Johnny Sauter, driver of the No. 13 Safe Auto/Curb Records/Carrier Chevrolet Silverado, started the Fast Five 225 at Chicagoland Speedway in 13th position after extended practice changes. The veteran wheelman showed he's a man to loves a challenge - running heavily in fifth to seventh position much of the race, leading laps and earning the honor of Featherlite "Most Improved Driver Award." Emerging from Chicagoland third in points, team 13 is ahead of the game - going into New Hampshire Motor Speedway just six points behind leader James Buescher - better than the points differential going into Chicago.
"We aren't new to pressure, and we were working on a lot of things in practice on a new chassis. Qualifying is qualifying - there are long nights of racing that dictate that leaderboard, so we knew we'd be under loose conditions like everyone else. My truck seemed to be super loose from the get go, to the point of wanting to launch into the fence - so we're pretty proud of the teamwork, pit box calls and saves during the race."
As early as lap three, Sauter radioed to the box that he was "extremely, extremely loose - when I drive in the corner, it wants to take off." Keeping calm as grips changed in the cool weather in Chicago, he maintained the 11th position through two cautions for the first pit stop of the night. Working on air pressure, tire, fuel and tightening up the truck, he emerged in eighth place and ran down the fifth position as he took the wavearound on lap 74. Making not one but many impressive moves on the night, Sauter took four positions in one move as a four-wide play pushed him to fifth after the caution.
Employing smart pit strategy, Crew Chief Joe Shear, Jr called for two right side tires and a "splash and go" gas round - keeping Sauter in sixth position for the finish just eight laps later. The cool heads that prevailed amidst other teams with major track woes earned the team a solid finish moving towards Homestead.
"This is when the calls really count, and I have full trust in Joe. We're all a team, and again, this is when the rubber hits the road - when we have six to go and a five point spread between the top three guys. It's the kind of racing I like, with lots of pressure and challenging tracks. I'm looking forward to New Hampshire and getting back into the chassis that won at Martinsville earlier this year. We can win when we put our heads together, and that can add up to a championship run."
He sits in third place in the the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver championship points lead, a mere six points behind James Buescher and three points behind second place Austin Dillon, going into New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 24th.
Thorsport Racing PR