|Johnny Sauter applies his winner's sticker|
|Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images|
THE MODERATOR: We are now being joined by the race winners of tonight's NextEra Resources 250. We have up here the driver of the No. 21 Smoky Mountain Herbal Snuff Chevrolet, Johnny Sauter. Johnny, this is your 11th career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory. It's also a pretty good race debut here with GMS Racing and Marcus Richmond as your crew chief with the win, and also this is the first truck win for Chevrolet at Daytona. Why don't you go ahead and talk about all that and that finish there.
JOHNNY SAUTER: Well, that's a lot to talk about, I guess. First of all, I can't thank Maurice Gallagher here enough for giving me the call to come and do this thing and Mike Beam and everybody at GMS Racing. They were telling me how good this stuff was going to be all winter long, and I know how crew chiefs are; they tend to embellish things every once in a while. But Marcus was right. I knew yesterday this thing – this Smoky Mountain Herbal Snuff Chevrolet had speed, but just because you have speed doesn't necessarily mean, and I kept preaching, we've got to be there at the end of this thing to have a shot.
Tonight was crazy. We had great track position to start the night, and you know, we were trying to pit there before the caution clock came out, and the caution ended up coming out and we were pinned, so we had to go to the tail end of the longest line. Lost all of our track position and put that thing up on the outside there with that ECR horsepower and I'd be surprised and just started driving by everybody.
Couldn't be prouder of everybody and all their effort. I'm just a small part of what happened tonight. But tonight was unbelievable. That last restart was very hairy to say the least. I thought I was in big trouble there. We lost momentum initially when we got into Turn 1, and I thought, well, we're going to end up finishing fifth or sixth here, and next thing I know the 4 truck came barreling back and pushing and pushing and hitting and banging and sideways, and the thing picked up like 500 rpms instantly, and here we came. Those guys didn't even have a chance to block, we had so much momentum and so much speed coming at them, and I hope he's okay. I heard they took him to the hospital. So got to thank him for pushing me first of all, and then I hope he's okay.
But just couldn't be more proud of this effort. This is an opportunity that I don't think I could put into words what this opportunity really means for me, and to get Chevrolet their first win in the Truck Series in 17 tries down here, that's extra special for me, growing up in a GM family. Couldn't be more proud of everybody.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by the race-winning crew chief, Marcus Richmond. Marcus, why don't you go ahead and talk a little bit about that win and your first time on the box here for Johnny.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]MARCUS RICHMOND: Yeah, when Mike Beam gave me the call to ask me if I want to come crew chief Johnny Sauter and GMS Racing I knew this was the right move for me. These guys here, they give you every tool to go win races, and Johnny is a good enough driver to go win every race. This is just an awesome opportunity. Everybody at GMS have put in a lot of hours building new trucks. We're working together, all my guys on the 21 team, and the 33 team, and the 23 teams, we all work together. We've just got one goal, and that's to get GMS in victory lane.
This is just so surreal. I never thought winning Daytona is this awesome. But I can't put it into words. But again, just want to thank Maury and Mike and Ron and everybody that put this thing together and gives us all this opportunity to go do what we love.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by our winning truck owner, Maurice Gallagher. Can you talk about bringing Johnny on board and what it felt like to win the first race with him?
MAURICE GALLAGHER: Well, winning the first race, winning at Daytona, I'm fairly young to this business in spite of my age, and it's something. I didn't know a lot about the race car and there's a whole back story I won't bore you with, but now that we're involved and we're doing things with people like Johnny and Marcus and Mike Beam, my task to them was let's get out in front and let's go to victory lane. Winning is what this business is all about. That's professional sports.
And you have the right resources, it's got to be done properly, but good people, good product, good teamwork, you'll get it done.
Last year when we were talking about the next step up for us, you know, we thought that we needed a really experienced, high-quality guy that could bring some wins to the shop. Other drivers that we had were good, but Johnny's pedigree speaks for itself. First race, didn't get the pole, I mean, I'll have to talk to him about that, but he brought home the victory.
Yeah, he's a great addition.
Johnny, if you can just put into perspective a little bit more on what it's like to win at Daytona in your first race out of the box with the new team.
JOHNNY SAUTER: Well, I honestly believed that we could win. I really felt that way. The first time I went to the race shop down in Statesville there, it's unbelievable. I mean, all the resources that are at our disposal, in-house chassis shop with Leavitt and in-house body stuff with Bo and all the guys at the shop, you know, that's kind of a rare commodity in the Truck Series. You just don't see that. Just all the people at the shop, everybody is positive and pumped up. You know, they welcomed me with open arms, and when you see that, it makes you feel really good about the decision to do this.
I honestly can't say that I'm surprised that we're here. I mean, I felt like after practice yesterday that we had as good a truck as anybody. I knew we had raw speed. It's one thing – and we proved it tonight. I've always had trucks that maybe didn't qualify that great down here, but we were able to win once before. But when a truck runs fast by itself, it really runs fast in the draft, too, so I did learn that tonight.
But like I said before, I'm a small part of that, but just – this is an unbelievable opportunity, and you know, to get my second win at Daytona is just – to get our second win at Daytona is just unbelievable. This is a hard race to win. A lot of things have to go right, strategy, just right place, right time. I'm just proud. This is awesome.
Marcus and Johnny, first impressions of the caution clock at Daytona, which is a little bit different than the rest of the schedule, but also what you guys think you'll see teams do at Atlanta and beyond when that clock starts to run down.
MARCUS RICHMOND: We talked about it. We had a team meeting between our other two teammates, and we knew we had to be aggressive if we wanted to stay out front, and usually you can stay out of wrecks by being out front. We kind of made a decision we was going to make the call, whoever the team that was leading the other two was going to make the call, and I made the call to hit pit road, and I really hate it for Spencer, him getting run over by the 18 truck. I knew it was going to be chaos, and I really thought about making the call of pitting the lap before that so we wouldn't be in all that.
I really think it's going to – I wish they could close pit road a couple, three minutes before the caution clock comes out so we don't have this problem every week at these other racetracks, Texas, Michigan. It'll make it so much nicer.
I know we want to make it interesting for the fans, but we don't want to have tore-up race trucks like we did tonight on a pit stop.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"] JOHNNY SAUTER: Yeah, and I'll be honest with you, that was one thing that was weighing pretty heavy on me last night when I went to bed, just replaying the races through in my mind and I was actually laying in my hotel room watching the 2014 truck race from Daytona and last year's race, and just seeing what was working and what wasn't working, but the one big variable that kept sticking out in my head was this caution clock could really throw a wrench into everything, and as you saw, everybody was trying to get to pit road and beat the caution.
I don't know that we'll be able to necessarily do that next week just because if you pit, you're probably going to – you have to take tires in Atlanta, and you're going to end up being trapped a lap down. I'll let him decide what we do next week, I'll just do what he tells me, but I don't know, there's definitely some races that it's going to probably change the outcome of what we think could happen.
Can you describe the mindset of racing around rather new drivers, you had Grant Enfinger, a lot of younger drivers. You were still racing really aggressively.
JOHNNY SAUTER: Well, the first thing I do when I get to Daytona every year is walk through the garage and look at every truck, not necessarily that I'm looking for anything, but you are looking for drivers' names in the back window, obviously different paint jobs, like myself, moving to a different team. You just try to be mindful of all that.
But when they drop the green flag, all bets are off anyway. You're going to work with whoever is with you. Grant Enfinger as my teammate, he did a phenomenal job tonight. I hate that we got shuffled the way we did on the backstretch there. I think he had the lift, and I just had to fill the hole.
But he was awesome. In fact, if things would have played out going to the end of the race, I was going to push him to the win. I thought that would have been pretty cool. But nonetheless I've got two great teammates, Spencer Gallagher and Grant, but yeah, you know, Truck Series is full of a lot of young guys, and you've got to be mindful of that when you're racing with them for sure.
Your truck, it seemed like they wanted to get you out of the lead because they felt like if you were in the lead that you would be hard to pass, and you had an incredible save early in the race, just an unbelievable save. Where do you rate this as far as the truck, equipment that you've driven, having a truck like that on a superspeedway?
JOHNNY SAUTER: Well, I told Marcus, I've never been loose at a superspeedway like I was today, but loose is fast, right? And he told me there was a chance that I would be free. Well, I got really free coming off of Turn 4 that one time and being on the bottom, and when I would get to the lead, I learned a lot tonight. I don't know that it'll necessarily apply to Talladega, but I'm not going to tell you what it was, but where I maybe can do some things a little bit differently. But when I got to the lead I was trying to feed both lanes, and what would happen is I would stall the outside lane out, and they would fall back five or six truck lengths. Well, by the time they were coming back they had such a huge head of steam that it was early in the race and I didn't want to just pull up and block them and take a chance of getting wrecked. So I blocked them enough thinking maybe they would just check up a little bit and get back in line with me, but that wasn't the case.
Having said that, you know, it's just Daytona. It's so crazy to think that the last three years, the complexion of the race, the way that the draft worked is just totally different. If you watch 2014, 2015 and tonight, the race was just totally different, the way that we were able to draft.
I think everybody said that we had a fast truck. I heard that a lot throughout the garage. But you've got to be there at the end, and we were there tonight.
Johnny, you're in this new Chase now. I can't imagine it impacting how you drive.
JOHNNY SAUTER: You've got that right. We're going to drive hard. The goal is to win every week. This probably makes things feel a little bit more comfortable, I guess, knowing that if there is an opportunity to maybe try some technology that you normally wouldn't do if you hadn't won a race, but I'm going to drive as hard as I can week in and week out. I want to win 10 races this year. You know what I'm saying? People ask me what my goals are all the time going into a season. Well, there's 23 races, I want to win 23 times. I don't know if it's realistic or not, but that's how I approach it. So yeah, continue to race hard and learn as much as we can, so when it's go time towards the end of the year, we can do it.
Between the finish, a couple of pretty amazing-looking saves on the track, and the thing coming to pit road, how plain lucky were you tonight?
JOHNNY SAUTER: Well, there's no doubt there's a certain element of luck involved in racing. You know, maybe not so many times with the saves or whatever like that, but that's just circumstances that you know you're going to be in throughout the course of a race, so you've got to be prepared for that kind of stuff.
But the caution deal coming to pit road where the guys were running into each other and spinning, you know, that was all happening behind me, and I'm like, I'm slowing down here to get to pit road and guys are blowing by me backwards. I'm like, this is bad. But those are things you can't control. You just do the best job you can and try to avoid people as best you can. But this is aggressive style racing. You have to really be mindful of what's going on around you at all times and constantly looking in the mirror and be prepared for the push when it comes so you're not caught off guard and go spinning down the backstretch. There's a lot of things to think about in these types of races, but luck is – I don't know that you can really put a number on how lucky you have to be. I think that's something that just – the good Lord is looking out for you some days.
You mentioned your dad in victory lane. First since he died; is that right?
JOHNNY SAUTER: Yes, this is my first win since he's passed away. He won the ARCA race here in 1978, so the first time I won here was pretty special. You know, I just said that the last race I won was at Michigan, and that was his favorite racetrack, and I didn't like it. I always struggled there, and then when I finally won, he's like, see, I told you that track is easy. So for me to get a win without him being here is just extra special, at a place that's just so hard to win and so prestigious, I can't emphasize enough how awesome it is to win at Daytona. But it's different when he's not here.
THE MODERATOR: Johnny, Maurice and Marcus, thanks so much for joining us, and congratulations on the win tonight.