BUSHWHACKERS RUN CIRCLES AROUND BUSCH SERIES REGULARS
Flat Tire Drops Tim Sauter to 33rd
July 30th, Chicagoland Speedway. Over half of the field in Saturday afternoon's NASCAR Busch Series race at the Chicagoland Speedway were Cup regulars, at the end of the event, the top sixteen finishing positions went to Cup Regulars and Johnny Sauter was the only Busch Series driver to even finish on the lead lap. For Lester Buildings driver Tim Sauter and his McGill Motorsports team it was a long afternoon in the sun and heat.
Friday's practice sessions were full of challenges for the McGill Crew. During the first run in the second session, the #36 car bottomed out and cracked the oil pan. NASCAR rules do not allow engine changes unless there is a mechanical problem within the motor, so the crew was forced to remove the engine, replace the oil pan and put the motor back in the car. The crew also had to repair the exhaust system, which was damaged when the car rubbed the track.
Tim came back Saturday afternoon and qualified for the event with a lap of 31.32 seconds placing him 31st on the starting grid. The race would not make it past the second corner before a multi car wreck caused by a spinning Denny Hamlin would shuffle the field. The Lester Buildings #36 held it's own during the first green run and when the caution flew again on lap 15 Sauter was in 28th place. Crew Chief Ricky Pearson kept Sauter on the track during the caution and he moved up to 14th position.
When the race restarted on lap 19, all the cars with fresh tires and adjustments were lined-up directly behind The Lester Buildings #36 and they quickly freight-trained passed the McGill Motorsports entry. "There was nothing I could do there, we were getting really tight in the center of the corner and those guys just blew passed me," Sauter said after the race.
Green flag pit stops started on lap 59 and Sauter had dropped to 35th place when he brought the car to the attention of the crew for tires and a major chassis adjustment on lap 69. The McGill crew performed their best pitstop of the year getting Tim back on the track in just over 16 seconds. After all the cars made their green flag stops, Sauter was in 31st place, two laps down.
Tim was running with several Busch regulars that were all two laps down when he radioed the crew on lap 135, "Something just happened to the left front. I'm not sure if something broke, or if the tire just blew out, I'm coming at you." The left front tire was nearly gone, and the inner line on the tire was barely holding the #36 off the ground. The crew struggled to get the car high enough to get the jack underneath to change the tire, and Sauter lost another lap.
Tim and Auggie Vidovich would race each other hard for the 32nd position over the last 10 laps swapping the position four times, but the leaders caught the pair on the white flag lap and Sauter was unable to get back around the #4 at the finish. "I had him twice," Tim said. "Then he came back on the outside, the leaders caught us and I just couldn't get back past him."
"I sure hope NASCAR takes a look at this soon," Sauter said after the event. "We are out here trying to make a living and race for our sponsors and if we do everything right we might finish 20th. It's really disheartening knowing you are doing everything you can and you have no chance to compete."
The next race for Tim Sauter and the McGill Motorsports team is Saturday, July 15th at the New Hampshire Intl. Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire.