BUSCH: Loudon: Johnny Sauter preview

Johnny on the level at Loudon. May 7, 2002 (Huntersville, N.C.) - It's not easy being a rookie on the NASCAR Busch Series circuit. You are in unfamiliar territory nearly everywhere you go, always trying to get adjusted to new track conditions...

Johnny on the level at Loudon.

May 7, 2002 (Huntersville, N.C.) - It's not easy being a rookie on the NASCAR Busch Series circuit. You are in unfamiliar territory nearly everywhere you go, always trying to get adjusted to new track conditions and the racecar you're piloting.

This weekend in Loudon, N.H., however, Johnny Sauter, driver of the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo, feels a little bit more comfortable than in recent weeks. With the racetrack reconfigured in April to allow for a second racing groove, he believes his chances are a little better heading into Saturday's Busch 200 at New Hampshire International Speedway.

"The nice thing about the racetrack this weekend is that nobody really knows what it's going to be like," Sauter says about the one-mile oval. "It actually puts everyone on more of a level playing field and makes all of us have to learn, or relearn, how to get around the place."

In the past, Loudon had hosted Busch events where passing was rare and the cautions were plenty. With the track widened, it will be interesting to see how drivers and crew chiefs adjust. Crew chief Rick Viers thinks Team ACDelco will have a lot of success at Loudon with it being a racetrack that the blue and white racing machine has done well on in the past.

"We've got a lot of good notes from Loudon," Viers states. "RCR's No. 2 team has run well here in the past and I ran well with Elton here in the No. 98 Car. We'll take the same car we finished third with at (Las) Vegas earlier this season and go from there."

Whatever shape the racetrack may be in, Team ACDelco is hopeful that they can get acclimated to it quickly. Sauter hopes to get that started with a solid qualifying effort Friday afternoon.

* Johnny Sauter and Team ACDelco will test at Nazareth (Pa.) Speedway on Tuesday and Wednesday this week in preparation for next Saturday's Stacker2 200. This will be the first time the 24-year old 2002 Rookie of the Year candidate has laid rubber on the one-mile d-shaped oval.

* The No. 2 ACDelco Racing team will take chassis No. 022 to "The Magic Mile" for this weekend's events. This car was last in action at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March where Sauter scored his career-best finish (third) of the 2002 season.

* Start time for Saturday afternoon's Busch 200 is scheduled for 1:00 PM ET. TV coverage of the 200-lap event on FX starts at 12:30 PM ET with radio coverage on MRN starting at 12:15 PM ET. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.

ACDelco driver Johnny Sauter on New Hampshire International Speedway

What have you heard about New Hampshire International Speedway?
"Not much, unfortunately. We never got a chance to test there so all I know is what I've seen on TV or heard from my brothers. I know the racetrack is relatively flat, and that they repaved it in the corners to make the turns wider. That should help all of us rookies out this weekend because it puts us on a more level playing field with the rest of the drivers."

Are you a big fan of flat tracks?
"Sure, I like flat-tracks. They're probably not my favorite places to race, but I've had a lot of success on them. The thing you have to remember about flat-tracks is that you've got to be good in the corners. If your car won't turn, you're going to struggle all day like I did last Friday in Richmond. We don't want a repeat of that this weekend, I can promise you that."

What do you like about short-track racing?
"All I really know about racing right now is what I've learned on the short-tracks. Racing in the ASA (American Speedway Association) circuit, that's all we competed on and I was very successful at it. I seem to have pretty good luck at tracks I've never been to before, so I'm hoping that will continue. I've got to keep focused and hope that I can adapt quickly to the racetrack."

ACDelco crew chief Rick Viers on New Hampshire International Speedway

Give us your thoughts on New Hampshire International Speedway?
"We are not sure what to expect in Loudon this weekend. With the changes they have made to the racetrack, no one knows how the cars or drivers will react. It would seem to me that the racetrack is still, for all intensive purposes, the same. The distance is the same and the corners are the same. The big differences will probably be more in how the drivers get into and come off of the corners with the added pavement. I just hope the new asphalt doesn't come up."

Position in the Busch Series Driver Points Standing...15th with 1,051 points (431 behind Jason Keller)
Position in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Standings...2nd with 104 points (42 behind Scott Riggs)


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Drivers Jason Keller , Scott Riggs , Johnny Sauter