Sauter Claims First NASCAR Title in Inaugural Trucks Chase

The last name of Sauter is synonymous with racing and has been for decades. But on Friday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Johnny put the family name in the history books, as he earned his first career NASCAR National Series championship.

In the inaugural season of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase, Sauter emerged with a third-place finish in the Ford EcoBoost 200, which was good enough to clinch the title.

William Byron grabbed his series-high seventh checkered flag by winning the race, a new rookie record in the NCWTS. He was eliminated from title contention last week.

“It’s not just me, it’s the whole team – everyone at GMS Racing,” Sauter, 38, said in victory lane to Fox Sports 1. “We had flawless execution on pit road tonight and Joe (Shear Jr., crew chief) made some great adjustments so I could hang on.”

“Five years ago tonight, my dad was here when we won the race and this is for him and Joe Jr.’s dad. It’s just an awesome night and I’m proud to be a champion.”

His counterparts running for the trophy, Matt Crafton, Christopher Bell and Timothy Peters, finished in seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively.

Sauter has been in the series for almost a decade, but had yet to win that elusive championship. The team he previously called home was Red Horse Racing (Peters’ team).

But it’s not like he wasn’t contending there. He won multiple races per season and consistently ran inside the top five and finished high in the standings (second in 2011). But this offseason, he decided to move to GMS Racing to pilot the No. 21 truck. Ultimately, it paid off, as he now is a NASCAR champion.

“There’s just a lot of little things,” Sauter said of GMS Racing in his post-race media availability. “I could sit here all night and talk about it. It’s just the whole package. I just felt very comfortable about meeting the Gallagher family. I’m not sitting up here blowing smoke, I’m telling you the truth. I felt very comfortable that night and knew that this was something I wanted to be a part of. It’s all about putting the pieces of the puzzle together.”