After wrecking Austin Hill in last Sunday’s M&M’s 200 at Iowa Speedway, Johnny Sauter has been suspended for the upcoming Gander Outdoors Truck Series round at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. NASCAR announced the penalty on Tuesday.
In the Iowa race, Hill and Sauter made contact in green-flag racing. After Hill responded by hitting Sauter, the latter answered under the ensuing caution by slamming into Hill’s #16 Hattori Racing Enterprises truck, sending the two into the outside wall. Sauter was parked by NASCAR officials and ended his race in twenty-seventh, while Hill was able to salvage his day to finish twelfth. Both drivers were subsequently ordered to the NASCAR hauler to discuss the incident.
“We tend to look at incidents under caution as more of a retaliatory thing,” NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller stated. “Obviously, him driving half a track with a smoking truck and winding through a few cars to get to the 16 and then running over him, then bouncing off the wall and running into his door, it was pretty aggressive. It was definitely not anything that could in any way, shape or form be defended as a racing incident.”
Regarding potentially also disciplining Hill, Miller commented, “While we haven’t typically reacted in the form of a penalty to those things, there will certainly be further discussions with the driver of the 16 and he will definitely be placed under a little bit more of a microscope as far as us watching his actions on the race track.”
Despite the suspension, Sauter will not lose points nor be fined; he will also remain eligible for the Truck Series playoffs (he had already guaranteed himself a spot by winning at Dover International Speedway in May). He is currently eighth in points with a 32-point advantage over ninth-place Todd Gilliland, who is on the opposite side of the playoff cut line. Sauter’s replacement in the #13 ThorSport Racing truck for Gateway has not been announced.
The incident caps off what was a rather unusual M&M’s 200. Originally scheduled for Saturday, rain forced the race to be moved to Sunday morning, hours before the regularly-scheduled Xfinity Series event. Ross Chastain, seeking to crack the top twenty in the standings and claim a race win to make the playoffs after switching from Xfinity to Truck points earlier in the month, scored the victory but was disqualified under NASCAR’s new post-race inspection rules. As such, Brett Moffitt recorded his first race win of 2019.