Charlotte Motor Speedway Race Report 5.18.18

JOHNNY SAUTER
No. 21 ISM Connect Chevrolet Silverado

 

Start:1st
Finish:1st
Points:1st (+59)

 

Stage One: After starting Friday night’s NC Education Lottery 200 from the pole, Sauter settled into the second position for the first 22 laps, reporting the ISM Chevrolet needed more front compliance. As most of the leaders pitted under the first caution of the night, Sauter remained on track to take over the lead but couldn’t maintain the position when the field returned to green. Sauter was overtaken by trucks with newer tires with just four laps remaining in Stage One. When the green and white checkered was waved at the stage end, Sauter pitted from the third position for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. As half of the field had pitted earlier, Sauter lined up 15th for the restart in the No. 21.  

 

Stage Two:Working his way back into the top-10 just 15 laps into the second stage, Sauter continued to move forward in the ISM Connect Chevy. Sauter took over the fifth position coming to the stage break and pitted for four tires, fuel and another air pressure adjustment after reporting the No. 21 was just a little tight but the handling had improved after the first pit stop. The No. 21 pit crew’s quick work gained Sauter an additional three spots on pit road to line him up second for the start of the Final Stage.

 

Final Stage:After a battle for the lead, Sauter took over the top position on lap 72, holding that position until caution occurred on lap 82. Coming to pit road for four tires, fuel and another air pressure adjustment to set up a run until the end of the race, Sauter restarted sixth behind trucks that did not pit or took fuel only. When the field returned to green it took just two laps for Sauter to regain the lead. He led for the remaining 48 laps en route to his third win of the 2018 season and first win at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

 

Additional Notes:

– Sauter’s win at Charlotte is his first win at the 1.5-mile track in Concord, N.C. and 20th career NCWTS win. The first 10 wins of Sauter’s career came between 2009 and 2014, with the most recent 10 wins being earned since joining GMS in 2016.

– Sauter now has 20 consecutive top-10 finishes at 1.5-mile tracks.

– Following the seventh race of the season, Sauter holds a 59-point lead over Noah Gragson in the NCWTS driver point standings.

 

Quote:

Johnny Sauter, driver of the No. 21 ISM Connect Chevrolet 

“Today we had a good truck in practice, but obviously the adjustments Joe (Shear, crew chief) and the guys made before the race just really brought it to life that extra little bit. It doesn’t take a lot here. This is probably…this IS the biggest win of my career. This is a challenging place. I’ve had a lot of good runs here and a lot of bad runs here, so this is a big one. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t want to win in our backyard. I’m just really proud of these guys tonight.”

 

On 2018 success: 

“For me obviously being with an organization for a third year, I’m just really comfortable with what we’ve got going on. GMS is growing as an organization every year and we just keep getting better stuff out of our fab shop. This is a big deal for GMS Fabrication and all the guys. We do all of our own bodies, our own chassis, everything in house. This is a testament to over 100 peoples’ hard work all run by Mr. Beam. I’m just the lucky guy that gets to drive it.” 

On having 17 Playoff Points after seven races:

“I think we saw last year just how important playoff points are. It’ll afford you to have a bad day in the playoffs. I think it’s a big deal but at this point winning is fun. I don’t even think about the bonus points to be honest with you. The biggest thing for me is early success is great, it gives you a little pep in your step, but we have to keep our nose to the grindstone and I know these guys are racers so they’re going to keep working hard.”

Mike Beam, GMS Racing President

“Joe and Johnny make such a good team and we’re blessed to have them. These guys come to race every week and that’s what we hired them to do. It’s just so much fun to watch. We might get beat but they come back the next week and they’re ready to go. We’re at a place right now where Joe and Johnny are comfortable and they can race here for a long time as long as they win. We don’t worry about them winning. We trust each other. We’ve got a really good team behind the two of them which makes it easier for us because they’re going to bring their best game each week. I’m just really proud of everyone at GMS and GMS Fabrication.”