BUSCH: Darlington: Tim Sauter preview

CONCORD, NC (March 7, 2002) - Tim Sauter is thinking about bringing some high tech help to Darlington Raceway to assure a top finish in the Darlington Raceway.com 200 NASCAR Busch Series event - a wooden two-by-four strapped to his No. 19 AP ...

CONCORD, NC (March 7, 2002) - Tim Sauter is thinking about bringing some high tech help to Darlington Raceway to assure a top finish in the Darlington Raceway.com 200 NASCAR Busch Series event - a wooden two-by-four strapped to his No. 19 AP Performance Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

"It's an old Harry Gant trick," said Sauter of the legendary NASCAR driver. "You take wood two-by-four's and safety wire them to the right side door-bars and frame. If you hit the wall and get a 'Darlington Stripe', it keeps the sheet metal from crushing in and bending the rear housing. That way, you don't cut down a tire or hurt the axle."

Of course, Sauter was kidding when he was referring to the old racer's trick in preparing for the upcoming NASCAR Busch Series event at 'The Track Too Tough To Tame.' On the other hand, the Necedah, WI driver might resort to anything in an effort to better his 29th-place effort in the SunCom 200 NBS event at Darlington a year ago.

"The drive plate in my car wasn't secured and we broke a rear axle," said Sauter of the finish in his only career appearance at Darlington. "When it broke, it felt like someone hit me hard from behind. I thought that's all it was so I got back on the gas and it knocked again. I decided we better pit and that's where we found the problem and parked for the day." The mechanical failure ended a long week for Sauter, who was coming off a rough experience at Atlanta Motor Speedway the weekend before.

"Last year's Darlington race was rough for me because I had wrecked hard at Atlanta," Sauter stated. "It was easily the worst crash of my career and I was bruised from head to toe. I didn't get too aggressive at Darlington because my body couldn't afford to go though another crash. I had all I could do just to show up and race."

Sauter is in full health this time around at Darlington and ready to challenge the tricky 1.366-mile oval. Armed with a potent Monte Carlo, Sauter and his AP Performance teammates are looking for bigger and better things at Darlington and beyond.

"I'm wiping the slate clean from my first race at Darlington last year," said Sauter. "We tested last week at Darlington with some really good teams and we posted the second-fastest time. We stayed over for an extra day of testing after everyone left and posted 29.360-second lap."

Sauter hopes the solid test will help him improve on a strong effort in the last tour race at Las Vegas where he ran in the Top-10 for the majority of event. Save for a bad break at the end of the race, the Wisconsin short track veteran and 1999 American Speed Association champion would have finished among the leaders instead of 17th in the final running order.

"The difference between racing at Darlington and Las Vegas is night and day," Sauter stated. "Vegas is a much more forgiving racetrack - Darlington isn't. At Las Vegas, if you drive in too hard, you have a lot of real estate to catch the car before you crash. At Darlington, there's nothing but concrete just outside your door. That's all your gonna feel, there's no escaping it."

While a Top-10 effort at Darlington would help Sauter in the division point standings (he's 24th after the first three races of the season), a great finish would also go a long way in helping his AP Performance team attract a primary sponsor. "We definitely would like to have a full-time, primary sponsor," said Sauter. "Our team owner, Alec Pinsonneault, has provided us with everything we need to be successful. This is the best situation I have ever been in and I love racing with these guys. We know we can do the job on the racetrack and in the marketplace. We just need to get the right company on board and help them be successful too."

Sauter and his No. 19 AP Performance Chevrolet Monte Carlo will take the green flag in the DarlingtonRaceway.com 200, March 16, at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The event will be telecast live on FX and will be broadcast worldwide on MRN Radio.

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Tim Sauter , Harry Gant