After much speculation as to who was to inherit the No. 30 Chevy ride at RCR Racing, at an announcement this morning at New York's Waldorf Astoria, Richard Childress has chosen Johnny Sauter as he primary driver.
Sauter, 25, will run for Rookie of the Year honors in 2004 with Kevin Hamlin as his crew chief. Hamlin, who has taken two other driver to ROTY honors (Mike Skinner, Kevin Havick), moves over from the No. 31 of Robby Gordon, as does Hamlin's entire crew. Chris Andrews will crew chief the No. 31 next season.
"I am looking forward to working with Johnny and claiming another Rookie of the Year award for RCR," said Hamlin. "I see him following the trend of having a strong rookie season and competing for wins. We'll have a strong, experienced crew coupled with a hard charging rookie, so I am excited about the 2004 season. We're delighted that a promising young driver like Johnny Sauter will be a threat in the #30 AOL Chevrolet."
Sauter finished eighth in Busch series points in 2003, and with the help of teammate Kevin Harvick propelled RCR to the owner's championship. The Necadah, Wisconsin native first burst onto the NASCAR scene in 2001, running a limited Busch schedule.
All while securing the ASA title, rookie honors in that series, and ten victories. In 2002, Sauter moved into the No. 2 Chevy at RCR, earning his first series victory and finishing 15th in standings.
"Driving for RCR and AOL in the Nextel Cup Series is just an unbelievable opportunity for me, really a dream come true," said Sauter. "RCR has been my home since Richard took the chance a few years back and put me in that Busch car. There isn't another team I would want to race for in my rookie year."
In addition to running a full Nextel Cup series schedule next year, he will also run full time for Brewco Motorsports in the Busch series.