"Johnny Rocket" fueled for fast Texas. April 2, 2002 (Huntersville, N.C.)- Johnny Sauter's rookie season in the NASCAR Busch Series has been full of firsts, and this weekend will be no different. It will mark the first time that Sauter has...
"Johnny Rocket" fueled for fast Texas.
April 2, 2002 (Huntersville, N.C.)- Johnny Sauter's rookie season in the NASCAR Busch Series has been full of firsts, and this weekend will be no different. It will mark the first time that Sauter has raced at Texas Motor Speedway in Denton County near Fort Worth, Texas. And from the speeds shown in testing, it will probably be the fastest the young ACDelco driver has ever been in a race car as well.
Sauter, the 2001 ASA Champion, has had a roller-coaster start to the season. The high point being a third place finish at Las Vegas in early March, and the low being a 35th place DNF at Bristol just two weeks ago. Through all of the ups and downs, one thing has stayed with Sauter - his confidence. "I know I can be successful at this level," said Sauter. "I have a great team and the best cars in the NASCAR Busch Series. What I don't have is experience at some of these tracks. But I am learning every weekend and we have been competitive every race."
The learning curve just went up this weekend at Texas. A new pavement has pushed speeds into the 190 mph range and drastically moved the groove lower on the track. But the new pavement doesn't concern Sauter a great deal, mainly because he has no knowledge of the old pavement. "I'm sure the new surface is going to be a difficult adjustment for some of the guys who have raced here a lot, " said Sauter. "I know at any track you start to learn the bumps and the best way around. When you re-pave a track, the bumps go away and your marks change. If anything, the change puts me closer to level ground with the veterans as far as experience at the track."
With a test under his belt and strong support from his Richard Childress Racing, ACDelco team, Sauter plans on a strong run this weekend. "I really feel like we are as good as anyone here. I like racing fast tracks and I think this will be the weekend we show how strong this team can be," Sauter said.
* Texas Motor Speedway has been a good track in the past for a driver with the last name of Sauter. Johnny's older brother Jay, won two poles at the track and set the track record for the NASCAR Truck Series. He went on to win the truck series event at TMS in 1999, driving the RCR-GM Goodwrench Chevrolet Silverado.
ACDelco driver Johnny Sauter on Texas Motor Speedway
What are your impressions of Texas Motor Speedway?
"I really like the track. It is just as fast as everyone is saying. You are really hauling the mail, but you can't tell, because it is so smooth. It just feels very forgiving, although I know it won't be if you have a problem."
Your brother Jay won here in the Trucks. Did he give you any advice?
"Yes and no. He has done so well here in the past, that he has talked to me about strategy and how to work with the traffic. He told me how he used to drive the track, but the change to the pavement is new, even for him. The line hasn't changed, but where you let off, if you let off now, has changed. You still want to try to keep it right on the bottom. It just has much more grip. I have a great group for help and support, both in my family and this team."
Every race has been a new track and a new race for you. Texas will be a first as well. How do you think you will do this weekend?
"Wow, that's a tough one. I know from our test that we have as good a car as anyone. We were very fast and the car felt very stable. I think we can have a good run. I expect to be challenging for the win. I felt like I got a great feel for the track and the speed doesn't bother me. But you never really know until everyone gets out there and shows what they have. I know we found some things during the test that will help this weekend, and I'm sure other team said as well. I think we are going to be strong."