BUSCH: Madison: Johnny Sauter preview

BUSCH: Madison: Johnny Sauter preview
Jul 18, 2002, 12:40 AM

ACDelco the key to Gateway. HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 16, 2002) - Let's face it. ACDelco, as a sponsor, knows how to win at Gateway (Madison, Ill.) International Raceway. In the five NASCAR Busch Series events held at the 1.25-mile egg-shaped ...

ACDelco the key to Gateway.

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (July 16, 2002) - Let's face it. ACDelco, as a sponsor, knows how to win at Gateway (Madison, Ill.) International Raceway. In the five NASCAR Busch Series events held at the 1.25-mile egg-shaped oval, the 28-year old division of General Motors Service Parts Operations has seen the checkered flag four times. That's something Johnny Sauter, this year's driver of the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo, likes to hear.

"I guess this car knows how to win in St. Louis," says Sauter, coming off his first NASCAR Busch Series win in the Tropicana Twister 300 at Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway. "This just shows what you can do when you have solid ACDelco parts underneath the hood. To have them in Victory Lane four times, and this car the last two times, is something special."

No matter who is in the driver's seat or who owns the car, the blue and white racing machine seems to come out on top. Dale Earnhardt Jr. first did it with back-to-back wins in 1998 and 1999 driving the Dale Earnhardt, Inc. owned No. 3 Chevy. Kevin Harvick followed that with back-to-back victories in 2000 and 2001 driving the Richard Childress Racing owned No. 2 Chevy.

"History is definitely on our side," Sauter adds, "And so is momentum. It's been building since our strong run in Milwaukee (Wis.). It continued at Daytona (Fla.), where I thought we had the car to beat. Then, last weekend it all came together and we got our first win. It was huge for this team after the way the season's been going. I just hope it continues this weekend."

If Gateway has a lock to get into its Victory Lane, then Sauter will have the key in his grasp Saturday night. First things first, a solid qualifying effort Friday afternoon. Once he gets through that, he'll attempt to put ACDelco in Victory Lane for the fifth consecutive time.

* Sauter's first win of the season last Saturday in Joliet, Ill., leapfrogged him two positions to 14th in the driver's points standings. In the past three races, he's picked up a total of seven spots and sits 265 points outside the top-10. He also moved back to second in the rookie points standings.

* The No. 2 ACDelco Racing team will take chassis No. 014 to Madison, Ill., for this weekend's events. This is the same car the team raced at The Milwaukee Mile in June where Sauter finished 12th. The only change made was to the angle of the driver's seat inside the roll cage.

* Start time for Saturday night's Charter Pipeline 250 is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 200-lap event on TNT starts at 8:00 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN starting at 7:30 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings. ACDelco driver Johnny Sauter on Gateway International Raceway

What are your chances at Gateway? "I think they're good; but I go into every race thinking my chances are good. Obviously we have a lot of momentum heading into this race, with our win last week in Chicago and great run at Daytona, which will help us out a lot. The fact that this car and our sponsor have been to Victory Lane there says a lot. I think with all that in our favor, we'll be in good shape heading into it."

Heard anything about the racetrack? "No, not much, so I'm not sure what to expect. I've heard that the track is very flat, like Milwaukee. As far as I know, we'll take a similar set-up to that and what they ran last year at Gateway when they won. A combination of those should get us off to a good start."

Is it nice to have history on your side? "Yeah, but it's hard to say that we really have that. The cars are so different every year and every driver likes different adaptations to them. The nice thing is that we have a lot of good information from the wins that we can look back on. I would definitely like to think that driving the ACDelco Chevrolet will help us out. It comes down to me and this team giving our best."

ACDelco crew chief Rick Viers on Gateway International Raceway

How will you prepare for St. Louis? "St. Louis is a flat, fast racetrack where track position is once again very important. Obviously this car has done well there in the past, so we'll have some good notes to start from as far as springs and shocks. We'll start Friday in race trim getting Johnny adjusted to the different corners. Once he's comfortable, we'll switch to qualifying and go from there."


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