All in a year's work. HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (September 3, 2002) - It is amazing to see what some people can do in a year. Johnny Sauter, driver of the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo, has to step back every time he thinks about what he's been...
All in a year's work.
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (September 3, 2002) - It is amazing to see what some people can do in a year. Johnny Sauter, driver of the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo, has to step back every time he thinks about what he's been able to accomplish since he jumped in a NASCAR Busch Series car for the first time at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway one year ago.
Already having a stellar season on the American Speed Association (ASA) ACDelco Series circuit, Sauter got the call from Richard Childress to drive his No. 21 entry in the fall Busch event at the .75-mile tri-oval. In his first-career start, he qualified 23rd and went on to finish an astonishing fifth. He followed that with impressive runs in the final four races of the season, all the while winning the ASA rookie-of-the-year honors and the overall championship.
The 2002 Busch Series season has been a roller-coaster ride for Sauter, with many highlights including his Bud pole at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and a win at Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway. It's been wild, the 24-year old admits, but he wouldn't give it up for anything.
"It's really kind of weird when you think about it," says Sauter. "That first time at Richmond was overwhelming. I was coming off an unbelievable stretch with my ASA team and momentum was on my side. Getting the opportunity to run an RCR car was special in itself. Then, to finish where I did, made it so much better. Ever since that race, my life has been crazy."
Sauter did not get a chance to illustrate his full potential in his last trip to Richmond in May, as he struggled with a tight car and finish 22nd. However, he knows he is capable of better and expects to show that Friday night. If everything goes right, he could come away with a win at the same racetrack he started his NASCAR career.
* 2001 champion Johnny Sauter made his first trip back to the ASA circuit last Monday in St. Paul, Minn., where he competed in the Miller Lite 300 at Minnesota State Fair Speedway. Driving his No. 9 Johnny Sauter Enterprises Chevrolet, he started 21st and finished 17th.
* Team ACDelco will take chassis No. 014 to race under the lights in Richmond this week. This car, last run at Indianapolis Raceway Park, also saw action at Gateway International Raceway, The Milwaukee Mile, Kentucky Speedway, Nashville Superspeedway, and Nazareth Speedway.
* Start time for Friday night's Funai 250 is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 250-lap event on TNT starts at 8:00 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN beginning at 7:30 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.
ACDelco driver Johnny Sauter on Richmond International Raceway
What do you like about Richmond?
"Richmond is a smooth, fast racetrack. It's the perfect mix of short track and speedway racing with the way it's laid out. There is plenty of room to pass and you can get some fast speeds on the straight-aways, but there's still a lot of beating and banging that goes on throughout the race. It's a good race for the fans and I really like going there."
Does it have any special meaning?
"I definitely think it does. I mean, I ran my first Busch Series race there with Richard Childress and finished fifth. It was totally unbelievable. This place will always have a special spot in my heart because it's where everything started for me as far as NASCAR goes."
What's your favorite moment of the past year?
"That's a tough one because there are so many things that have happened. Probably taking the ASA championship with a win in the last race of the season would be my favorite moment. That was pretty big and it was nice to have my brother finish behind me that race."
ACDelco crew chief Rick Viers on Richmond International Raceway
What do you need to win at Richmond?
"A very fast car. Richmond is a fast, short-track, but if you don't have the right set-up to get around the place, you are in for a long day. When we came here in the spring, we really struggled with the set-up and it prevented us from competing. I think we're all excited to get back and show that we can run well."