By: Mitchell Breuer
Johnny Sauter had himself a strong start to the 2020 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season. The driver of the No. 13 drove his way to two top-five qualifying efforts and two top-10’s in the opening pair of events. All of this resulted in the veteran placing himself second in the points standings and an early cushion over the playoff cutoff.
Then the season got suspended, nulling the early season progress.
Now, just like the rest of the series, Sauter looks into a very uncertain future with races unlike anything we’ve seen before. Races that will not see practice, qualifying, or fans in the stand.
The good news for Sauter? Experience is on his side. The 42-year-old is not only one of the most experienced drivers in the field, heis also aligned with the team with some of the most experience in ThorSport Racing.
“Oh, absolutely it (experience) is an advantage. I’m not just saying this to say it or whatever, but I think when you look at the driver lineup at ThorSport, across the board, it’s a pretty damn good group of drivers,” Sauter told POPULAR SPEED. “It’s a good group, obviously Ben (Rhodes) is a little younger, but he’s got some good experience under his belt and obviously Grant (Enfinger)’s been racing for a long time, and then you’ve got (Matt) Crafton and I. A lot of experience there for sure.”
While his team has the experience, one of Sauter’s concerns heading into the upcoming race at Charlotte Motor Speedway is the drivers that don’t.
“The thing that I look at is some of these younger guys go on these racetracks, having never even raced or turned a lap and getting them into trouble,” Sauter said.“I think for me the biggest question mark was just getting caught on somebody else’s mess, for the lack of track time, but I understand why it is the way that it is. It’s safe for everybody, but I’m glad I’m better and I get to experience what happens at this point.”
The concern is a valid one, as a majority of the field that has run both races so far this season are drivers either new to the truck series or have limited experience compared to Sauter’s 268 starts.
Despite this and the delays though, Sauter says he feels “awesome” heading back into racing and feels confident that his No. 13 team can pick up where they left off in February.
“The sky’s the limit for us. I feel like our stuff is as good, if not better than it’s ever been, for the 13 camp,” Sauter said. “If anything, I’d say we’ve had a little more time to refine, some time to pull down rigs, engineers looking at data, using simulation and things like that. So at the end of the day, I’d say the exclamation point is refining, what we already had and what was in place. Having said that, sometimes you have too much time to get yourself in trouble with the trick of the week.”
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