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Johnny Sauter Racing for Fun and with Family in 2022

The 2016 Truck Series champion plans to make a lot more Late Model appearances.

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It’s a No. 5 but it’s not the iconic Sauter No. 5 that Johnny is accustomed to racing in Super Late Model events across the Midwest.

Instead, the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion has entered the Georgia Spring Nationals with Richie Wauters Motorsports on Saturday night. Wauters needed a driver and Sauter was available.

"I'm building a brand-new car right now," Sauter said. "I just built that car last year and I didn't really want to sell it, but you have to do what you have to do sometimes

"So, we're thrashing on a new car right now, and I hope to have it ready at the Joe Shear Classic in the first part of May at Madison. My plan right now is to run my own stuff and do some Bandolero racing with my kid."

This is the start of a new chapter for Sauter, who is now part time in the Truck Series this year with ThorSport and G2G Racing after two decades of full-time racing at the three highest levels. Sauter says he isn’t pursuing anymore full-time opportunities so he can be a full-time dad and part-time racer.

"I just don't see that happening," Sauter said of another Truck Series championship run. "I have four kids and I just don't know about that ..."

It's a lot.

"It is," Sauter said. "I don't know if it's just getting older, but things change, and priorities change and that's the way it goes."

In addition to his championship, Sauter has 24 wins at the Truck Series level in 312 starts. He has three Xfinity Series wins in 207 starts and an eighth-place championship finish in 2003. He's even made 85 Cup Series starts.

At 43-years-old, it's just time to shift and find new ways to compete, while enjoying life.

"I just want to have an opportunity to win," Sauter said. "I'm still competitive. Don't get me wrong: I'm not just going to the race track. If I don't think I can win, I'm not going to do it.

"But things change, and your approach has to change. When you're a creature of habit, sometimes you don't want to change those things, you know?

"Having said that, I think I just want to have as much fun trying to go win a handful of Truck races and winning some Late Model stuff at home, while being a dad racing with my kid. That's what I'm about these days."

That’s what Sauter is about and that’s what he has an opportunity to do on Saturday night with Wauters. He has raced well at Cordele in previous starts at the Georgia bullring and compared it to Dells Raceway Park back home in Wisconsin.

He hasn’t raced here since Speedfest 2014, however, a race where he tangled with Chase Elliott while racing for the lead. Elliott had to use the bumper to get around him en route to the win.

"I had that one coming," Sauter said with a laugh.

That's not how he felt immediately afterwards. He door slammed Elliott under caution and immediately parked behind the wall.

Sauter laughed again.

"Well, I had it coming, and I told him that after the race too," Sauter said. "We were racing for the win and that's what it's about. He had a better car and I was holding him up. He had to go.

"I really enjoy this place though. You can really charge the corner and get away with it. I've always had a tendency to drive that way, and with the brake pedals, it fits my style. Maybe tonight will prove me wrong but it's a racey track and there are a lot of different ways you can approach it."