A year ago, Johnny Sauter finished third in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship chase. He’s aiming even higher this time around, with a new sponsor to assist in the effort. Safe Auto Insurance will join longtime backer Curb Records on Sauter’s #13 Chevrolet.
“I know what this team is capable of, and I really think we should win four or five races in 2011,” said Sauter. “If we do that, then we’re going to go to Homestead with a chance to win the championship.” To that end, ThorSport made a change under the hood for 2011, turning to ECR horsepower for the first time. “It’s not like we were underpowered last season,” said Sauter, “but I’m excited about having ECR engines this year.”
After coming so close to the Truck Series title a year ago, Sauter said it’s difficult to identify and implement major improvements in the team. “We had some problems on pit road, and we’ve addressed that over the off-season; (bringing) in some new guys and working hard, practicing every day. We’ve also built some new trucks and we’ve updated the ones we had that ran so well the past two years.”
Sauter made single trips to Victory Lane in each of his first two seasons driving for ThorSport, with wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2009 and Kansas Speedway in 2010. He makes no bones about believing that he and his team should notch multiple wins this season.
“Winning once at this level is an extremely difficult thing to do,” he said. “So on one hand, we’re really proud to win in each of the last two seasons. But once you win, you know you can do it and you want more. It’s a hunger that feeds off itself.”
He joked that a better start than he had in 2010 will help. In last year’s season-opener at Daytona, Sauter qualified a solid eighth, but made it only to Turn Two of the opening lap before being swept up in a crash and sidelined from the event. “I barely even had my seat belts tightened before it was over,” he recalled, “and it put us in a big hole. We were eventually able to climb out of it, but I would really like to have a better start to the season this time around.”