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Johnny Sauter at The Have Fun, Help Penn Race Stage

The 2016 Truck Series champion still tries to race as much as possible

Will Bellamy | Racing America

It wouldn’t be the launch of a new American Speed Association without a Sauter in the field, right?

While a non-points event for both the Champion Racing Association and Southern Super Series, Speedfest is the first race under the new combined American Speed Association banner in advance of the ASA STARS debut in March at Five Flags Speedway and Johnny Sauter is amongst the roster.

Combined, the Sauter family had 25 victories in the old ASA National Tour with both Johnny and Tim claiming championships in 2001 and 1999 respectively. Johnny has 10 wins, Jim and Tim had seven wins and Jay claimed one.

So, could that legacy continue with Johnny returning to race ASA STARS this season?

“I don’t know,” Sauter said. “It just looks expensive to me. I would love to, you know what I’m saying but you got to pay for it. I admit that it looks interesting and fun, but it also looks expensive.”

That’s to say nothing of his 12-year-old son, Penn, looking to follow in that same legacy as he begins racing in Legend car competition.

How is that going by the way?

“I think he’s doing good,” Sauter said. “I mean, you know, I’m still old school, right. So, we’re going to do it the way that I was taught to do it. He’s going to have to work on the stuff and, and you know, he’s going to have to learn about it.

“You know what I mean?

“I’m not just going to sit there and say, ‘let’s go race and you just show up with your homework bag.’ So, that’s the way we’re doing it and it is what it is. You know, we are at the end of the day, it’s all about having fun and we are having fun.”

Sauter has said on multiple occasions that he wants to be present for his four kids in the way his dad, Jim Sr., wasn’t able to be in having to provide for 12 children. He wants Penn to ‘want it and find a way’ like his father always encouraged him to do it, but also recognizing that it’s a different racing world now too.

So there’s also a benefit for Johnny, even at 45, to be familiar with these kinds of cars if Penn can make it happen.

Sauter will never be a full-time racer again, and certainly not in NASCAR, but if a limited run Late Model schedule like he’s on right now continues to make sense, he’ll do it.

And right now, this winter, he’s doing it down south with Richie Wauters and Ricky Lemmen. They raced together at New Smyrna in the Red Eye 50, finishing second, after making their debut together at Cordele in the Georgia Spring Nationals last year.

It’s gone well so far.

“I think we’re decent,” Sauter said. “Long run stuff, you know. We got a late start to the weekend because we were snowed in leaving Milwaukee. We didn’t get on the track until 3:30 yesterday. But I think we’re close.”

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Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He is also the associate motorsports editor of Autoweek Magazine and its website, which allows him to cover the highest levels of the sport.

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