Feeling out Atlanta. HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (October 22, 2002) - The NASCAR Busch Series visits Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway this weekend for the longest race on the schedule, the Aaron's 312. Johnny Sauter and the No. 2 ACDelco Racing team are...
Feeling out Atlanta.
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (October 22, 2002) - The NASCAR Busch Series visits Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway this weekend for the longest race on the schedule, the Aaron's 312. Johnny Sauter and the No. 2 ACDelco Racing team are going prepared, fresh off a test session at the 1.54-mile speedway at the beginning of the month.
"We wanted to go to Atlanta because we knew how tough a track it was," says Sauter. "Rick (Viers, crew chief) and Will (Lind, team manager) thought it would be a good idea to get some track time so I wouldn't be totally lost when we went down. This was the only track I had not been to that's left on the schedule, so I figured I need as much help as I can get."
Sauter's record on high-banked, 1.5-mile speedways in 2002 has been sporadic. In six starts, he's averaged a 16.2 starting position and 15.8 finishing position. Highlights include his first top- three finish at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway, hit first top-three start at (Fort Worth) Texas Motor Speedway, and his first win at Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway.
"I've had my ups and downs on these mile and a half racetracks," adds the 24-year old rookie. "We got our first win on one of them in Chicago, but I also struggled in the spring race at Charlotte. I like this layout a lot. It just seems to take me a little longer to feel them out. That's why we decided to go ahead and test."
Hopefully the results from the test session will foreshadow the results of Saturday's race. Sauter was the fastest of seven drivers testing, including Winston Cup veterans Jeff Green, Jimmy Spencer and Michael Waltrip. That sure left him feeling like he's got an excellent chance.
* Atlanta Motor Speedway is the last racetrack on the Busch Series circuit that the youngest Sauter brother has yet to compete on. In 2001, he spent time in the No. 21 Richard Childress owned Chevrolet completing the last four races of the season, but unfortunately Atlanta was not one of them.
* Team ACDelco will take chassis No. 019 to the Peach State for Saturday's race. This racecar, the same one they took to the test earlier this month, was totally refurbished after it was wrecked at Lowe's Motor Speedway (Concord, N.C.) two weeks ago.
* Start time for Saturday's Aaron's 312 is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 203-lap event on TNT starts at 1:00 p.m., with radio coverage on PRN beginning at 12:30 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.
ACDelco driver Johnny Sauter on Atlanta Motor Speedway
How was your test in Atlanta?
"I think it went real well. We worked on race set-up, mainly concentrating on getting me as many laps around the track as possible. This is the only place I haven't been to with the series, so we wanted to make sure I had some kind of idea what it was like."
What was your first impression of the racetrack?
"Fast. In fact, extremely fast. And I liked that aspect of it. You can mash the pedal down and really get into the corners. The thing is you have to trust your set-up and that the car will stick and not run up into the wall. I think I learned pretty quickly at the test that racing at Atlanta is going to be a lot of fun."
Does it remind you of any other tracks?
"I guess probably Charlotte, if anything. It's got its own grooves and bumps. It's not smooth like Chicago or Kansas. This racetrack has a lot of history behind it and I'm excited to finally get to race on it. Add the fact that we were fast at the test, and I think we've got a chance Saturday."
ACDelco crew chief Rick Viers on Atlanta Motor Speedway
What did you work on at the Atlanta test?
"The main reason we went down to Atlanta was so that Johnny could make some laps. Since it was his first time there, we stayed in race trim the whole time, working on getting him comfortable with different packages. I think everything went well. He seemed happy after all was said and done, and was anxious to get back."