Hello again, loyal HotLappers! First off, I want to apologize to you, the loyal reader, for the past few weeks not going up. I had some unavoidable situations come up that got me a bit behind, but I should be back on a regular schedule now and 10 Questions will be back up once a week the rest of the racing season. This week’s interview is with Martinsville’s Truck Series winner, Johnny Sauter. Enjoy the interview and for more interviews and NASCAR related opinions, go to http://www.stuckeymotorsports.com/checkersorwreckers !
1.) How did you get your start in racing?
I got my start in Wisconsin, where I grew up with my 10 brothers and sisters. My dad, Jim, raced, and you could race there (back then) 3-4 nights a week somewhere. Other kids liked to hunt and fish…I just wanted to be in my dad’s shop tinkering with the cars. So at an early age, I knew I wanted to race.
2.) Is there any additional pressure on you being a second-generation driver whose father was a NASCAR veteran along with two of your brothers?
No, there really isn’t and never was. My family has supported me from day one, and there was no competition. My dad always said you’ve got to be yourself, nobody else, and I think I’ve proven that to a lot of people over the years. I’ve never really felt it from the media either – I think that’s the benefit of coming out of Wisconsin. It’s like cutting your teeth – you have some credibility after racing there (and racing so much). There is a big bunch of us now.
3.) Was there ever a point in your NASCAR career that you doubted yourself?
Every day. If a driver ever says they are happy and content with themselves, they are probably lying. Even the most winning, most funded driver lies in bed at night staring at the ceiling, saying, “Am I good enough?” It’s part of the business, and it’s part of being an athlete in sports. Our job is to be competitive and be driven, and if we fall off a little or get lazy, our jobs are gone. So it’s a mental game, and I’ve had tons of those moments in my career. So every day.
4.) You’ve acquired a reputation as a tenacious driver on the track. Is being aggressive something of a necessity in NASCAR?
Absolutely, especially in the Camping World Truck Series this year. Everyone likes to think I’m aggressive, but honestly, I’m racing hard. The guys know it, and most of them respect it. It’s what my roots are all about, that short track heritage. Beating and banging. I wouldn’t do anything to another driver that I don’t expect them to do right back to me – I want a guy racing me back hard. It’s the sport.
5.) What has to be your most thrilling win to date & why?
Honestly, every single one. They are all thrilling moments and the result of a lot of hard work. This might surprise some people, but my most nostalgic win was the Dixieland 150 in ASA Late Models. I race 3-4 late model races a year for fun – build my own car in my garage. I grew up in those stands in Wisconsin, watching my dad race every weekend. It’s such a special place for me. So winning there is like “proving yourself” to the hometown crowd. That meant more to me, in a lot of ways, than my NASCAR wins.
6.) Exactly what kind of chemistry do you have with your team-mate Matt Crafton as far as being able to share info and such?
I have great chemistry with Crafton – we’re like brothers. If you see us at the track, we’re usually playing practical jokes on each other or joking around. We had an interview with this local TV station in Darlington where the guy asked us to interview each other, and he was crying laughing so hard. He couldn’t keep it together and said, “I never knew you guys were this funny.” I guess we just look so serious at the track. Yes, we’ll help each other out at the track all the time and talk lines and strategy. Once the helmets go on, we’re competitors…but we’re great teammates. He’s the best teammate I’ve ever had and the one I’d consider the closest.
7.) What’s your favorite track to race at and why?
By far, Dover. I can’t wait to get back to that place, it’s wide open all the time. My favorite kind of racing, and I’ve come so close there (as close as last year) to getting that Monster Mile trophy. I want one so bad. It’s again, that beating and banging racing that I really like to race, and it’s a “driver track.” At the end of the race, it’s up to you and your communication on where you stand on the grid.
8.) Going back to the last lap at Martinsville and Richmond in 2003, if you had to apply the chrome horn again to win the race, would you do so & why?
It’s all based on the situation. Go back to one of my earlier answers – I don’t push guys out of the way to play with them. And if you’ve seen my racing this year, I’m really going for a championship for ThorSport Racing. We can do this. So it’s part maturity, part taking care of the equipment, part wanting to win. Now, I’ve said before it’s about the “three lap rule,” depending on the track – a guy’s got about three laps to figure out if he’s going to get out of the way, try to be a hero, or get moved. That’s most of us, not just me.
9.) How big was this win at Martinsville for you and your team?
Huge. Amazing. It was big for my guys, who have worked so hard. For me, what a weekend. I win Martinsville, get my clock home and have to take the chimes out so as not to wake the kids – my wife had a baby that Monday (our daughter Paige). I was so proud of everyone – team, my wife Cortney, my family, everyone. I was on top of the world. Still am. I am blessed.
10.) What are your goals for the rest of the year with ThorSport and beyond?