Jim Sauter smiles proudly after winning the 200-lap feature at the National Short Track Championship in Rockford.
Rockford, Ill. (September 21, 1980) – Jim Sauter, the 15-year stock car veteran from Necedah, Wis., became the 11th different winner in the 15-year history of the National Short Track Championships as he won the 200-lap premier event on the Rockford Speedway quarter-mile oval Sunday afternoon.When the opening green fell, on a starting grid that included drivers from eight different states, Bob Strait of Crestwood, Ill., took the initial lead with Chicago’s Billy Venturini and Sauter falling into position behind him. This was the way the front three ran until lap 51 when Sauter slipped past Venturini and the two exchanged slots.
Sauter took advantage of his new location and another six laps saw him move past Strait for the top spot. By lap 65, he would extend his lead to a quarter-lap margin.
Rockford’s John Knaus would replace Venturini in third place and started putting pressure on Strait. Lap after lap, it was Sauter, Strait and Knaus until the 97th circuit when three-time NSTC winner Joe Shear got by Knaus and immediately tucked in behind Strait’s Camaro.
At the mandatory 101st lap pit stop, it was Sauter into the lead. Following his white 1979 Camaro were Strait, Shear, Knaus and Venturini in the next four positions.
Four laps after the restart, Shear slipped by Bob Strait and started closing the distance between he and Jim Sauter. It didn’t take long for the South Beloit, Ill., pilot to eliminate the gap, pull in behind the popular Wisconsin driver and start looking for his chance to move to the front.
Finally, on lap 134, Shear saw his chance and going low into turns #3 and #4, took the lead. It was Shear and Sauter with Dick Trickle a distant third. Then it happened…
On lap 159, Joe picked the wrong groove, got bogged down in slower traffic, and could only watch as Sauter moved around Shear and back into the number one spot. Shear would apply pressure to Sauter several more times but couldn’t regain the top spot.
As the final checkered came down, it was over the hood of Sauter. Shear settled for runner-up honors with Dick Trickle, Mark Martin and John Knaus rounding out the top five.
Mark Martin, the Arkansas kid now driving out of Libertyville, Ind., was the event’s fast qualifier turning a 13.47 second time during Saturday’s time trials.
1. Jim Sauter, Necedah, Wis.
2. Joe Shear, South Beloit, Ill.
3. Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
4. Mark Martin, Libertyville, Ind.
5. John Knaus, Rockford, Ill.
6. Bob Strait, Crestwood, Ill.
7. Mike Miller, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
8. Bill Venturini, Chicago
9. Tom Musgrave, Friendship, Wis.
10.George Dukas, Zion, Ill.
11.Jerry Sisco, Nashville, Tenn.
12.Larry Schuler, Lockport, Ill.
13.Bill Berkheimer, Roscoe, Ill.
14.Steve Murgic, Rosemount, Minn.
15.Bobby Hacker, Roscoe, Ill.
16.Dave Price, Bettendorf, Iowa
17.Bart Reiner, Jefferson, Wis.
18.Bobby Dotter, Chicago
19.Rich Bickle, Edgerton, Wis.
20.Tony Hertko, Joliet, Ill.
21.Ed Hoffman, Bensenville, Ill.
22.Pat Schauer, Watertown, Wis.
23.Ken Lund, Deerfield, Wis.
24.Dick Graves, Rosemont, Wis.
25.Jay Sauter, Necedah, Wis.
26.Don Turner, La Crosse, Wis.
27.Jim Weber, Roseville, Minn.
28.Fred Campbell, Battle Creek, Mich.
29.Fran Prestay, Silver Lake, Minn.
30.Wayne Dion, Warwick, R.I.
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