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Johnny Sauter Eager to Get to Daytona

Johnny Sauter
Johnny Sauter
Mooresville, NC NASCAR Nationwide Series testing begins Friday and one driver, in particular, is chopping at the bit to get back to the track.

Johnny Sauter, driver of the No. 1 Miccosukee Resorts & Gaming Chevrolet, has been counting down the days until he gets to turn laps in his James Finch owned car.

Im always happy to have a few weeks off in December, Sauter said. But once you turn the calendar page to January, Im ready to get back to the track.

Coming off his first full year in NASCAR Cup competition, which included the drivers first top-five finish and a sixth place finish in the Nextel All Star Challenge, Sauter returns to his roots in the Nationwide Series with a familiar car number and Hendrick Horsepower under the hood of his Chevrolet.

Its like coming home, Sauter said about racing in the Nationwide Series. My whole family, both my brothers and my dad, all have some great memories racing in this series and Im happy to be back over here.

Sauters return to Phoenix Racing came as a welcome opportunity to Finch, whose last win as a team owner came at Milwaukee with Sauter in 2005.

The teams newly hired crew chief, Jon Wolfe, is just as excited about the 2008 season. Wolfe has been logging serious overtime hours at the shop and in the wind tunnel, preparing for what he hopes will be a standout season for the team.

Theres a lot to do and weve all been putting in a lot of over time and most of us worked over Christmas. Wolfe said. Theres a kind of energy around the shop that makes me think this is going to be a great year.

While Wolfe has been working long hours at the shop, Sauter has been working overtime in the gym.

If I look back on my career, my best runs have come when Ive been working out and eating right. Sauter said. So Ive been really focused on exercise and Ive been eating totally organic for the past few weeks and I feel really good.

In Nationwide competition at Daytona International Speedway, Sauter has four top-10 finishes and a career best runner-up finish to Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2004.

If I was going to finish second to someone at Daytona, Im glad it was Dale Jr. Hes pretty much a drafting genius. Sauter continued. But this year, Im here to win. Its not that I have something to prove, its just all that matters is getting the No. 1 car back in Victory Lane. (James) Finch was nice enough to have me back with Phoenix Racing and I really want to win races for him and for all the guys back at the shop.

The record books speak for themselves, proving the 29-year driver will be one to watch in 2008. With three wins, three poles and 49 top-10 finishes, Sauter has done well for his teams at a variety of tracks. While hes yet to win a superspeedway event, Sauter finished 16th in last years Daytona 500, 18th in the Pepsi 400 and 12th in the UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega.

Sauters last full year in the Nationwide Series came in 2006. As the driver of the No. 00 car, Sauter finished 8th in the championship standings, with only two DNFs in 35 races.

Beyond the track, Sauter had an eventful off season, which included his marriage to longtime girlfriend, Cortney Owen.

The two traveled to Montana on their honeymoon, where Sauter showed off his adventurous side snowmobiling, ice skating and horseback riding.

Im no expert, but horseback riding was a blast. Sauter said. I was pretty sore from that, but probably more from the few falls I took ice skating. The snowmobiling was more my thing.

Sauter and Team Miccosukee will be in attendance for the Nationwide Series test Friday, January 18 through Sunday, January 20.

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