FOUNTAIN, CO (July 27, 2002) Tim Sauter and his AP Performance Racing Team rolled to a 23rd-place finish in the NetZero 250 NASCAR Busch Series race at Pikes Peak International Raceway Saturday. "We were way too tight at the beginning of the...
FOUNTAIN, CO (July 27, 2002) Tim Sauter and his AP Performance Racing Team rolled to a 23rd-place finish in the NetZero 250 NASCAR Busch Series race at Pikes Peak International Raceway Saturday.
"We were way too tight at the beginning of the race, just plowing like a dump truck," said Sauter, who started 21st and fell to 38th in the early stages of the event on the slippery one-mile PPIR oval. "In happy hour Friday, we were great for about 20 laps and then the car would change dramatically. It did the same thing today."
Sauter held his starting position through the first two caution periods of the day opting not to pit and maintain track position. Sauter's strategy went out the window when the handling on his No. 19 Chevy faded eventually putting him one lap down to the leaders. Sauter then pitted taking on four fresh tires, fuel and a spring rubber to try to improve his car's handling. Back on the track and in 38th position, Sauter began the long climb back through the field over the final 150 laps.
"We steadily improved after the first pit stop, but the damage was really done when we stayed out during the second caution," said Sauter.
Sauter slowly picked up positions and even passed the leaders to gain a lap back on the 176th circuit. Unfortunately, the final 220 laps were run caution free negating any chance the Necedah, WI driver had of gaining any additional laps back. At the finish, Sauter had worked his way into the 23rd spot.
"We were the best we had been all day at the end of the race" stated Sauter. "It's important to be good right off the bat. When we were bad after that second caution, we were just doomed."
There was a bright lining in Saturday's dark cloud as Sauter still managed to gain a spot to 12th in the 2002 Busch Series championship chase.
"We still have quite a few races left and I'm confident we can move into the Top-10 in points," said Sauter. "At the beginning of the year, our goal was to consistently finish in the Top-15 and have a shot at a Top-10 in points. Those are pretty lofty goals for a first-year, unsponsored team. For the most part, I think we have done that this season and we're knocking on the door for a Top-10 finish in the points. We're having a good season, we've just got to capitalize on these races to close out the year."
Sauter's AP Performance Racing Team hopes to do just that when they return to action in the Kroger 250 this weekend at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Sauter tested there two weeks ago and is looking forward to racing on a shorter flat track that suite his driving style best.
"We took a brand new Chevy to test at IRP," said Sauter, who finished second in his last appearance in an American Speed Association contest at the tight IRP oval last September. "We threw several different setups at our AP Performance Chevy and learned what the car liked. In the end, we left with valuable test data and track time. I'm looking forward to a solid performance next weekend"
The Kroger 200 at Indianapolis Raceway Park will take the green flag Saturday at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The event will telecast live on TNT and broadcast worldwide on MRN Radio.