BUSCH: Elton Sawyer manages sixth in points despite setbacks

Elton Sawyer ended the 2000 Busch Series season wondering exactly what he had to do to get ahead -- or perhaps pondering where the consistency he enjoyed in the mid-season went early and late. Like everyone else on the circuit, Sawyer was ...

Elton Sawyer ended the 2000 Busch Series season wondering exactly what he had to do to get ahead -- or perhaps pondering where the consistency he enjoyed in the mid-season went early and late.

Like everyone else on the circuit, Sawyer was unable to keep pace with champion Jeff Green's season-long onslaught. By the time Sawyer finished 34th in the 11th race of the season, at Richmond International Raceway, he was 10th in the standings. From there he ran off eight consecutive top-10 finishes, culminating in a second at Nazareth Speedway on July 16. He was suddenly fifth in the points.

In the final 13 races of the 32-event season, however, Sawyer was only able to garner four more top-10s. Therefore, Akins Motorsports' driver will be honored for sixth position in the standings at the circuit's banquet Friday night in Beverly Hills, Calif.

The 2001 season will be Sawyer's 19th in a row with at least one start, a span in which he has competed in 356 races.

Sawyer made all 32 races last season with five top-5 and 14 top-10 finishes. He was unable to back up the single victory he got for Akins in 1999, when he matched his career-best fifth in the point standings, but he was enthused nonetheless.

"If I knew I could come into the 2001 season with stats like that I would be one happy camper," Sawyer said of the performance of his crew, led by chief mechanic Rick Viers. "We have every intention of being a contender for that championship, I can tell you that."

While Akins Motorsports will be able to draw some data from a second team, using driver Christian Elder for a limited series of races, Sawyer also cited the growth of the "Ford family" in the Busch Series. Leading that charge is ppc Racing with drivers Jeff Green and Jason Keller switching to Tauruses for 2001.

"We have a new engine program with Cosworth that we are looking forward to," Sawyer said. "Rick and I have our communication down pretty well and we have had some wind tunnel time to get our car bodies right. We are testing at Daytona, then Las Vegas at the end of the month before we go to Atlanta right before we hit Daytona, so we feel like we'll be ready."

-nascar.com

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jason Keller , Jeff Green , Elton Sawyer , Christian Elder