BUSCH: Sparta: Johnny Sauter preview

The benefits of blue. HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (June 12, 2002) - The color blue is synonymous with the state of Kentucky. It's nickname the "Bluegrass State" comes from the bluish-purple buds seen in large fields across the state that give a...

The benefits of blue.

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (June 12, 2002) - The color blue is synonymous with the state of Kentucky. It's nickname the "Bluegrass State" comes from the bluish-purple buds seen in large fields across the state that give a rich blue cast to the grass. The state flag is a deep blue with the state's seal and the words "Commonwealth of Kentucky" adorned in the middle. Even the state's college, the University of Kentucky, carries blue as their team's primary color.

It seemed only fitting then that in the inaugural NASCAR Busch Series event at Kentucky Speedway last year, a blue car crossed the finish line first and took the checkered flag. That happened when Kevin Harvick, at the helm of the No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet Monte Carlo, won the Outback Steakhouse 300 in June of 2001. A year later, Team ACDelco hopes to duplicate that effort with a rookie driver at the 1.5-mile speedway.

"Getting a win at Kentucky would really bring this team to life," says 24-year old driver Johnny Sauter. "Harvick's run there last year didn't surprise anyone because of how well he had been running. I just hope we can be as successful on Saturday."

The blue crew has been hard at work making sure the blue and white racing machine doesn't loose any time in the pits, and will try to continue that Saturday night. "The guys have come on strong these last couple of races," adds Sauter. "They've given me solid pit stops that keep me on the go and I don't see that stopping."

If the luck of being blue holds true in Kentucky, it might see Sauter and Team ACDelco in the spotlight on Saturday night. They will do all they can to make that happen, starting with a solid qualifying for the Kroger 300 on Friday night.

* Richard Childress Racing's No. 2 Chevy dominated the latter part of Kentucky's first NASCAR Busch Series race last season. After passing the No. 10 Ford Taurus for the lead on lap 70, it led the next 130 laps on its way to Victory Lane.

* Team ACDelco will take chassis No. 014 to Kentucky, the same one they ran at Nashville (T.N.) Superspeedway last weekend where Sauter finished 19th. This chassis also saw action at Nashville in April and at Nazareth, Pa., where Sauter finished 12th and 11th, respectively.

* Start time for Saturday night's Kroger 300 is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. EDT. TV coverage of the 200-lap event on FX starts at 7:30 p.m., with radio coverage on MRN starting at 7:15 p.m. Remember times and dates of the race may change, so check your local listings.

ACDelco driver Johnny Sauter on Kentucky Speedway

Has anyone talked to you about Kentucky Speedway?
"I really don't have a clue about this racetrack. Everyone tells me it's a cross between Nashville and Las Vegas. It's flatter than where we ran last weekend, but it carries a lot more speed. I know we're taking the same car we raced at Nashville last Saturday. I don't think we're changing much except the shocks, the rear-end gear, and the steering box."

You seem to run well at the 1.5-mile racetracks, why?
"RCR seems to build cars that really adapt well to mile-and-a-half tracks. They have a great body and motor combination that helps the car get through the corners and down the straight-aways. It's also nice because these tracks have a lot of room to race. We can go three-wide at most of them, which makes for some exciting racing."

What's your favorite color?
"Definitely blue. It's been that for as long as I can remember. I think it's because my first race car was blue, and the car I drove last year was blue. In fact, it seems like every car I've ever had was blue. It's a cool color and it looks good on the racetrack, especially under the lights."

ACDelco crew chief Rick Viers on Kentucky Speedway

What will you tell your rookie driver about Kentucky?
"To tell you the truth, we don't really tell Johnny much about the racetracks he's never been to before. We don't want him to have any preconceived notions about how to get around them. We found out that it works best to have him go out in that first practice and tell us what he thinks he needs to get comfortable. Then, we can make decisions from there on what to do with the car and make the weekend more productive."


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Drivers Kevin Harvick , Johnny Sauter
Teams Richard Childress Racing