BUSCH: Richmond: Johnny Sauter preview

Johnny raring to return to Richmond. April 30, 2002 (Huntersville, N.C.) - The last time Johnny Sauter, driver of the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo, visited Richmond International Raceway, he was probably a little nervous. After all, he...

Johnny raring to return to Richmond.

April 30, 2002 (Huntersville, N.C.) - The last time Johnny Sauter, driver of the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo, visited Richmond International Raceway, he was probably a little nervous. After all, he had just been called up by Richard Childress to run his first NASCAR Busch Series race. Despite the situation, he handled himself very well and came away with an astonishing top-five finish. Now, in his second time back, he hopes the experience he gained will help him conquer the field on Friday night.

"It's definitely nice to head to a racetrack where I've run well," states Sauter. "With the test and the race last year, I logged a lot of miles at Richmond and was able to get a good feel for it. I think it also helped that Richmond was like a lot of tracks I was running on the ASA circuit. I was already used to the short-track bumping and banging that you always associate with them."

The youngest Sauter brother had an outstanding run in his Busch Series debut at the .75-mile raceway last year. His patience and keen driving skills paid off in route to his best finish in five starts last season. This time around, he hopes to bring about a victory with his blue and white racing machine.

"To get a win here would be awesome," adds the 2002 Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate. "We're coming off two bad weekend's in a row where we didn't even finish. This team needs a boost of confidence. Our goal is just to stay out of trouble and be there at the end."

Friday's race, the first one held under the lights this season, is one of the best to watch. It's got all the excitement of short track racing, with high speeds and quick tempers. Don't miss the action as qualifying gets underway Thursday afternoon.

* Johhny Sauter is celebrating a birthday this week. On May 1, Johnny Rocket turns 24 years old. He's hoping to celebrate his birthday in the same place he started his NASCAR career, and what a nice present the Hardee's 250 trophy would be.

* The No. 2 ACDelco Racing team will take chassis No. 006 to race at Richmond Int'l Raceway this week. The car, which has not yet been raced this season, was last in action at Memphis Motorsports Park in 2001. Kevin Harvick sat on the pole and finished third in that event.

* Start time for Friday night's Hardee's 250 is scheduled for 7:40 PM ET. TV coverage of the 187.5-mile event on FX starts at 7:30 PM ET with radio coverage on MRN starting at 7:15 PM ET. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings. ACDelco driver Johnny Sauter on Richmond International Raceway

Tell us about your first NASCAR Busch Series experience.

"It was a very exciting, but hectic two-weeks for me. I had just won my eighth race up in Jennerstown, PA and went straight to Richmond (VA) to test on Monday and Tuesday. They had just sealed the racetrack and I think I made about 450 laps. I think we qualified 23rd for the race, then had just a solid night. We had great pit stops and I managed to stay out of trouble on my way to finishing fifth. Then I hopped on a plane, went to Memphis, sat on the pole and won there. I was high as a hog after that."

What do you gain having been to this track already?

"Definitely a better feel for how the car is going to handle in different situations. Knowing what the track is like allows you not to worry about going out there and figuring out where your marks are. I can go into this weekend having been there and run good. This is short-track racing at its best. It's fast, but yields plenty of room for fun."

Give us your thoughts on racing at night.

"Personally, I like racing at night better than during the day. The atmosphere is better and you really get a chance to see some of the sparks and fireworks that short-track racing provides. I think we ran about half of our ASA circuit at night. Those were always so much fun."

ACDelco crew chief Ricky Viers on Richmond International Raceway

What kind of a racetrack is Richmond International Raceway? "Richmond is a fast short-track. They just repaved the place last year and smoothed it out a lot. It fits Johnny's driving style perfectly because this is what he's used to from his ASA days. Having him run here in the past in a Busch car will help, and knowing that he ran well means we can use that information and see where it takes us. The biggest thing for the team this weekend will be just finishing the race. We need it after all we've been through the past two races."


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Drivers Johnny Sauter