Anybody remember who won the NASCAR Truck Series opener at Daytona?
Yes, it was Johnny Sauter, and he certainly remembers.
But it is six weeks since the series last raced and everyone from series director Chad Little down to the drivers and crews are ready to return to action in Saturdays Kroger 250 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Former series director Wayne Auton told me this was going to be the best part of my job was the five-week vacation following Daytona, and then it was time to get busy, Little said.
I think the competitors are anxious to get back to Martinsville. Most of them come from the short-track circles and its most near and dear to their hearts.
Sauter, a former champion in the American Speed Association (a series dominated by short tracks), certainly is one of them.
He has had a mixed record of success at Martinsville but was excited to leave Daytona without having to dig out of a sizable points hole for a change.
The Truck Series has been a tough row to hoe for me at Daytona, Sauter. Every year weve been looking at being 25th to 35th in points, depending where we finished, going into the rest of season.
Hopefully we can get back to championship form. I think we can. I know the guys are working hard. Were going to Martinsville next weve won there.
Im digging right now where were sitting, thats for sure.
Sauter has competed at all of NASCARs elite levels Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck. He is in his fifth consecutive season driving for ThorSport Racing owners Duke and Rhonda Thorson.
Sauter, 34, has never won a drivers championship in any of NASCARs three national series. He came closest in 2011 when he was runner-up and six points shy of Truck Series champion Austin Dillon.
Sauter shared in the 2003 owners championship in what is now the Nationwide Series. He and Kevin Harvick shared the driving duties in Richard Childress Racings No. 21 Chevrolet that season.
Sauter grew up around racing. One of 12 children of legendary short-track racer Jim Sauter, Johnny still had to fund his racing efforts as he decided to pursue it as a career.
Because of his fathers rule that he must finish high school before competing on a regular basis, Johnnys foray into racing didnt come until the summer after his graduation.
It didnt take long to find success, as Johnny Sauter won the ASA national championship with a record 10 wins in 2001 at age 23.
Asked what it would mean to win his first drivers title, Sauter was emphatic.
It would obviously be the biggest accomplishment of my career for myself and for my family, he said.
I grew up in racing with my dad and brothers. However, I dont think Ill truly know what it means until it happens.
A good finish this weekend and Sauter might be well on his way to finding out.