DAYTONA BEACH, FL (January 22, 2002) - Tim Sauter and his AP Performance Racing Team had a truckload of questions entering the NASCAR Busch Series pre-season test at Daytona International Speedway. After two days of trial and error, Sauter felt...
DAYTONA BEACH, FL (January 22, 2002) - Tim Sauter and his AP Performance Racing Team had a truckload of questions entering the NASCAR Busch Series pre-season test at Daytona International Speedway. After two days of trial and error, Sauter felt like the team had found plenty of answers.
"We came to the test just looking to get comfortable with the new cars," stated Sauter. "We wanted to draw a comparison between our primary and back-up car. We spent the entire first day of the test working on both of them and then concentrated on the primary car the second day. Based on the results, we think we found some things. I think our chances of running well will be pretty good when we come back for the race next month."
The high point of the two-day, four-session test for Sauter came in Tuesday's morning practice when he wheeled his Chevrolet Monte Carlo to the second-fastest speed of the session - a 49.251-second lap (182.737 miles per hour) around the 2.5-mile Daytona oval. Sauter was fourth on the final practice sheet at 49.505 and did not participate in the final drafting session of the test where speeds were aerodynamically aided.
"We picked up quite a bit - we found a bunch of speed with two simple changes," said Sauter. "We made one minor change and that gave us two tenths of a second right away and then got three-tenths on the next change. We tried a bunch of stuff and finally, a couple of things hit. Both of our top laps were clean laps, not aided by the draft, so things are looking pretty good right now."
Monday's two sessions saw the Necedah, WI driver post a 49.715 time, good enough for 16th on the final daily rundown. According to Sauter, testing at Daytona presents a host of different challenges for the person in the cockpit.
"For the driver, you just run the line here and the rest is all car," said Sauter. "It's all about horsepower and aerodynamics. The only thing the driver has to do is hit his marks. There's no changing the line here to make the car faster. There's only one quick way around. At first, it takes a little to get used to the speed. After awhile, it gets boring for the driver. It's still fun because it's good to be back at the racetrack."
Sauter and his AP Performance team will have to be on their game when they return for the EAS/GNC Live Well 300 in February. New to the Busch Series this season, the team will not have any provisional starting positions available and will have to make the race on time. Given the competition level in the series, Sauter knows his unsponsored team will need to get out of the blocks fast in the season-opening event.
"This is a big challenge that we've taken on and to be in the ballpark with a good test is all we can ask for at this point," said Sauter. "I knew we'd have a good racecar here. This car has a good track record and has a reputation of drafting well at Daytona. It's the same car Matt Kenseth drove here last year finishing third in the 300.
"A lot of people don't remember that I qualified seventh and finished 10th here last year," Sauter continued. "They pretty much remember your last race and that's about it. We want to get off to a good start at Daytona and build from there. That will be good for us in terms of finding a sponsor and good for the morale of the team. A great run at Daytona would give our entire team a big boost and after the test, we're confident we can accomplish that."
Sauter and his AP Performance Racing team will take the green flag at Daytona in the EAS/GNC Live Well 300 Saturday, February 16 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time. The event will be telecast live on NBC. MRN Radio will broadcast the race worldwide on more than 300 affiliated stations.