The ASA Midwest Tour was a family reunion of sorts at Oktoberfest in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Three members of the famous Sauter racing family were entered in the 100 lap main event. With family patriarch Jim Sauter in attendance, his sons Johnny and Tim, along with Tim’s son Travis all qualified for the event.
Johnny Sauter and his brand new car that had never even seen a racetrack until he brought it to Oktoberfest, led flag to flag in holding off Travis, as the two battled each other over the race’s final 88 laps. Considering the long history of the Sauter family at Oktoberfest, Johnny became only the second Sauter to win at Oktoberfest following Travis’ win back in 2009.
“I’m ecstatic! This is something I’ve been trying to do,” said Johnny Sauter. “The family has been trying to do this, and obviously Travis did it. Brand new car, first time on a racetrack, a Howe car, we come here put all the parts on it to do what we did, it’s awesome. I didn’t even test this car. The first time on the race track was here, so I am very happy with the way it performed, although if this race was five laps longer we would’ve been in trouble.”
It would hardly appear that Johnny Sauter was ever really in any trouble, despite Travis putting the pressure on him.
Johnny started on the pole with the invert, and at the drop of the green flag his car took off like a rocket. Sauter quickly pulled out a few car lengths over front row starter Matt Tifft. The field began to string out up front, but back in the pack cars were still bunched up.
The race’s first caution would come out on lap 4 when Ross Kenseth got loose off of turn four. Jeff Storm tried to hold up, but the accordion effect reeled in the car of Becca Kasten as they made contact on the front stretch wall. Kasten’s car rolled down the track a bit and Bryan Reffner had nowhere to go but straight into Kasten’s door. Jonathan Eilen also got a piece of Kasten’s car. Only Eilen and Storm were able to make repairs and return to action.
During this yellow Matt Tifft pitted and lost second place. The race was red flagged for a few minutes as the front stretch was blocked with wrecked race cars.
When racing resumed the rocket under Johnny Sauter ignited again as he pulled away from the field. Nick Murgic pulled into second, while Travis Sauter moved into the third spot. On lap 11, Travis moved past Murgic and into second. A little further back, Tim Sauter was holding solidly in the eighth spot.
The only other caution would come out on lap 16, when Jacob Goede and Dan Fredrickson crashed hard into the turn three wall. Fredrickson, the defending Oktoberfest champion would be done for the event, while Goede would make repairs and rejoin the field.
The ASAMT utilizes the cone for lane choice on restarts, and Chris Weinkauf used it to his advantage moving up to third for the restart.
Once the green flag flew it became a match race of Sauter versus Sauter. Johnny and Travis pulled away from the pace and quickly encountered lapped traffic. Both drivers made their way through the traffic with relative ease, as the laps were fast winding down.
Johnny was briefly held up by the car of Nathan Haseleu on lap 45, which allowed Travis to close in on his rear bumper. Travis began to put the pressure on Johnny and was definitely knocking on his rear bumper.
As they encountered heavy lapped traffic, Johnny was able to use the car of Chris Wimmer as a pick on lap 58 to pull away from Travis for a few laps, however, by lap 67. Travis was once again knocking on the bumper and back pressuring for the lead.
Both Sauters mowed down the competition and by lap 82 had lapped their way into the top ten. Just three laps later they came upon the eighth place car of Tim Sauter. For a few laps it seemed as if they were just cruising, trying to allow Tim to stay on the lead lap, yet is as usually the case with any of the Sauters, they don’t really know the meaning of slowing down. Lap 87 was go time as Johnny and Travis finally had to get around Tim and move on.
Travis was not going to go down to defeat that easily, and he laid into Johnny in an effort to get around. They lapped the sixth place car of Jacob Goede on lap 93, as Travis was beginning to run out of time.
Travis was never able to pull alongside Johnny over the final 84 laps, but definitely didn’t lack the effort.
For Johnny, although an infrequent competitor back in his home state, made the most of this opportunity.
“I just lost forward bite, and it was loose getting in bad,” said Johnny Sauter. “I just had to slide it all the way in the corner, slide it through the center and start to hit the throttle. I got some work to do, but overall for the first time out it was good.”
It was good, but perhaps the pace was a bit too much.
“I was trying to conserve because I knew he (Travis) was good on the long runs,” said Johnny. “I kept telling my spotter to tell him to slow down, slow down, and he wasn’t having any of it. He kept forcing my hand. I tried to keep it to a three or four car length gap, but at the end there he was all over me.”
Regarding the battle to put his brother Tim a lap down, Johnny was direct to the point.
“He was using me up pretty good,” said Johnny. “But he’s supposed to. He’s not a lap down yet. That’s the way I race. I race hard. It’s all good.”
Since it is a race steeped in tradition, and a race that except for 2009 has eluded the Sauter family, how much does this win really mean?
“I’m speechless,” said Johnny Sauter. “I’ve been fortunate enough to win some Nationwide races and some truck races but this one is pretty high up there.”
Travis was both happy and disappointed at the same time.
“I’d rather lose to him (Johnny) than anyone else,” said Travis. “Second is still second so it’s still a little disappointing. I think we had a pretty good gap on third place.”
If push had come to shove, just how much would Travis have shoved?
“Sure, because he would have done the same to me,” said Travis. “I wouldn’t have wrecked him. He wanted to slow down during the race, our spotters were talking, and we did slow down. But I said we gotta go because you’re screwing up my rhythm. We took back off and just at the end there when we finally got clear of all the lapped traffic I couldn’t get five laps alone with him. It would have been a lot different if I had a clean run at him.”
Travis was equally as proud of the Sauter’s accomplishment.
“This is the biggest race of the year in Wisconsin, said Travis. “This is the Daytona 500 for short track racers. We want to win it every time we come and I’m glad to see him win it. Now he’ll never have to come back and I can win it next year!”
Despite not having won a single race during the season Andrew Morrissey showed the consistency and patience to win the season championship for the ASAMT. An accomplishment that was a sense of relief for him.
“We came real close to getting some wins,” said Morrissey. “Pretty much every time we had a good car we were stuck deep in the field. We never won any of the battles but we won the war, so that’s all we can ask for. This means everything. I’ve been working at it for ten years trying to win a championship and haven’t won one since I ran a go kart. I’ve had years where I won a ton of features and finished second or third in points. This year was different, we were consistent and it’s all we could do.”
Kyle Shear’s Consistency Nets Him The Overall JMCK 63 Win At Oktoberfest
Kyle Shear was the overall winner of the JMCK 63 Big 8 Invitational at Oktoberfest. The race is named after long time ARTGO promoter John McKarns who came up with the Dick Trickle 99 event for super late models at Oktoberfest. Like the Trickle 99, the JMCK 63 is a three segment race, but only 21 laps apiece. A blind draw for starting spots determines the first segment lineup, with the second segment being a complete field invert of the finish of the first segment. Segment three is then determined by the winner of the second segment picking numbers off a board revealing the final number plus eight cars.
Zack Riddle picked up the win in the first segment, as he picked his way through the field of cars in impressive fashion. In a three lap stretch midway through the race he picked off four cars to move sixth place into second by lap 8. Drivers like Corey Jankowski, Cory Kemkes, James Swan, and Ryan Carlson were his victims.
Riddle then set his sights on leader Bobby Wilberg and made quick work of him on lap 10. Once in the lead Riddle steadily pulled away and cruised to the easy victory. Cory Kemkes recovered to finish in second, while Kyle Shear rolled into third. Wilberg slipped back to fourth, with James Swan rounding out the top five.
Segment two featured the complete field invert, and Jason Schuler was the beneficiary. Starting fourth, he would make his way to the front taking over the lead on lap 16. Schuler would cruise to the victory with Mike Ehde coming in second. Kyle Shear scored his second third place finish, while Nick Clements and Zack Riddle rounded out the top five.
Schuler was unlucky with his board selection for the final invert and drew thirteen. Schuler was never a factor in the third segment, but from back in the pack, Riddle and Shear were battling it out for the overall title.
Up front it was Brent Kirchner and Travis Stanley with Corey Jankowski not far behind. Stanley would make the move on Kirchner on lap 11 after using the chrome horn to move him up the track. Once Stanley got the lead, he was never challenged and rolled to the segment win.
A bit further back the pass for the overall win would happen on lap 8. Kyle Shear got to the inside of Zack Riddle and kept in front of him for the rest of the race. The pair would finish third and fourth respectively, but Shear’s higher combined finishes gave him the overall title.
“This means a ton,” said Shear. “With my last name here and with McKarns’ last name here, both those combined is absolutely amazing. I can’t even explain what this means. It’s absolutely awesome. I’m very happy and my guys worked their tails off for me. It’s awesome and I can’t thank everyone enough. We started pretty far back in all of them and got to the front. Even last night in the Big 8 race we started towards the back and finished fourth and today third all three segments and it allowed me to get the overall win. That last session I knew I had to beat Zack Riddle and had to run him hard for it. I wasn’t going to let him get this I was going to win this.”
Results of the ASAMT Oktoberfest 100 at the LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway
1 - 43S - Johnny Sauter - Necedah, WI
2 - 5 - Travis Sauter - Necedah, WI
3 - 75W - Chris Weinkauf (TS) - Merrill, WI
4 - 78 - Skylar Holzhausen (R) - Bangor, WI
5 - 99D - Erik Darnell - Beach Park, IL
6 - 72 - Jacob Goede (TS) - Carver, MN
7 - 22P - Nick Panitzke (TS) - Sauk Centre, MN
8 - 9K - Mark Kraus - Stratford, Wi
9 - 99T - Tim Sauter - Necedah, WI
10 - 64 - Griffin McGrath (TS) - Cedar Rapids, IA
11 - 76 - Jason Weinkauf - Merrill, WI
12 - 12 - Nick Murgic (TS) - Rosemount, MN
13 - 21 - Tim Schendel (TS) - Sparta, WI
14 - 53 - Boris Jurkovic - Orland Park, IL
15 - 52 - Chris Wimmer (TS) - Wausau, WI
16 - 77E - Jonathan Eilen (TS) - Hampton, MN
17 - 87 - Nathan Haseleu (TS) - Marshall, WI
18 - 75T - Joel Theisen (R) - Maple Grove, MN
19 - 58 - Cardell Potter - Camp Douglas, WI
20 - 39 - Andrew Morrissey (TS) - DeForest, WI
21 - 89 - Matt Tift - Hinckley, OH
22 - 63 - Gary LaMonte - West Allis, WI
23 - 70 - Neil Knoblock - Wausau, WI
24 - 25S - Jeff Storm (TS) - Waterford, WI
25 - 66 - Steve Carlson (TS) - West Salem, WI
26 - 34 - Brandon Hill - Genoa City, WI
27 - 36 - Dan Fredrickson - Lakeville, MN
28 - 51K - Becca Kasten - Mecquon, WI
29 - 25K - Ross Kenseth (TS) - Spring Valley, IL
30 - 80 - Bryan Reffner - Steven's Point, WI
JMcK 63 Big 8 Invitational
Livewire Energy & Miller Lite 21 Segment 1 (20 Cars) — 1, Zach Riddle, Brooklyn; 2, Cory Kemkes, Appleton; 3, Kyle Shear, Roscoe; 4, Bobby Wilberg, Beloit; 5, James Swan, Park Ridge, Ill.; 6, John DeAngelis Jr.; 7, Skylar Holzhausen, Bangor; 8, Ryan Carlson, Loves Park, Ill.; 9, Darren Wolke, Belle Plaine, Minn.; 10, Derek Childs, Poynette; 11, Davey Pennell, Sparta; 12, Travis Stanley, Prior Lake, Minn.; 13, Brent Kirchner, La Crosse; 14, J. Herbst, La Crosse; 15, Corey Jankowski, Tomah; 16, John Baumeister Jr., Lake Geneva; 17, Jason Schuler, Cambridge; 18, Rich Schumann Jr., Portage; 19, Nick Clements, West Salem; 20, Dan Jung, Iron Ridge.
Livewire Energy & Miller Lite 21 Segment 2 (20 Cars) — 1, Jason Schuler; 2, J. Herbst; 3, Kyle Shear; 4, Nick Clements; 5, Zack Riddle; 6, John DeAngelis; 7, Davey Pennell; 8, Bobby Wilberg; 9, John Baumeister Jr.; 10, Ryan Carlson; 11, Corey Jankowski; 12, Travis Stanley; 13, Brent Kirchner; 14, James Swan; 15, Dan Jung; 16, Derek Childs; 17, Cory Kemkes; 18, Rich Schumann Jr.; 19, Skyler Holzhausen; 20, Darren Wolke.
Livewire Energy & Miller Lite 21 Segment 3 (16 Cars) — 1, Travis Stanley; 2, Brent Kirchner; 3, Kyle Shear; 4, Zach Riddle; 5, Corey Jankowski; 6, John Baumeister Jr.; 7, Davey Pennell; 8, John DeAngelis; 9, Bobby Wilberg; 10, Ryan Carlson; 11, Cory Kemkes; 12, James Swan; 13, Nick Clements; 14, Jason Schuler; 15, Rich Schumann; 16, J. Herbst.