BUSCH: Charlotte: Johnny Sauter preview

Johnny charged-up for Charlotte. Huntersville, N.C. (May 21, 2002) - ACDelco driver Johnny Sauter is feeling good about his chances in Saturday's CarQuest Auto Parts 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. And why shouldn't he? He ran well on two...

Johnny charged-up for Charlotte.

Huntersville, N.C. (May 21, 2002) - ACDelco driver Johnny Sauter is feeling good about his chances in Saturday's CarQuest Auto Parts 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. And why shouldn't he? He ran well on two similar mile-and-a-half racetracks earlier this season, qualifying third in Fort Worth, Texas, and finishing third in Las Vegas, N.V. The speedway layout seems to fit him well, although he knows Charlotte's tri-oval can be a whole different animal.

"I definitely like the superspeedways," says 24-year old Sauter, "But then I like all the other racetracks as well. I seem to adjust quickly to the bigger tracks like Vegas and Texas, basically just mashing down on the gas pedal and going. From my little experience at Charlotte, though, I know it's going to be a lot tougher place because the track's surface is so rough and it changes with the time of day."

The only seat time Sauter has on the 1.5-mile banked speedway located in Concord, N.C., was in the 2001 fall ARCA event. He drove to an eighth place finish piloting the No. 19 car prepared by Richard Childress Racing for a one-race deal.

"That race was certainly a learning experience," Sauter adds. "That was my first time on a track that big and I know I was way out in left field when I started. It took me a little while to get adjusted, but we were running some good lap times until I smacked a lap car on the frontstretch. That cut a tire and I had to pit, pretty much ended our chances of a win that day."

This weekend will be a true test for the 2002 Rookie candidate to see if he can run as solidly as he has in the past at similar places. Qualifying for the CarQuest Auto Parts 300 will start at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, and Team ACDelco hopes to get things going in the right direction with a solid effort.

* Taking advantage of a Lowe's Motor Speedway test session last Tuesday, Sauter took time to watch his two-race teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. make his way around Lowe's Motor Speedway. He'll be driving the No. 3 Chevrolet Monte Carlo co-owned by RCR and Dale Earnhardt, Inc.

* The No. 2 ACDelco Racing team will take chassis No. 022 for Saturday's race, the same one they ran in Loudon, N.H., two weeks ago and finished third with in Las Vegas. That was Team ACDelco's best finish of the 2002 season and Sauter's career-best Busch Series finish.

* Start time for Saturday's CarQuest Auto Parts 300 is scheduled for 1:00 PM ET. TV coverage of the 200-lap event on FOX starts at 12:30 PM ET with radio coverage on PRN starting at 12:15 PM ET. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings. ACDelco driver Johnny Sauter on Lowe's Motor Speedway

What comes to mind when you think about Lowe's Motor Speedway?
"Home, probably first and foremost. It's nice to be able to sleep in your own bed and still go racing. I know everybody wants to win at that racetrack because it's so close to home for most of them. It's a big one to win, and this team would sure like to be there on Saturday."

What did you take from the ARCA event you participated in at LMS last fall?
"It was definitely good to get some seat time on a superspeedway like Charlotte last year. That was my first time ever on anything that big and I'm pretty sure I was way off in left field at the beginning. We ran decent in the race for what we had as far as equipment. I made a rookie mistake mid-race and hit a lap car, cutting a tire so I had to pit out of sequence. That put us out of sink with the rest of the field and we ended up finishing somewhere in the top-10 I think."

Recently you went to Charlotte to watch Little "E" test, how was that?
"Very interesting. Dale Jr. was very fast, I remember that vividly. The main reason we went was just to watch and see what springs and shocks he was running. We wanted to get an idea of the changes they were making and how the track was adjusting for this weekend."

ACDelco crew chief Rick Viers on Lowe's Motor Speedway

How do you get ready for Saturday's CarQuest Auto Parts 300?
"What we'll probably do is get together with the guys that tested down there from the No. 3 and No. 31 teams and see what kind of information they got. That should get us a good start. This track is unique in itself with its bumps and sensitivity to weather. It puts everything into play, from horsepower to handling to chassis, so we have to make sure we take care of everything for Johnny."


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Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Johnny Sauter
Teams Richard Childress Racing