Colorado perfection. HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 23, 2002) - ACDelco driver Johnny Sauter vividly remembers his first trip to Pikes Peak International Raceway. He was 20. It was his first time on a one-mile oval, in his third of four races...
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 23, 2002) - ACDelco driver Johnny Sauter vividly remembers his first trip to Pikes Peak International Raceway. He was 20. It was his first time on a one-mile oval, in his third of four races with the American Speedway Association (ASA) in 1998. He qualified 15th, and was in contention to win until a miscue on the final restart proved costly. He wound up third, with regrets he let a chance to win slip by.
"I should've won that race," the 24-year old Sauter recalls. "That was only the third year of my racing career, and I had never been to a place that big. We had a good car, and I knew I had a chance to win. On the restart with 10 laps to go, I missed a shift. That dropped me to fourth, but I was able to pick a spot back up before it was all over."
Now, four years later, Sauter returns to Fountain, Col., with the NASCAR Busch Series for the NetZero 250. With a win under his belt and momentum Team ACDelco has accumulated over the last four races, his chances of grabbing his second victory are only a miscue away.
"As long as we don't make any mistakes," adds Sauter, "I know we will be up front in contention to win in the final laps. This team has been so good with their pit stops, and we have been on such a roll since Milwaukee (Wis.). I let the race slip away my first time in Colorado by a mistake on my part. I'm not going to let that happen again."
Sauter and Team ACDelco know that in order to conquer Pikes Peak, it will take perfection throughout the race weekend. Their first opportunity for that will be qualifying on Friday afternoon, where they will shoot for their second pole position of the 2002 season.
* With his 11th place finish last Saturday at Gateway International Raceway, Sauter collected his fourth top-12 finish in as many races and also received rookie-of-the-race honors for the third consecutive time. He trails only Scott Riggs in the 2002 rookie-of-the-year standings, 60 points shy of taking over the lead.
* Team ACDelco will take chassis No. 010 to the highest racetrack, in terms of elevation, on the circuit for this weekend's events. This is the same car that the team won their first Busch race with at Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway two week's ago in the Tropicana Twister 300.
* Start time for Saturday's NetZero 250 is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 250-lap event on NBC starts at 3:30 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 3:00 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.
ACDelco driver Johnny Sauter on Pikes Peak International Raceway
Ever been to Pikes Peak International Raceway?
"Just once with the ASA circuit in 1998. It was my first season with the series and I had never been to a racetrack that big before. I finished third, and had a chance to win until I missed a shift on the final restart. It was very exciting for my first time at someplace like that."
What do you think of the racetrack? #"It's been four years since I've been there, so I'm hoping it hasn't changed that much. I remember it being very smooth and wide open, which allowed for areas to pass. I really liked going there. It was a nice change of scenery and felt good to get away for a little while."
What has the win done to your confidence?
"Obviously the whole team, including myself, has benefited from the win. We were coming off a disappointing start to the season. When we hit Milwaukee, things started to turn around. I think everyone saw it coming. I know I've got the equipment, all I needed was some time to get adjusted. Once I do that, I feel I have a chance to win almost anywhere we go."
ACDelco crew chief Rick Viers on Pikes Peak International Raceway
What kind of racetrack is Pikes Peak International Raceway?
"This racetrack's wide surface gives cars plenty of room to pass. Johnny drove an ASA car there in 1998 and finished third, and our teammates in the No. 21 car won there last year. It's a place where anything can happen, so we just have to see how the cautions fall and race the racetrack. I expect at least a top-five finish, if not better."