BUSCH: Nashville II: Johnny Sauter preview

Returning to familiar territory. HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (June 4, 2002) - The thought of returning to Nashville (T.N.) Superspeedway for the second time this season brings jubilation to 2002 NASCAR Busch Series rookie driver Johnny Sauter. So far...

Returning to familiar territory.

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (June 4, 2002) - The thought of returning to Nashville (T.N.) Superspeedway for the second time this season brings jubilation to 2002 NASCAR Busch Series rookie driver Johnny Sauter. So far this season, he's been to 14 racetracks, 11 of which he had never seen before arriving for the first practice session. Revisiting the 1.3-mile racetrack just north of Music City makes for a totally different weekend of racing according to Sauter.

"We ran well at Nashville earlier this season and I think our chances will be even better this time around," says Sauter. "We learned some things that I think will help like pit strategy and tire wear, and I learned a lot about the how smooth the track's surface is. It's nice to be able to look ahead to a race and have some idea of what the track is going to be like."

Getting around Nashville's two-year old superspeedway should be exciting for the 24-year old from Necedah, W.I. In his April visit to the concrete tri-oval, he started 24th and worked his way through the field and seven cautions to finish 12th. A brush with the No. 33 car in the late stages kept the blue and white racing machine from its second top-10 of the season.

"When the No. 33 car blew up in front of us, I couldn't avoid hitting him," explains Sauter. "The contact tightened up the car on the last run and made it tougher to get by cars. Recently I have struggled, but most of my struggles have been at tracks I've never even seen before. Since we've been to Nashville and know how to get around, I think I'll have an easier time and more to gain."

An easy time is what Team ACDelco would like to have when they hit familiar territory for the first time this season on Friday for qualifying. They know that won't be the case, but look for them to give it their best in hopes of coming away with their first victory in 2002.

* The home of country music has been good to the youngest Sauter brother when it comes to the American Speedway Association (ASA) circuit. In his last two trips, he collected a win at Nashville Speedway and accepted Rookie-of-the-Year and Championship trophies at Opryland.

* Team ACDelco will take chassis No. 014 to Nashville for Saturday's race, the same one they ran at this racetrack earlier in the season. This chassis was last in action at Nazareth Speedway where Sauter sped to an 11th place finish after starting 18th due to a washed out qualifying.

* Start time for Saturday's Inside Traxx 300 is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 225-lap event on FX starts at 8:00 p.m. with radio coverage on MRN starting at 8:00 p.m. as well. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings. ACDelco driver Johnny Sauter on Nashville Superspeedway

How was your first visit to Nashville Superspeedway? "I think we had a top-five car for sure, but our pit strategy didn't work out the way we wanted it. We took four tires on the last stop when most teams took two. The long stop dropped us back for the restart and we didn't have enough time to work our way back to the front. This time I think we'll be smarter in making those calls."

What can you take away from your first race?

"We found out that you can take no tires and still win the race. The last stop we took four tires thinking it was the best thing to do, but looking back we probably would've been alright not taking any. That's one of those calls that comes from experience and we didn't have that heading into the last race. We do this time, which will be a big help."

What will it be like racing at night?

"It shouldn't be much different than how we raced earlier this season. The track will probably tighten up a little bit when the sun goes down, so we'll have to adjust the chassis accordingly. Other than that, it's just a matter of getting used to the lights around the racetrack. I don't think it will cause any problems."

ACDelco crew chief Rick Viers on Nashville Superspeedway

What concerns you most about returning to Nashville?

"To tell you the truth, we don't have any concerns about Nashville. In fact, I think we had a chance to win that race, but we took four tires, which was the thing to do, and it cost us valuable position on the restart. The car that won didn't take any tires. If we'd have done that, we might have won the thing. Right now, we are just taking this season one race at a time. We have a great race car driver and a great team. We are not changing a thing on the car heading into the weekend."


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Drivers Johnny Sauter