Honeys” truck, showcasing the brand’s most popular peanut brands – and a new “honeycomb” paint scheme. WING IT: The No. 13 team, along with Sauter, will host a “NASCAR Night” at the Wing House Oceanwalk Daytona Beach on Wednesday, February 22 for fans in the Daytona area. He and teammate Matt Crafton will sign autographs and give away almost $5000 in Daytona 500 tickets for some lucky fans in attendance.
CHASSIS HISTORY: The No. 13 team will utilize chassis No. 25 this weekend at Daytona International Speedway. The “tried and true” superspeedway chassis for the No. 13 team, it has been in rotation with Sauter and crew chief Joe Shear, Jr for the last few seasons. Its last appearance was at Talladega Superspeedway, where after a challenging crash, Sauter powered back to a 15th place, top 20 finish at the checkered flag.
PREVIOUS RACE RECAP: Sauter drove the No. 13 home to Victory Lane at Homestead-Miami Speedway in a dramatic rain-delayed finish. With just 15 laps to go, Sauter sat in the lead ahead of competitor Denny Hamlin, when the rain began to fall. Race control made the call, and Sauter – after leading much of the race and executing a near-perfect combination of racing and pit stops all night – became the winner and the championship runner-up for the 2012 season.
THOUGHTS FROM THE DRIVER: Johnny Sauter What can you take from 2011 to be successful in 2012? “The biggest thing we can do is look back at last season and see where did we lose points and what could we have done to prevent that. Obviously, there’s a bunch of red flags that stick up that we know. Having said that, I don’t think we can really focus on 2011 too much because it’s yesterday’s news. I think coming out in 2012 with the Toyota support and changing manufacturers, new sponsors — essentially my whole team is back and my crew chief. I feel like we can pick up right where we left off and ultimately try to win races and a championship.”
Do you enjoy the diverse competition in the Truck Series? “That’s what makes NASCAR and auto racing so great is competition. Just when you think you have it figured out, you find yourself leading laps and winning races and then two weeks later with the same setup, you’re running 10th. Ty Dillon coming in is great. (Ron) Hornaday landing in a position — that’s great. The same old guys and new faces — the Truck Series is a great place for all that and to see the stars of tomorrow. Just happy to be there and hopefully I can contend for a championship.”
What do you expect in the Daytona Truck Series race? “I really don’t know. With the new grill openings and things that they’ve put on the trucks — I don’t know that the tandem is going to work. I’m the wrong guy to be asking about racing here at Daytona in the trucks because I haven’t even been able to hardly finish races here. I expect it to be action-packed like it always is. I expect there to be some wrecks. It’s very important to just try to finish here and take what you can get.”