Tough Night for Tim Sauter
August 5th, O'Reilly Raceway Park. The Kroger 200 was an up and down race for Lester Buildings driver Tim Sauter Saturday evening at the O'Reilly Raceway Park just west of Indianapolis. Sauter raced in and out of the top-twenty ultimately ending up in 33rd place after several on-track incidents moved him back in the running order.
Although Tim qualified 36th with a lap of 22.84 seconds, the McGill Motorsports entry was strong once the green flag flew moving up to 32nd when the second caution flew on lap twelve and continued towards the front of the field working his way through traffic up to 28th on lap 20. When the third caution flew on lap 23, Tim stayed out to gain track position, moving his Chevy up to 21st place.
Tim had a long battle for position with Jeff Burton following the green on lap 26 with Tim finally getting past the Brickyard 400 polesitter on lap 30 into the top twenty. Sauter would race Burton side by side again from laps 44 to 53 before conceding the spot on lap 53.
Tim brought the #36 to the attention of the McGill Motorsports crew for four tires on lap 55. Crew chief Ricky Pearson knew that track position would play a big part in the outcome, so the strategy was to make this a one-stop race. "We were too loose in qualifying, but I wasn't concerned because Ricky and I knew it would tighten up after the sun went down," Tim explained. "The first run the car was pretty good. I told Ricky to give me four more of the same when we came in for tires."
Sauter took the green on lap 58 from the 33rd spot and it appeared that he was headed forward again as he moved up to the 28th position on lap 75 when the caution came out for a spinning Burney Lamar. Several of the leaders came in for tires and fuel, which moved Tim back into the top twenty and it looked as if the team's strategy would pay off.
However right after the green on lap 81, Sauter's car got very tight and he started to loose positions to the cars with fresh tires behind him. "We were so good the first set of tires. The second set started out fine and after about fifteen laps it was like someone flipped a switch. I don't understand how the car could get so tight that we would burn the right front off of the car," Sauter commented. By lap 131 the tire had completely worn out causing Sauter to spin coming off of turn two bringing out the races seventh caution.
Tim would restart on lap 136 with four fresh tires in 35th and soon after the green Aric Amirola would get into the back of Jason Keller. Ron Hornaday cut low to miss the spinning Keller machine and got into the right front of Sauter's Chevy causing considerable damage to the nose and fender of Sauter's car. "It happens so often when you're in the back of the pack on a short track, it was just a matter of time before we got caught up," he added. "It's typical of the luck we're having this season."
Sauter went on to finish a disappointing 33rd behind winner Kevin Harvick in what looked to be a very promising finish. "We should be able to run with these guys here. I'm really disappointed that we could not get Lester Buildings and the McGill team a better finish." Sauter said after the race.