NASCAR Media Conference
April 19, 2011
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. And welcome to the NASCAR CAM video teleconference in advance of Friday's Bully Hill Vineyards 200 at Nashville Super Speedway. Joining us now is Johnny Sauter, driver of the No. 13 Safe Auto/Curb Records Chevrolet for ThorSport Racing. Heads to Nashville first NASCAR Camping Truck World Series standings leading teammate, Matt Crafton, by five points.
You already have a win this month at Martinsville; what's it going to take for you to get another one on the concrete at Nashville?
JOHNNY SAUTER: Well, I mean, it takes everything. Obviously the driver can't make any mistakes. The truck has got to obviously handle well, pit stops got to be good, good pit strategy, everything involved.
Like you said we won a few weeks ago in Martinsville and Nashville has been a great racetrack for me in the past. I've come close there in the Nationwide Series a couple of times to winning. So always enjoy going there, good atmosphere, and it's one of my favorite racetracks, so hopefully we can go there and pull it off.
Q. Looking forward to Kansas in a few weeks, replay that harrowing finish for us on your two wheels. Can you just talk about it -- I'm sure you've seen it a couple dozen times since then.
JOHNNY SAUTER: Yeah, for sure. Obviously I've got a lot of family and friends and relatives and people that come to Kansas, so I always put a lot of pressure on myself to go there and perform.
But last year was no different, and we had a really fast truck. And it was getting down towards the end of the race, and we thought it was going to be a short run to the finish so we changed air pressures a little bit.
We actually got the truck just a little too tight, and I kept watching Hornaday get closer and closer in the mirror, and I knew it was just a matter of time before he made a run at me. And we encountered some lap traffic, I think it was around ten, 11 laps to go. Ron got there and got inside of me and got a little bit loose and got into the side of us, and next thing I knew we were both sliding sideways towards the fence.
So at that point you just kind of are hanging on and stabbing and steering as we call it; and Ron saved his truck, I saved my truck. And I thought, okay, now I have to try to hold on for ten more laps.
But that was an incredible finish for sure.
Q. What did that do for you? It seemed like it vaulted you into the Top-10, and then I don't remember if you won any more races after that last year, but boy, you had a lot of seconds and thirds and finished third in the series. What did that win do for you and the rest of your season, and maybe even your career?
JOHNNY SAUTER: Yeah, I mean, let's face it, confidence is everything. When you can pull into a racetrack and have a solid weekend and win a race, that just makes you feel like you can go to the next one and you can win. You know the old saying: Winning fixes everything and it's contagious.
You know, for sure, that put us back on the map as far as the points run last season. And so then, you know, you mentioned that we finished second, I don't know five or six times towards the end of the season.
You know, there's just so many things we look back on last season, and said, ok, we finished second here, what do we need to do different. I think we have addressed a lot of those issues over the off-season, and worked on our truck, and here we are kind of picking up where we left off last year. I don't know, I've got a lot of high expectations for the rest of this season.
Q. You mentioned lots of friends and family; Wisconsin, is it coming from there, or do you have other friends and family close by?
JOHNNY SAUTER: I've got family pretty much all over. But South Dakota, Minnesota, a couple in Iowa, and obviously family from Wisconsin. So pretty much the whole surrounding area.
Q. Racing is part of your family, isn't it? Can you talk about your brothers and your dad, the special place you guys have carved in auto racing?
JOHNNY SAUTER: Yeah, obviously like you said, grew up in a racing family and grew up in a small town of like 850 people up in central Wisconsin. So my dad raced. We didn't hunt; we didn't fish. It was pretty much all I've ever known; and you get home from school and you go in the shop and work on race cars. So just fortunate enough to get an education in my profession at a young age.
So, you know, just got a couple older brothers that race and I used to go to the racetrack with those guys all the time. So pretty much when I got to the age of 15, 16 years old, I pretty much knew what I wanted to do. I feel I got a big head start, but my dad was a believer that he didn't want me in a race car until I was 18.
So I got kind of a late start, but as far as the knowledge part of it and the background part it, I feel like I was way ahead of the curve.
Q. Can you take any momentum from Martinsville? Or has too much gone on in your life since then that it seems like it was a year ago already?
JOHNNY SAUTER: (Chuckling) well, you hit the nail on the head when you said that a lot has happened in my life since then.
But it's been a couple weeks, and that was a huge win; to go into a place like Martinsville and to win there, I mean, that's such a tough place to win. Everything has to go right.
I definitely think you carry momentum. I'm starting to see the fruits of all the guys' labor over the off-season. I mean, there was a lot of nights they worked burning the midnight oil, just trying to get to where we were at.
I definitely see us being able to go to Nashville, go in there and give our Safe Auto/Curb Records Chevy a run. Just a good racetrack, good atmosphere there and a lot going on this weekend there with my Curbs 500 start (ph). Like I said before, we have almost won there a couple of times in the Nationwide Series and I feel pretty good about what we have got going there this weekend as far as our truck and our whole package. Everything seems to being solid. I think we can win.
Q. Have you taken just the last couple of weeks off, or have you talked team very much?
JOHNNY SAUTER: Yeah, I actually went to Sandusky Ohio where the team is located last week and spent three days up there hanging out with the guys. And they were actually in town here in North Carolina last night; they were at the wind tunnel, so I was over there with those guys.
And just I'm very, very aware of what we are doing as far as, you know, just trucks and setup and things like that. And I feel pretty good about where we are at. But you know, once racing is in your blood, it's hard to get rid of it.
Q. Congratulations on the newest addition to your family. You're the only contender on the Truck Series and Nationwide Series in 2011. What are your thoughts on that and do you enjoy driving with pick the Cup drivers?
JOHNNY SAUTER: Yeah, I mean, the Cup guys coming into the series doesn't bother me. Obviously I think it brings a lot more attention to the Truck Series with having the Cup guys there.
So you can sit there and make a case for all of the pros and all of the cons, but I'm a firm believer that the second you get caught up in that stuff, you're not focused on your own program. I don't think last fall -- you know, we went to Texas and Homestead and a lot of those places, and we had trucks capable of outrunning Kyle and Kevin; I guess if you're referring to the Cup guys or whatever.
But at Texas we actually passed Kyle for the lead and led for a while, and just had a couple of bumps on pit road there that we tried to overcome. We ended up finishing second to them. And at Homestead, we passed for the lead a couple of times and again had a couple more hurdles on pit road that we had to overcome.
Like I talked about before, the things we work on over the off-season, pit stops and obviously our trucks and all of that, I feel like we are in contention to be able to beat those guys. If we can just stick with them on pit road, we can outrun them. And that's what we have been doing in Martinsville and we have been doing it all year this year.
So I feel like we can beat them week-in and week-out, and if we beat those guys, obviously we have beat the best, and that's a huge accomplishment for ThorSport Racing.
Q. So what are your thoughts on being the only points contender to win in 2011? We have seen a lot of -- in the Nationwide Series, all Cup drivers have won every race thus far, and you are the only driver in the Camping World Truck Series to win that's a regular.
JOHNNY SAUTER: I think that speaks volumes of our program. I mean, you know, it's not just me and it's the whole package. Let's face it: Those guys come down and they are almost expected to win. So when we beat them, I think it gets a lot of attention.
But I guess to answer your question, I'm not surprised that we beat them and I won't be surprised if we beat them again. You know, we are working just as hard as anybody else.
So I just, you know, to be the only guy sitting here right now that's won a race this year, it's still early in the season. You know, if it was in the middle of summer or three quarters of the way through the season, I might think it's a maybe a little bit bigger of a deal. It's still earl yet.
And I'm not going to sit here and tell you that it's not -- that I don't feel like it's a huge accomplishment having beat those guys; but it doesn't surprise me at the same time.
Q. Following up on that, you've had your moments in the Cup Series and in the Nationwide Series; is the Truck Series -- have you reached your comfort level? Is this where you see yourself at age 33 almost? Just how do you see things panning out?
JOHNNY SAUTER: Well, you know, it's not so much being comfortable I guess. I mean, I'm never comfortable. So no matter how well you're running or how good things are going, I feel like you've always kind of just got to keep your nose to the grindstone so to speak.
I'm having a good time in the Truck Series. And obviously like you said, I've been in Cup and I've been in Nationwide and had success there, but it's just so tough and so competitive at the Cup level. And you know, only nine or ten guys win throughout the course of a season; so it's tough to win there.
But reflecting on the Truck Series, I'm having a good time because I know I can go to the racetrack week-in and week-out, and compete for wins and do what we are doing right now. You know, if you don't win, you finish fifth or eighth or whatever, but it's still enough to, you know, give you your fix and know that you're going to the racetrack and being competitive; that's all you can ask for.
Q. I know y'all had a baby. Bring me up to speed. What do you have?
JOHNNY SAUTER: Baby No. 2, a little girl. We named her Paige Sauter. She was about seven pounds, four and a half ounces and she's healthy and my wife is healthy and everybody is happy, so now I've got a boy and a girl.
Q. Paige, P-a-i-g-e?
JOHNNY SAUTER: You got it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you and congratulations on the birth of Paige. Her big brother is probably really happy about that. Thank you to the media for joining us, and we appreciate your time and your coverage. Good luck this weekend, Johnny.
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