SafeAuto Racing Member Johnny Sauter proved that 2011 can be a big year by delivering a strong performance and a fourth-place finish in the 2011 Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway. This is the third consecutive year that Sauter has finished in the top five at Phoenix.
Sauter was extremely impressed with his team’s performance.”It was a solid night for me and my guys, I am so proud of them,” said the racer. “We chased it all night long and freaking dug. The guys did an amazing job in the pits, and I can’t say that enough.”
He made impressive strides early on in the race by protecting the seventh position and following teammate Matt Crafton – even after giving feedback in the first 30 laps that the truck was rolling over and having trouble in the corners. “We were fighting loose, tight, loose, tight all night long – just couldn’t get that perfect balance,” Sauter said after the race.
Taking four tires and fuel at lap 38, the team also worked on air pressure to protect from splitter damage. Sauter went on to restart seventh after a lap 41 caution and motor to fourth by lap 63. Holding the spot for 25 laps until the next caution warranted a pit stop, Sauter wheeled the truck through a fast pit stop with four tires, trackbar and air pressure adjustments and as crew chief Joe Shear Jr said, “enough gas to get us through this thing as the tires hit.” On lap 122, he powered back from fifth to fourth position and battled Ron Hornaday for the third position. Holding his own through a tight race truck in the final laps, Sauter showed his on-track prowess at Phoenix by motoring the No. 13 home in fourth position at the checkers.
The strong finish not only gives Sauter his first top 5 of the season (after Daytona’s 17th finishing spot) for the SafeAuto Racing member, but also lands him in the fourth position in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver points going into Darlington on March 12. “To get that fourth place finish, we really worked as a team,” stated Sauter. The veteran racer is looking forward to carrying the teams momentum to South Carolina.