Sauter Savors Truck Championship

NASCAR

“Well, this championship means a lot, obviously. I just I don't think it's completely sank in quite yet." (Photo: Getty Images)

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Johnny Sauter celebrated his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship Friday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Sauter’s third-place finish in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 200 was good enough for the 38-year-old driver to capture his first title in eight full seasons in the Truck Series.

The GMS Racing driver finished second in the season championship back in 2011 and became the 15th different driver to win a title in 22 years.

Sauter had his best overall season since moving into the series. He won three races, had 12 top-five finishes and capped it off with a solid Chase that ended in the crown. Sauter won back-to-back races at Martinsville and Texas also finishing second at Phoenix last week. Sauter's 13 career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victories tie him for 11th most all-time in series history.

“Well, this championship means a lot, obviously. I just I don't think it's completely sank in quite yet, but you know, it wouldn't be possible without these two guys sitting next to me,” Sauter said of team owner Maury Gallagher and crew chief Joe Shear Jr.

“That's for sure. I can remember last September when I flew to Las Vegas and the Gallagher family brought me to their house and cooked me a wonderful meal and said this is our goals and this is what we want to do. You know, when I went and checked out the shop and saw their ultimate vision for where they wanted GMS Racing to be, I knew it was something that I wanted to be a part of.”

Indeed Sauter joined GMS this year in a move felt to be risky, but it paid off in a title.

“He shows up with the experience, and I call him the old salt, and you just can't put a price on that kind of, I've been there, done that. He was terrific with the younger guys, shared couldn't ask for a better teammate, and it's an investment; you do it, and you hope to have the outcome we had,” Gallagher said.

“You'd like to think that every investment pays off. It's hard in this business, but this one has paid off in spades. Yeah, hats off to Johnny, and he'll be back next year, and you'll be seeing me about a year from now, I hope.”

Sauter and Shear grew up together thanks to their fathers – Jim and Joe, two Midwest racing legends. That relationship was a key part to the duo having success this year.

“Me and Johnny have been together for years and our families have been together for years, and we've raced against each other, and we've won a championship before, and we've just became best friends and worked really hard and been determined,” Shear explained.

“I'm like almost lost for words. This is like really huge and special.”

So after eight years of trying, Sauter’s determination and talent finally paid dividends in a championship.

“Everybody wants to be a champion,” he said. “You want to win races ultimately, and you want to be in the hunt. Like tonight's deal, I think, with the Chase was pretty exciting. There was a point there where we ran, I don't know, 50 laps, and we would have finished fourth in points, and we picked them off one at a time, one at a time, one at a time.

“So it's just cool to grow up in a racing family, go to so many racetracks throughout the Midwest, and to be a champion in one of the top three NASCAR divisions, that's just something that I hope the family can enjoy.”

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Photos

  • Ford EcoBoost 200
  • Ford EcoBoost 200
  • Ford EcoBoost 200
  • Ford EcoBoost 200
  • Ford EcoBoost 200
  • Ford EcoBoost 200
  • Ford EcoBoost 200
  • Ford EcoBoost 200
  • Ford EcoBoost 200
  • Ford EcoBoost 200
  • Ford EcoBoost 200
  • Ford EcoBoost 200
  • Ford EcoBoost 200
  • Lucas Oil 150
  • Lucas Oil 150
  • Lucas Oil 150
  • Lucas Oil 150
  • Lucas Oil 150
  • Lucas Oil 150
  • Lucas Oil 150
  • JAG Metals 350
  • JAG Metals 350
  • JAG Metals 350
  • JAG Metals 350
  • JAG Metals 350
  • JAG Metals 350
  • JAG Metals 350
  • JAG Metals 350
  • JAG Metals 350
  • JAG Metals 350
  • JAG Metals 350
  • Texas Roadhouse 200
  • Texas Roadhouse 200
  • Texas Roadhouse 200
  • Texas Roadhouse 200
  • Texas Roadhouse 200
  • Texas Roadhouse 200
  • Texas Roadhouse 200
  • Texas Roadhouse 200
  • Texas Roadhouse 200
  • Texas Roadhouse 200
  • Texas Roadhouse 200
  • Fred's 250
  • Fred's 250
  • Fred's 250
  • Fred's 250
  • Fred's 250
  • Fred's 250
  • Fred's 250
  • Fred's 250
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