BUSCH: Nazareth: Johnny Sauter preview

Getting to know Nazareth Speedway. May 15, 2002 (Huntersville, N.C.) - For a rookie driver in the NASCAR Busch Series, one of the best ways to prepare for an upcoming event is to take time to test for it. Teams with rookies at the helm have 10...

Getting to know Nazareth Speedway.

May 15, 2002 (Huntersville, N.C.) - For a rookie driver in the NASCAR Busch Series, one of the best ways to prepare for an upcoming event is to take time to test for it. Teams with rookies at the helm have 10 opportunities to make an extra visit to a racetrack, and Team ACDelco chose Nazareth Speedway as one to prepare for this weekend's Stacker2 200.

"We decided to test at Nazareth because everyone said this was one of the toughest tracks we visit all season", states Sauter. "It's odd d-shape makes it difficult to get a handle on, so we thought it would be a good idea to go ahead and give me some extra time on it."

Throughout the two-day test session last week, crew chief Rick Viers took Sauter through a series of long runs to give him a good feel for the one-mile flatrack. Team ACDelco finished off the session with some qualifying runs to get a jump on the field heading into this Sunday's race.

"I think the test last week went well," Viers says. "Johnny was able to get very comfortable in the car on long runs, which was our main focus heading into it. This racetrack is very tough because it's got three different corners you have to learn to feel out. With the extra practice time, we should be in good shape for qualifying and the race."

Going into this weekend, Sauter sits 15th in the driver points standings, poised to make a run at the top-10. Hopefully he can get things started in that direction when he returns to Nazareth for his first race there.

Qualifying for the Stacker2 200 gets underway on Saturday from Nazareth. Look for the 2002 Rookie of the Year candidate to make some noise early as he gets to know Nazareth Speedway.

* During the test session last Tuesday and Wednesday, the youngest Sauter brother logged over 275 laps on Nazareth Speedway. Most of it was spent in race trim getting adjusted to the flat race surface and d-shaped oval.

* The No. 2 ACDelco Racing team will take chassis No. 014 to Nazareth, the same one they tested with last week. This chassis was last in action earlier this season at Nashville Superspeedway where Sauter started 24th and finished 12th.

* Start time for Sunday afternoon's Stacker2 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 Nazareth Speedway

Prior to the test, what did you know about Nazareth Speedway?
"To tell you the truth, I hadn't really paid any attention to it before last week. I never asked anybody about it because it wasn't a track I had ever had to be concerned with before. I had heard that it was a difficult racetrack to get around, though."

What did you learn from your test?
"Basically I just got aquatinted with the racetrack and the best way to get around it. It's not easy, I can tell you that. The corners seem to last forever and it feels like I'm always turning. We went through a lot of spring and shock packages to find what worked best. The test did give me a good idea of where to run on the racetrack, although I'm not sure how the car will react in traffic."

How much will the test help going into this Sunday's Stacker2 200?
"I think a lot. The fact that we logged a bunch of miles on the racetrack in race mode will eliminate us from having to focus on that when we get there on Saturday. Instead, we can go directly into qualifying mode and make sure that we get a good spot to start the race."

ACDelco crew chief Rick Viers on Nazareth Speedway

What will be your strategy heading into Sunday's Stacker2 200?
"We'll focus on qualifying runs early because we already have a lot of good information on long runs from the test. Hopefully, we'll be able to put ourselves in a good spot for qualifying. Then we'll just have to see what happens. This place is tricky because traffic is usually horrible and wrecks can happen at any time. We need to keep on our toes and be ready to adapt for anything."

Position in the 2002 Driver Points Standing...15th with 1,151 points (462 behind Jack Sprague)

Position in the 2002 Rookie of the Year Standings...3rd with 111 points (49 behind Scott Riggs)


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Drivers Jack Sprague , Scott Riggs , Johnny Sauter