BUSCH: Fontana: Johnny Sauter preview

Looking for the Checkered Flag in California. April 23, 2002 (Huntersville, N.C.) - What happened in last Saturday's Aaron's 312 at Talladega Superspeedway is already behind Team ACDelco. They know it's been a roller coaster season thus far and...

Looking for the Checkered Flag in California.

April 23, 2002 (Huntersville, N.C.) - What happened in last Saturday's Aaron's 312 at Talladega Superspeedway is already behind Team ACDelco. They know it's been a roller coaster season thus far and the one positive they took out of the whole thing was that they grabbed their first pole position. Now, it's time to move on, and what a better way to do that than to take a trip to California.

"We can't do anything about what happened last weekend," says Sauter. "We were where we wanted to be, but still got caught up in the big one. So, we look ahead to California. I've never been to the speedway, but I hear the layout is nice. It's a pretty flat racetrack, I know that much. Everyone says it's real similar to Texas and Las Vegas as far as set-ups."

California Speedway is known for its long green flag runs. In the last Busch event held at the two-mile d-shaped oval, there were only two caution flags for eight laps. This is something crew chief Ricky Viers has taken into consideration in figuring out his strategy for Saturday's race.

"This weekend's race will probably come down to smart pit strategy," Viers states. "We used that to our advantage earlier this season in Las Vegas and got our best finish. The key is to have consistent pit stops and stay aware of what's going on. As long as we have a good set-up to start the race, we should be able to keep Johnny up front and in contention for the win."

Sauter and his No. 2 ACDelco Chevy hit the track for the first time on Friday morning for the team's first practice. They would love to see back to back pole positions, but will settle for being at the front of the field looking at the checkered flag for the first time this season.

* Johnny Sauter took home his first Bud Pole Award last Thursday at Talladega Superspeedway with only eight laps around the track under his belt. Competing in his 13th Busch Series event, his lap time of 50.730-seconds was over three-tenths faster than the second place qualifier.

* The No. 2 ACDelco Racing team will take chassis No. 002 to Fontana, CA for this weekend's events at California Speedway. This car, the first one ever built for RCR's Busch program, finished fifteenth at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this season.

* Start time for Saturday's Auto Club 300 is scheduled for 4 PM ET. TV coverage of the 150-lap event on FOX will begin at 3:30 PM ET with radio coverage on MRN starting at 3 PM ET. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings. ACDelco driver Johnny Sauter on California Speedway

Have you ever been to California before?
"I've only been to California once. It was last year with the American Speedway Association circuit. We were racing at Irwindale Speedway and I started third. We were running second and were good all day until I blew a right front tire and ran into the outside wall. That pretty much ended my day."

What do you know about California Speedway?
"Not much really. I haven't been there before, so I'm not sure what to expect. I've heard it's a wide-open racetrack with plenty of room for passing. Everyone tells me it's a lot like Texas, Las Vegas, and Michigan. The only thing that concerns me is that I have a tendency to overdrive the corners on flat tracks. This week I'll get on my computer and go around it a few times to see if I can get a feel for it."

How are you feeling after Saturday's wild ride?
"I'm definitely sore. I didn't think I would be, but Sunday a bunch of bruises started showing up on my left side where I got the brunt of it. I'm O.K. to drive, though, and am actually looking forward to getting back in the racecar. That was a wild ride I took, but I don't want to be doing it again any time soon."

ACDelco crew chief Ricky Viers on California Speedway

How will you prepare Johnny for Saturday's Auto Club 300?
"California's set-up is a lot like Las Vegas so we'll start off by getting Johnny familiar with the racetrack and how the car handles there. During the first practice, we'll concentrate on race set-up most of the time and use our teammate's qualifying set-up. As far as racing, track position will be key here. There usually aren't a lot of cautions so we'll need to be mindful of pit strategy and just see how the race plays out."


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Drivers Johnny Sauter