Johnny Sauter Enjoying his Return to Chicagoland Speedway.

JOLIET, ILLINOIS – JUNE 27: Johnny Sauter, driver of the #13 Tenda Heal Ford, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Camping World 225 at Chicagoland Speedway on June 27, 2019, in Joliet, Illinois. Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

After sitting out the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race last weekend at Gateway, Johnny Sauter with ThorSport Racing is back on track at Chicagoland Speedway for the Camping World 225 on Friday night. Sauter’s hometown is just three hours north of Chicago in Necedah, Wisconsin. That means he has lots of family and friends surrounding him at a track that is special for a number of reasons.

“Chicago is close to home,” says Sauter. “I only live like three hours north of here so it’s obviously a special place for me because it’s where I got my first ever NASCAR win back in the Xfinity Series. And we won the Truck race here a couple of years ago. So I always have a lot of friends and a lot of family that comes to this race and tonight is no different, they’re all here. So it’s been good, it’s been fun and it’s close to home so what more can you ask for?

Sauter took advantage of his one-race suspension from the Truck Series last week by jumping back into a late-model race back home in Wisconsin and finished second.

“I had a blast,” says Sauter. “It was a struggle throughout practice and all that, and kept making the car better. Had to start 15th and it was only 99 laps on a 3/8ths-mile track and it went green from start to finish. We got to second and I don’t know that I had anything for the guy that won it or not. It was a lot of fun! I enjoy that kind of racing a lot and just being able to work on the cars and try to make them better throughout the course of the night. Last week was a big success.”

As for tonight at Chicagoland Speedway, Sauter is starting second on the front row alongside Austin Hill, the driver he had a scuffle with at Iowa Speedway a couple of weeks ago that led to his one-race suspension. Some may think Sauter has redemption on his mind, but that’s not the case.

“Honestly, I don’t really look at it that way,” says Sauter just before the driver’s meeting at Chicagoland Speedway. “I mean it’s just nice to be back and get to race. We just have to put all that stuff that happened behind us. At the end of the day, it’s just not productive stuff. We just got to focus on winning races and getting ready for the playoffs.”

The front row combination of Hill and Sauter should make for an interesting race to say the least. Sauter is somewhat modest in his expectations for the night.

“Honestly, it’s kind of the same deal,” says Sauter “We struggled with grip and compliance yesterday. Had good short-run speed, it just kind of didn’t last. Found some stuff that we maybe think is going to help the truck for tonight.

“I guess I’m kind of in limbo right now just waiting for the drop of the green flag. These guys I’ll put them up against anybody in the garage they can work magic. We’ll just see what we can do and try to stay out of trouble and race the race track all night and it should be a solid night.”

Whatever happens, Sauter is surrounded by family and friends and returning to a track where he’s had some special victories. So, on the chance that he might return to victory lane again, how will he celebrate?

“Two years ago we won here and we had a couple of drinks, a couple of beers and enjoyed it,” says Sauter about how he’d celebrate a victory tonight. “It’s hard to win these races and I’ve been fortunate to win quite a few, but I’ll just hang out with family and friends if I can. But we’ve got a long way to go before we get there.”

Catch the Camping World 225, on Friday, June 28th at 8 pm ET at Chicagoland Speedway with coverage on FOX Sports 1.

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