HAMPTON, Ga. -- Johnny Sauter will compete in the entire 2002 NASCAR Busch Series schedule in Richard Childress Racing's No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo instead of splitting driving chores with 2001 champion Kevin Harvick.
The original plan was to bring the 23-year-old Wisconsin native up slowly. He was tapped to compete only in the stand-alone events while Harvick would compete in the races that were companion races with the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.
Sauter's strong showing in the five races he ran for RCR in the No. 21 Rockwell Automation/Brant Motorsports Chevrolet, as well as the desire to increase the focus for the Busch Series and Winston Cup programs, was the reason for the change.
Harvick is tentatively scheduled to run up to three races next season in a third RCR Busch Series car.
"We weren't able to focus enough attention on both the ACDelco and GM Goodwrench Service Plus teams because of the demanding schedule Kevin had driving both cars this year," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing Enterprises, Inc. "We didn't test as much as we should have which meant we didn't learn as much as we should have. Running Johnny fulltime and having Kevin concentrate on the Winston Cup program will allow them and both teams to concentrate on one car and be better prepared when we get to the track."
Sauter will be the second member of his family to drive for RCR. His older brother, Jay Sauter, ran the No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Chevrolet Silverado for three seasons (1997-99) in the NASCAR Truck Series, earning four victories. The elder Sauter will be the part-time driver of the Rockwell Automation car in 2002 with Jeff Green.
"I'm excited to be able to run the ACDelco Chevrolet all season next year and hopefully run for the NASCAR Busch Series Rookie of the Year," said Sauter. "Kevin is obviously handing over a pretty awesome car so my job is to run the best that I can to add to the success of the program."
Sauter will attempt to continue the tradition of excellence the ACDelco brand has established in NASCAR Busch Series racing.
"ACDelco has a history of putting talented young drivers behind the wheel of our NASCAR Busch series entry," said Scott Mackie, ACDelco General Manager. "The record shattering year Johnny Sauter had this year with his 10 wins, Rookie of the Year award, and the Championship in the ASA Series brought him to the forefront of contenders to continue the legacy of ACDelco drivers. Johnny follows in the footsteps of some of NASCAR's best drivers when they began their careers in the Busch series. Steve Park's Rookie of the Year in 1997, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s consecutive Championships in '98 and '99, Kevin Harvick's Rookie of the Year in '00 and this year's Championship has lead the way for future ACDelco drivers to follow. Initially we had confidence that Johnny would mature into a full time Busch series driver, however we have been very impressed with his driving talent and feel he has already demonstrated the ability to run full time in the Busch series. This will allow him to contend for the Rookie of the Year and a top 10 points standing in 2002. "Certainly ACDelco and all of its distributors have tremendously enjoyed our association with Kevin Harvick. He will be missed, but we are pleased that he will be able to focus his full attention on winning the Winston Cup Championship in 2002."
Richard Childress Racing Enterprises, Inc. (www.rcrracing.com), has set the standard for modern-era stock car racing teams. Based just south of Winston-Salem in Welcome, N.C., RCR is the only NASCAR organization with championships in the Winston Cup Series, Busch Series and Truck Series competition. It fields the NASCAR Winston Cup teams of 2001 NASCAR Busch Series champion, Kevin Harvick, 2000 NASCAR Busch Series Champion, Jeff Green, and Robby Gordon, and the NASCAR Busch Series teams of Harvick and Johnny Sauter.
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