March 31st, Martinsville Speedway, Tim Sauter endured a roller-coaster ride in the Craftsman Truck Series Kroger 250 Saturday at the Martinsville Speedway. Three lucky dog passes weren't enough to overcome a late electrical issue that left the ...
March 31st, Martinsville Speedway, Tim Sauter endured a roller-coaster ride in the Craftsman Truck Series Kroger 250 Saturday at the Martinsville Speedway. Three lucky dog passes weren't enough to overcome a late electrical issue that left the #07 Lester Buildings Silverado in 29th place behind winner Mike Skinner.
Following the morning qualifying session the entire Green Light Racing team felt a huge sigh of relief. Sauter's time of 20.09 seconds on the tricky half-mile track placed the #07 Chevy the fourteenth starting position, by far the team's best starting spot of the young season. "I messed up a little in turn two on the second lap or we might have been able to go a little quicker, I'm real happy to start in the top-half of the field." Sauter said following qualifying. Sauter's luck would soon change.
When the green flag fell Sauter got caught in the high grove and was freight-trained by numerous trucks. The first yellow fell on lap eight and the Green Light team gave up track position for some chassis adjustments restarting in 34th place. Soon after going a lap down to Mike Skinner, Sauter caught the first of three lucky dog passes on lap 31 following a caution for a spin by Chase Miller. "The truck was super loose at the start," he explained following the race.
Sauter continued to run near the back of the lead lap and compounding the handling issues he reported the motor was not running as well as it had in practice. "I think we have a fuel or carburetor problem. I'm only turning 9,000 rpm." Sauter again lost a lap to the leaders but was awarded his second lucky dog on lap 89.
The Green Light team was able to repair the motor issue under caution on lap 105 and soon Tim improved his lap times by several tenths of a second. In the middle portion of the race the truck was running better and on lap 156 Tim earned his third free pass of the event. The Lester Buildings Chevy restarted in 21st on lap 163 and began to work his way through traffic moving up to 18th when the caution flew on lap 181.
"I think something came off the truck and I ran it over, we need to come in to check it out." Tim radioed the crew. As the #07 was approaching the pit lane it suddenly lost all electrical power. Apparently, contact earlier in the race with another truck had caused damage to the battery box located in front of the left rear wheel. The Green Light team was forced to push the #07 behind the wall to repair the problem loosing 12 laps in the process. The result was a disappointing 29th place finish to a day that had started with much promise.
"What a day, after a horrible start we're in pretty good shape on lap 180. We're on the lead lap and at that point the truck was good enough to race our way into the top fifteen over the last 70 laps," a dejected Sauter said after the race. "We overcame a lot of issues and then that battery deal just killed us. I don't know what we have to do to catch a break. The guys are working too hard to keep having these finishes, something different is biting us every race. We need to figure it out quick, because this is only a 25 race season."
The Green Light Racing team has four weeks to prepare for the next race, as the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will not race again in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway on April 28th.