LAS VEGAS, NV (March 2, 2002) - Tim Sauter and his No. 19 AP Performance Racing Team posted their best effort of the season rolling to a 17th-place finish in the Sam's Town 300 NASCAR Busch Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway ...
LAS VEGAS, NV (March 2, 2002) - Tim Sauter and his No. 19 AP Performance Racing Team posted their best effort of the season rolling to a 17th-place finish in the Sam's Town 300 NASCAR Busch Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Saturday.
"Everybody did a great job," said Sauter afterward. "It felt great to be running up there with the best teams in the series. For the first time this year, we absolutely were a Top-10 car and that feels great."
Sauter started the third race of the season from the 26th position after turning in a qualifying lap of 165.792 miles per hour (32.571 seconds) Friday. It was evident after the start of the race, however, that the Necedah, WI driver had one of the fastest cars on the track.
Sauter quickly knifed his unsponsored Chevrolet Monte Carlo into the Top-20 in a handful of laps and broke into the Top-10 for the first time this season on Lap 81. Sauter's AP Performance Racing pit crew kept him in the hunt with a lightning-fast 17.2 second pit stop on the 90th circuit.
Sauter continued to run with the leaders before again heading toward pit road for his final stop for tires and fuel on Lap 156. Like a week ago at Rockingham, NC, Sauter's mount sputtered out of fuel as he rolled on to pit road. Unlike last week's result where it took three laps to get the car refired, Sauter's crew was ready this time returning him to action without incident.
"We were hitting our rev chip a lot and I think that had an effect on our gas mileage," explained Sauter, "You're going to have these problems with a new team. I expect us to learn, but not to be perfect. The different pit strategies probably cost us more than running out of gas."
Now 27th in the running order with 40 laps to go Sauter roared through the field passing the third and fourth place cars in the final laps. Clearly one of the top cars on the track at the finish, Sauter and his AP team had to be satisfied knowing their effort was far better than the 17th-place finish on the final rundown sheet.
Sauter collected $21,460 in prize money and jumped six positions in the Busch Series championship point standings. Now 24th after three events with 273 points, Sauter is just 81 markers out of the Top-10 and 173 out of first in the title chase.
"We are staring to feel like a team and which takes some of the pressure off the guys," said Sauter of his new teammates. "We now have dinner together the night before every race and hold team meetings on race morning. We're communicating much better. This finish is a shot in the arm for the guys because we saw how good we can be. That's just what me need heading to a track like Darlington."
Sauter and his AP Performance Racing team will return to action Saturday, March 16 at Darlington Raceway. The DarlingtonRaceway.com 200 will take the green flag at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and will be telecast live on FX. MRN Radio will also broadcast the race live to more than 300 stations worldwide.