ILL-TIMED CAUTION SPOILS ANOTHER STRONG RUN FOR DRIVER AT HOMETOWN TRACK June 23rd, Milwaukee Mile. As fellow Wisconsin driver Paul Menard celebrated his first Busch Series victory Saturday night at the Milwaukee Mile, Lester Buildings driver...
ILL-TIMED CAUTION SPOILS ANOTHER STRONG RUN FOR DRIVER AT HOMETOWN TRACK
June 23rd, Milwaukee Mile. As fellow Wisconsin driver Paul Menard celebrated his first Busch Series victory Saturday night at the Milwaukee Mile, Lester Buildings driver Tim Sauter wondered what could have been. An unfortunate caution came out after Sauter had made his last planned pit stop of the evening stranding his McGill Motorsports entry two laps down to the leaders. What might have been Sauter's best finish of the season instead turned into a disappointing 27th in front of the hometown sellout crowd.
"I'm sounding like a broken record, but it's the third week in a row that we had a car capable of a solid lead lap finish that we end up back in the mid-twenties. Being home at Milwaukee makes this one a little tougher," Sauter said after the race. "We need to find a way to create some positives for ourselves. The pit strategy didn't turn out for us tonight, but at the time I thought it would work out."
Tim qualified for the event with a lap of 29.96 seconds placing him 24th on the starting grid. After about 15 laps the car would start to get tight in the center of the corner and the #36 began to slide backward through the field. Leader Clint Bowyer lapped Tim on lap 44, who had dropped to the 28th position. The car was getting tighter and tighter as the run when on. When the first caution waived on lap 63 Tim was mired a lap down in 32nd place.
Crew Chief Ricky Pearson called for wholesale changes on the stop including; air pressure adjustments, track bar, wedge and adding a rubber to the right rear spring. Even with all the changes the McGill crew got Tim out in 29th place, picking up three spots. Another quick caution on lap 69 moved Tim into the "lucky dog" position as the first car one lap down. When the green flew it was evident that the changes had helped the handling of the Lester Buildings Chevy. Tim managed to keep pace with the top ten cars proving he now had a car capable of running up front. Tim received the free pass back onto the lead lap when the caution flew again on lap 91.
The race restarted on lap 94 with the #36 in 27th place and Sauter quickly began working his way to the front of the field, by lap 103 he was up to 23rd. When the caution flew on lap 125 for a three-car wreck, Tim was up to 20th place.
Knowing how important track position is, Pearson called for Sauter to stay on the track, which would also save a set of tires for later in the race. Surprisingly, Tim was the only lead lap car to stay out leaving him as the race leader. With fast cars on fresh tires behind, his time at the front would be short lived, but as long as the caution would come out in the next thirty laps Sauter would be able to get four fresh tires and regain the lost positions.
Unfortunately the needed caution never happened and Sauter fell a lap down. The McGill crew was forced to make a green flag pit for tires and fuel on lap 183, dropping three laps to the leaders. The fresh tires allowed Sauter to move quickly forward passing cars nearly every lap, including Jason Leffler on lap 195 to regain one of his three laps. Now as long as the caution did not come out in the next few laps, the lead lap cars would need to pit and Sauter would gain back many positions.
As fate would have it, the caution flag flew when leader Leffler spun trying to get onto pit lane on lap 205, stranding Sauter two laps down in 25th place. Seven caution flags flew over the last 40 laps of the race, including one on lap 228 when Tim was spun by the #98 of Erin Crocker.
The night ended with Sauter in 27th place on his home track. A real disappointment after leading for six laps and running lap times competitive with top-ten cars for a good portion of the race.
"It's so competitive in the Busch Series right now, all the Cup influence has raised the bar," Sauter explained "One little mistake can cost a bunch of positions; we know consistency is the key to getting good finishes. Tonight the caution got us, last week we lost a tire on pit road. The guys had pretty good stops tonight, we had one deal with a missing lug but it didn't hurt us real bad. This team just can't seem to buy a break. I'm hoping we can turn it around when we go back to the Daytona next week. Our two best finishes have come at the plate tracks, so it's time for us to get another."
Friday, June 30 Sauter and the McGill Motorsports team will return to the high banks at Daytona for the Winn Dixie 250. The team is looking forward to repeating it's top 20 finish at the track in February. Lester Buildings will again be on the hood of the Silver #36 Chevy as the 2006 season hits the halfway mark.