Conquering Chicagoland Speedway. HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 9, 2002) - Just when 2002 ACDelco driver Johnny Sauter was starting to feel comfortable on some of NASCAR's famous racetracks, the NASCAR Busch Series throws a wrench in the mix by...
Conquering Chicagoland Speedway.
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 9, 2002) - Just when 2002 ACDelco driver Johnny Sauter was starting to feel comfortable on some of NASCAR's famous racetracks, the NASCAR Busch Series throws a wrench in the mix by hitting a venue Sauter has not seen. The circuit meets at Chicagoland Speedway this week for Saturday's Tropicana Twister 300.
"It's funny," the 2002 rookie-of-the-year candidate says, "I was beginning to feel good about some of these racetracks and here we go to someplace I've never even seen. I'm not as worried as I was at the beginning of the season. It's getting easier to get adjusted to these new tracks."
Sauter doesn't need to be worried. After all, this weekend's event will only be the second Busch Series race held at the 1.5-mile speedway. That puts the 24-year old Wisconsin native on more of a level playing field with the rest of the drivers, something he doesn't mind at all.
"It's definitely nice to know that no one has a ton of experience there," adds Sauter. "All these mile-and-a-half tracks we visit seem to have a lot in common. Hopefully, I'll be able to get a feel for this place pretty quickly."
Conquering Chicagoland will be a daunting task, but he'll have plenty of help. Crew chief Rick Viers finished eighth with Elton Sawyer in the inaugural event at the tri-oval. "I learned a lot about track position when I was there with Elton," he states. "We could have been better after seeing the eventual winner hold off the field on old tires. I won't make that mistake this time."
Qualifying for the 300-miler is slated for Friday afternoon. Team ACDelco will do their best to dominate and put the blue and white racing machine on top for the second time this season.
* With his sixth place performance at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway last Friday night, Sauter has put himself back in the hunt for the NASCAR Busch Series driver points championship. Right now he sits 16th, picking up five spots in the last two races.
* The No. 2 ACDelco Racing team will take chassis No. 010 to the Windy City for this weekend's events. Basically a brand new car, this is the same one Sauter wrecked at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in March. It has been totally refurbished and is ready for action.
* Start time for Saturday's Tropicana Twister 300 is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 200-lap event on NBC starts at 3:30 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN starting at 3:00 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.
ACDelco driver Johnny Sauter on Chicagoland Speedway
What is everyone saying about Chicago?
"I haven't heard too much from anyone on what kind of racetrack Chicago is like. I know it's probably similar to most of the mile-and-a-half tracks we visit. Some of the guys in the shop say it's a lot like Las Vegas (N.V.) or Kentucky. I ran well at both those tracks, so I don't think I'll have too much trouble."
What are you most concerned with?
"Probably qualifying up front. Since I've never been there before, we'll probably start things off in race trim. Ricky said that track position is important, so I would imagine we'll work on qualifying set-up once I get comfortable."
Talk about your first half of the 2002 season.
"It's not what we envisioned, but I think things are definitely getting better. I wanted to have won a few races and be in the top-10 right now, but some bad wrecks have prevented that. We are coming off a great run in Daytona, and I really think we are going to turn things around the second half of the season. We know what we need to do, be competitive and finish up front, and I think we are capable of that. We just need to stay focused and make that happen."
ACDelco crew chief Rick Viers on Chicagoland Speedway
What do you find most important about Chicago?
"The first thing will probably be getting Johnny comfortable in the racecar. We'll start practice in race trim, then switch to qualifying to get him a good starting position for the race. We've learned he gains a lot of confidence when he qualifies well. I also think track position will be important. We all watched last year as the winner stayed out with old tires and held off the field to win."