By Toby Christie (Follow on Twitter @Toby_Christie)
Just as we were beginning to believe that the game of musical chairs that is NASCAR silly season was just about wrapped up, we find out we were totally wrong.
Wednesday, GMS Racing sent out a shocking press release. After three seasons, 13 wins and a NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Championship together, the team has decided to part ways with veteran driver Johnny Sauter effective immediately.
“We cannot thank Johnny enough for his contributions to the growth and success of GMS Racing,” said Mike Beam, team president. “He won the first championship for us and added a lot of trophies to our shop. We wish him all the best for his future endeavors, both in and out of racing.”
No official word yet on who will replace Sauter in the No. 21 Chevrolet Silverado in 2019, but in an interview with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Sauter said several times that he believes Brett Moffitt, who was released from his ride at Hattori Racing Enterprises after winning the Truck Series title in 2018, will be taking over the ride.
Sauter also said that GMS Racing’s decision to part ways was a financial decision. According to Sauter the split from his team is something, “I wouldn’t call amicable. It is what it is.”
GMS Racing declined to comment any further on the reasoning behind releasing the most successful driver in the company’s history.
Sauter, 40, is a 23-time winner in the Truck Series, and he has finished fourth-or-better in the championship standings in each of the last six seasons. Sauter also piled up an impressive six wins this past season, before falling flat in the Championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
So, what’s next for Sauter?
“It’s kind of late in the game, obviously,” Sauter told SiriusXM. “Daytona’s only a month away, so you don’t want it to go down like that but there ain’t a whole hell of a lot I can do about it. It’s just life. What’s next for me? Don’t have a clue. You see a lot of drivers get sidelined — good drivers — and that’s the nature of the beast.”