Long Night for Tim Sauter
Rain Delays and Two Wrecks Result in 39th Place Finish.
May 5th, Richmond International Raceway. Mother nature played havoc with the NASCAR Busch Series teams Friday evening with a brief rain shower delaying the start of the race and stopping the race twice for light showers during the early stages of the event. For McGill Motorsports driver Tim Sauter, the delays were just the beginning of a long night, a disappointing finish, and a torn-up racecar.
Starting the Circuit City 250 from the 34th starting spot, Tim held his position as the field sorted out through the early cautions and rain delays. When the race finally restarted for good on lap 35 at 10:35 eastern time Tim was in 35th place. Two cautions later on lap 50, Tim gave up the 28th position and brought the Lester Buildings #36 into the pits for tires and fuel. After the restart, Tim steadily advanced through the field moving from 35th up to 30th when the caution again flew on lap 76.
Crew Chief Ricky Pearson called for Tim to stay on the track and the move raised Tim up to the 4th position as most of the other lead lap cars pitted. Though he was not able to keep up with the cars with fresh tires that restarted directly behind him, Tim was able to stay in the top-ten for 17 laps. As the tires wore and lost grip Tim fell back through the field until the next caution on lap 122 when he pitted again for tires and fuel.
A strange chain of events involving all three Sauter brothers happened on lap 135 when Tim went high on the track to let Johnny pass on the inside, as he settled back into the lower grove, he was hit from behind by his other brother Jay, and the contact sent the Lester Buildings Chevy hard into the outside wall. It was the second time this year that the silver and black #36 was spun by one of his own brothers.
The McGill Motorsports crew quickly went to work to repair the damage to the rear of the car and got Tim back out on the track only a couple of laps down. Tim was able to maintain minimum speed and continued on. On lap 185 the right rear tire blew out causing Tim to loose control and spin, hitting the car of JJ Yeley who was running behind him. Though the crew tried several times, the damage from the second wreck was too great to finish the race.
Kevin Harvick won the race, which did not end until 12:35 EST Saturday morning, extending his already sizeable point lead over the rest of the Busch Series. Tim, despite having a good handling car finished a disappointing 39th and dropped to 28th place in the driver's standings. "I don't understand why we can't buy a break. We were off sequence on pit stops, which worked for a while, but when your tires get older, you have to just try to hold position and stay out of trouble. We just got wrecked," a dejected Sauter said after the race. "I feel so bad for the guys in the shop, they were just getting caught up from the wreck at Nashville and now they have a bunch of work to do on this car. I feel terrible for Lester Buildings and John & Nancy McGill, they have done nothing to deserve all this bad luck."
The team heads to Darlington Speedway next weekend for the Diamond Hill Plywood 250 where Tim will be making his 100th career NASCAR start. He's hoping number 100 will bring better luck and a little more brotherly love.