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Past Fantasy Outlooks
The 43-year-old veteran and former series champion will saddle up for another full season of truck series competition in 2022. Sauter returns to the No. 13 ThorSport Racing team for the upcoming season. Father time has finally caught up to the 24-time winner. Sauter is coming off two-straight winless campaigns. He's gone from championship contender to tier "B" in terms of performance. The driver of the No. 13 Toyota scratched for eight Top 10's in each of his last two seasons and has finished 13th- and 12th-place in the championship standings in each of those campaigns. Sauter will be starting the season with a new crew chief and a lot of unanswered questions as to whether he can reclaim his former glory. He and this team are very talented, but they simply cannot dominate like they used to.
The 2016 Camping World Truck Series champion seemed to really hit the wall last season. Sauter labored to just eight Top-10 finishes and his first winless campaign since 2015. The Top-10 totals were his lowest for a season since 2012. The points finish (13th-place) was the lowest of his full-time truck series career. Sauter will turn 43-years-old in the upcoming season, and it seems that time has caught up to the 17-season veteran. All parts of this team will return intact for 2021. However, Sauter and company will have their work cut out trying to recapture any semblance of his performance from a couple years ago. The downward trend line is obvious over the last two seasons, and the youth movement of the truck series is nothing short of relentless.
The move from GMS Racing to ThorSport Racing did not go well at all for Sauter last year. In 2018 he stormed to six victories and 17 Top 10's at GMSR, and he reverted to just one victory and 11 Top 10's last season at ThorSport. It was Sauter's worst campaign since the 2012 season. He was far from a championship contender and it was clearly a frustrating season for the 2016 truck series champion. Sauter should return to this team this season, and obviously there's nowhere to go but up from here. The 41-year-old veteran should modestly increase his Top-5 and Top-10 totals in the upcoming season, but we don't expect Sauter to return to championship contention any time soon.
In a stunning turn of events, GMS Racing parted ways with Sauter at the conclusion of the 2018 season. The veteran driver came up short in the championship race, but still had an incredible campaign. Sauter grabbed a career-best six victories and 14 Top-5 finishes, but finished fourth in the driver standings as a result of a bad outing at Homestead. The 2016 champion is still looking for a ride as of January 2019, which is almost unthinkable. He's been the most dominant driver in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series for the last three seasons, and has posted win and Top-10 totals that rival anyone in the series. Sauter's situation is one to watch closely as the season quickly approaches. There are still some open seats that are decent teams that could use a star like Sauter. Chief among them is the No. 8 team of Eddie Sharp Racing. Depending on where Sauter lands he could be a championship contender or just a lower top tier driver. His position in these driver rankings is very volatile at this point.
With the promotion of reigning truck series champion, Christopher Bell, we're left to wonder who will step up and contend with Sauter for the 2018 Camping World Truck Series championship. That shift in power, vacuum of talent, could propel the GMS Racing veteran back to the crown. He'll certainly be the odds on favorite to race away with the championship. Sauter posted four wins and 19 Top-10 finishes last season in finishing runner-up in the points. Those numbers are nearly identical to the ones he posted in 2016 en route to winning his first title. GMS Racing will bring back the same team and support and in our books that's good enough to make him the top of the heap entering the season.
The move to GMS Racing last season paid off big time for Sauter. Not only did he win three races and collect 19 Top-10 finishes, but he finally captured the elusive Camping World Truck Series championship. After several seasons of near-misses at ThorSport Racing, Sauter was able to hoist the trophy at Homestead last November. With that accomplishment, Sauter and GMS have ascended to the throne of NASCAR's truck series. They will be the team to beat week-in and week-out for the championship in 2017. With the return of Sauter and crew chief, Joe Shear, the team is set to defend this title well in the upcoming season. There has been a changing of the guard atop this division of NASCAR, and Sauter is now its leader.
Sauter makes the big jump from ThorSport Racing to GMS Racing this year. He takes over the truck that the Dillon brothers and Brandon Jones raced in 2015 to some modest success. That driver lineup combined for one win and 13 Top-10 finishes. The addition of Sauter to the No. 21 Chevrolet elevates this team overnight. The 37-year-old veteran had a bit of a lackluster 2015 with no wins, 16 Top-10 finishes and a fourth-place finish in the final standings. Sauter is capable of winning races and challenging for the championship. He should be able to do that at GMS Racing. While a championship this season is not likely, we wouldn’t rule it out down the road in the very near future.
2012 was a down year for Sauter and the ThorSport Racing team. Despite the two victories and nine Top-10 finishes, he finished a lowly ninth in the final driver standings. That is a four-season low for Sauter. The ability to win races was there, but the marked consistency we expect from Sauter and the No. 13 team was no where to be found. That should change in the upcoming season. Sauter averaged one-and-half wins and 15 Top 10’s per campaign prior to last year’s drop in performance. He should return to this level in the upcoming season and that easily puts him back inside the Top 5 drivers of this racing series.
More Fantasy News
Runner-up Finish at Martinsville
Sauter finished second in the Blue Emu 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway Thursday night.
Wins Truck Series Pole at Daytona
Sauter won the pole for the NextEra Energy 250 Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona International Speedway Friday afternoon. He turned a fast lap of 180.966 mph.
Sauter's No. 13 Gander Truck has been assessed an L1 penalty following pre-race inspection at Michigan International Speedway Friday.
Awarded Truck Pole at Pocono
Sauter will start from the pole for the Pocono Organics 150 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at Pocono Raceway Saturday afternoon.
Runner-up Finish at Las Vegas
Sauter finished second in the Strat 200 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Friday evening.