A Charlotte Showdown HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (October 8, 2002) - Lowe's Motor Speedway got lucky the first time Johnny Sauter, driver of the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet, visited it's hallowed grounds. Coming off two nasty wrecks in Talladega, Ala., ...
A Charlotte Showdown
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (October 8, 2002) - Lowe's Motor Speedway got lucky the first time Johnny Sauter, driver of the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet, visited it's hallowed grounds. Coming off two nasty wrecks in Talladega, Ala., and Fontana, Calif., he made one of the most difficult decisions a driver has to make - taking himself out of the car. It wasn't in his blood to be a spectator, but he was not up to speed and decided it was in his best interest to see a doctor.
"I just wasn't comfortable in the car," recalls the 24-year old rookie. "I had two different accidents at Talladega and California, and I felt like my equilibrium was a little off. Richard (Childress), Will (Lind) and I got together the morning of the race, and we decided I should go see a doctor to make sure everything was okay. Nobody wanted to have to make that decision, but we did and that's just a part of being safe in this business."
Taking himself out of the car, even though it crushed him, was probably a smart move for Sauter. He regained his focus, grabbed his first win, and feels the experience he's generated over the last five months only adds fuel to his fire.
"I definitely think I'm okay now," adds Sauter. "It's funny when you look back on those things and wonder if you really were messed up. It definitely took me some time to get back a general feel in the racecar. What I do know is that we've been competitive a bunch of times since then, and hopefully we'll be that way this weekend."
The showdown between Sauter and the 1.5-mile high-banked speedway is set for Saturday, October 12th. It should be a good one, with the true rookie hungrier than ever to conquer the only track on the circuit that has been able to elude him this season.
* Team ACDelco borrowed Johnny's brother and Busch Series teammate Jay Sauter for the spring race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, and what a good move that turned out to be. Sauter ripped through the field from the back of the pack and brought home a ninth-place finish.
* The No. 2 ACDelco Racing team will take chassis No. 019 to do battle in Concord, N.C. This car, totally rebuilt, is the same one that ran through Mike Harmon's mangled car at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in August.
* Start time for Saturday's Little Trees 300 is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 200-lap event on TNT starts at 1:00 p.m., with radio coverage on PRN beginning at 12:15 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.
ACDelco driver Johnny Sauter on Lowe's Motor Speedway
Are you anxious to return to LMS? "I think so. It's weird, but I feel like I have a different kind of relationship with that racetrack than I do anywhere else. It's like I have something to prove because of what happened in the spring, which only makes me want to go back more."
How difficult was it to sit out the spring race? "That probably, no definitely, was the hardest thing I've ever had to do in racing. There was a reason for it, though, and the way I see it, everything happens for a reason. I've just got to live with that. And who better than my brother to take over for me in that situation."
What did you do with your weekend off? "Actually, I had a very busy off-weekend. I went up to Wisconsin and competed in two events (REMAX and Wisconsin Late Model) at LaCrosse (Wis.) Fairgrounds Speedways. I can't tell you how great it felt just to get into these cars and not worry about anything but trying to win. It was a lot of fun. I led both races at one point, and finished in the top-10 in both."
ACDelco crew chief Rick Viers on Lowe's Motor Speedway
What's your strategy for Charlotte? "What we'll concentrate on first is getting Johnny comfortable in the racecar. This track is not an easy one to figure out, with its bumps and sensitivity to weather. We know from Johnny not participating in this race in the spring that it's going to take some time, but this team will bust their butts to get him adjusted so we have a chance come Saturday."
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