Sauter ready to roll into 1999 By Brett Borden
WELCOME, N.C. (Feb. 24, 1999) Jay Sauter comes into the 1999 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season looking to bring another championship to Richard Childress Racing on the circuit. It's a high goal, but the way Sauter sees it, a necessary one.
"There's a certain amount of pressure, obviously, being on one of the best teams in the business," Sauter said. "But there's a flip side to that. You know you're going to get the best equipment and resources."
Sauter showed he was one of those resources last season, when he earned seven top-10 finishes in the last eight races. Included in that streak was a victory at Martinsville and a runner-up finish at Memphis. The top-10 drivers jockeyed for position all season long, but when the dust settled Sauter's strong finish earned him fourth place in the final point standings.
Sauter said it was a combination of lessons learned that helped him regroup and finish strong.
"It was knowing the tracks and knowing what I want from the truck," he said. "Coming from the short tracks that I had raced on it was tough expressing what I wanted. And I think we really started to come together in that regard at the end of last year. The first year was a tough year. The competition was so fierce. After getting a second year and then another year under my belt, I just feel more and more confident.
"We have lacked consistency. The biggest thing is to try and find what it takes. We have to carry our momentum on into 1999. We've got a new truck, new engines and the folks at RCR have really done a great job. We feel like we will run in the top-five week in and week out."
The new truck Sauter refers to is the Chevrolet Silverado, which replaces the Chevrolet C/K 1500 this year in the series. He looks forward to running it this year against the Fords and Dodges.
"The new Chevrolet Silverado was better in the wind tunnel test," he said. "It had better downforce. It responds better than the old truck. So we're really excited about it."
And he is real excited about the team's test at Homestead, Fla., site of the season-opening Florida Dodge Dealers 400 on March 20.
"Homestead was a really good test for us," Sauter said. "The new Silverado pickup really responded well to the new aerodynamic changes. And RCR really came up with a great motor program."
RCR also has some very talented other drivers to ask for advice. One of those drivers has seven NASCAR Winston Cup Series titles on his resume, but also his own team in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
"(Dale) Earnhardt's very busy," Sauter said. "When I do see him he always gives me advice. (Former truck champion for RCR, Mike) Skinner and I have more of a race relationship. He'll answer any question I have. Outside of that I go to my dad (Jim Sauter), a former IROC test driver and a Midwest short-track legend of the stature of Dick Trickle. He has nothing to gain or lose by advising me."
Sauter has a lot to lose this season. His lofty expectations for 1999 could weigh heavily on most teams. But he chooses to see them as a positive.
"It's really the whole package," he said. "It just feels good. The team and all the members are all upbeat."
Source: NASCAR Online