Joliet, Ill. - Johnny Sauter hung on for his first NASCAR Busch Series victory today at Chicagoland Speedway's Tropicana Twister 300. A late red flag significantly tightened the pack with five laps to go and eliminated the 2.7 second lead that ...
Joliet, Ill. - Johnny Sauter hung on for his first NASCAR Busch Series victory today at Chicagoland Speedway's Tropicana Twister 300. A late red flag significantly tightened the pack with five laps to go and eliminated the 2.7 second lead that Sauter had developed over Joe Nemechek and the rest of the field.
Pole-sitter Todd Bodine finished second, followed by Jeff Burton in third. Bodine was seven seconds back before the restart and Burton was behind Sauter by 27 seconds. Sauter stayed out in front, though, and crossed the line for the checkered flag .420 seconds ahead of Bodine. Nemechek, who won last week at Daytona, finished in fourth position after being run down by a Burton car with newly fresh tires at the restart.
Sauter took the checkered flag and burnout privileges to prove it, even despite some doubters' opinions of his fuel situation. "I really don't feel like it was a fuel mileage win. I feel like we had one of the best cars. We stuck to our guns and our game plan as far as pit stops and how many laps we could go."
Sauter's victory came in his 23rd Busch Series start, and he becomes the first of the three Busch-regular Sauter brothers to tally a victory in the circuit. Johnny's brother Tim finished 34th after engine troubles ended his day on Lap #78. Jay Sauter did not drive in today's race. Johnny Sauter was the 2001 American Speed Association champion.
Lap #98 was Sauter's first led, and he went on to lead 48, including the last twenty. In total, five drivers accounted for nine lead changes. Burton took the five-point bonus for most laps led with 65.
Rookie point leader Scott Riggs and Burton exchanged the lead three times in the first half of the race before Riggs fell off after a caution. Riggs' day ended when he hit the backstretch wall on the on lap 125. He experienced right rib pain following the wreck and was transported to Provena St. Joseph's Medical Center in Joliet, but he was released after chest X-rays showed negative results. Riggs was the best rookie in qualifying for the fourth straight race (he started second today) and still leads the Busch rookies in the points standings.
In total, there were eight caution periods for 33 laps including a four car spin in Turn 2 during Lap #103. The red flag was brought out on Lap #195 after rookie driver Kasey Kahne hit the wall in Turn 4. It has recently become an unwritten NASCAR policy to red flag a race in the late goings to assure a green flag finish.
Points leader Greg Biffle finished a lap down, but still gained eight points over second place driver Jason Keller. Biffle finished in the eighth position, even after briefly overshooting his pit stall during a stop on Lap #168; seven cars finished on the lead lap. He ran his car in the top ten after the first quarter of the race, recovering quickly from a start from the rear of the pack. He was forced to drop to the back due to engine trouble Friday after qualifying that required his team to replace the motor in his Ford. It was announced today that Biffle and his Jack Roush Racing Grainger Ford will compete in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series next season.
The #92 Excedrin Chevrolet that Todd Bodine drove to second place was the same car that current Winston Cup rookie of the year candidate Jimmie Johnson took into victory lane at last year's Chicago Busch Series race. "Start first, finish second," Bodine said. "Can't complain."