TALLADEGA, Ala. — official release — Jerry Markland/Getty Images North America photo — Most drivers fear Talladega Superspeedway.
Not Johnny Sauter.
Last year, he survived 94 laps at the tumultuous track to claim his ninth career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win. The No. 98 driver’s Talladega triumph was not an anomaly. In five starts at the tri-oval, he also claims a runner-up effort, a third-place showing and an average finish of 7.0.
Sauter returns to Talladega for the Fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola on Oct. 18 (1 p.m. ET on FOX) with more on the line than simply defending his victory. He has a series championship to fight for.
Only 19 points separate Sauter from current standings leader and ThorSport teammate Matt Crafton, who has been unable to tame Talladega. Crafton has three top 10s in eight starts at the Alabama track, but he finished lower than 15th in his other five runs. Sauter’s success at Talladega and the superspeedway’s history of treachery could prove to be the perfect storm for brewing his first championship title.
Even Crafton noted he would have to get through Talladega before he thinks about the championship.
“I’m not even going to worry about it to be honest,” he said. “I’m going to go into each and every race to just go to win. We get through Talladega and then I’ll feel a lot better at that point.”