On three wheels by Bill Desmond MYRTLE BEACH, S. C. (July 14 2001) - The fourth of July might have been last week but a shower of sparklers lit up the finish line when Tim Sauter took the checkered flag Saturday night on three wheels with the ...
On three wheels
by Bill Desmond
MYRTLE BEACH, S. C. (July 14 2001) - The fourth of July might have been last week but a shower of sparklers lit up the finish line when Tim Sauter took the checkered flag Saturday night on three wheels with the Gatorade All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring in the Myrtle Beach, (SC) Speedway 320.
Sauter, making only his fourth career start with this series, emerged with the lead on lap 235 as his Victor Ford/UPI United Painting Ford challenged series points leader Wayne Anderson's Jani-King Chevrolet coming off turn four. Sauter took his car to the inside getting along side Anderson's Chevrolet.. The two cars touched with Anderson's car spinning on the front stretch and Sauter taking the point. As the laps counted down Sauter started to slow with three laps to go.
On the white flag lap the right front wheel broke loose from his car sending a shower of sparks sprewing from under his Ford as he crossed the finish line. "I can't believe it," said Sauter as he emerged from his car in victory lane. "I can't ever recall winning a race on three wheels but that just shows how strong this Richie Waters prepared car was tonight." "I have not raced for the past four weeks after the Busch team that I was driving for decided to cease operation. I needed this win to get some confidence back and when Richie called and asked me to drive I really looked forward to coming to Myrtle Beach. "We had a bad pit stop and got behind but the car was strong and when I got behind Anderson's car with 30 laps to go, I just tried to be patient."
"The car was strong in turns three and four and when his car pushed up I went low to try for the lead, continued Sauter. Sauter moved into the top spot on lap 115 and held the point through lap 155 when he pitted for fresh Hoosier shoes along with Benny Gordon, Eddie Mercer, Wayne Anderson and Randy Gentry. But a slow pit stop relegated him to eight place when the field went back to green flag competition. From that point he had to work his way back into contention. This was Sauter's first series start since 1996 and his fourth career start. He won the first series event he entered at the Milwaukee Mile in 1994.
Rounding out the top five finishers were Benny Gordon in his Johnny's Hallmark Trailers/East Cooper Plastic Surgery Pontiac, Randy Gentry in his Carolina Painting Chevrolet, Anderson and Wireway/Husky Corp. Rookie-of-the-Year new points leader Charlie Bradberry in his Bradberry Racing Chevrolet.
Gentry garnered his first Bud Pole start of 2001 and his second career Bud Pole leading the 28-car field around the .538-mile oval with a time of 20.243 secs. (95.678 mph) with Gordon starting outside front row for the second consecutive race.
"Just one more lap was all we needed," said Gordon after the race. "Our car was awesome on that first set of tires but the second set got us loose and I just did not want to push the car. We needed another good run tonight as we had some new potential sponsors with us and this is our home territory." Two second place finishes in a row had the Charleston, S. C. driver sporting a wide smile on his face.
Gentry and Gordon raced door handle-to-door handle for the first lap before Gentry took the point as the two cars exited turn four on lap one. However racing action was halted after only five laps when the Southern Insurance Agency Chevrolet driven by Robert Powell dropped rear end fluid on the front stretch causing a major incident that ended the night for local favorite Kevin Prince's Papa Pizza/Paul's Dogs/Hooks Alarms Chevrolet and Powell. Also involved were the cars of Billy Mills and Shane Sieg but they were able to continue.
Twelve laps later racing resumed with Gentry at the point with Gordon, Jody Lavender and Bradberry in hot pursuit. But Bradberry got caught on the highside of the track losing several positions before he could get in line.
Gordon moved to the front on lap 19 on the backstretch and showed lots of muscles keeping the point over the next 95 laps to earn the Gatorade "FrontRunner" Award for leading the most laps. With Gordon leading and Gentry running second, Anderson and Sauter had their cars dialed in and were on the move continuing to charge to the front. By lap 72 Anderson was running second and on lap 80 Sauter was in third. Sauter took second on lap 95 with his sights on Gordon's Chevrolet. Three laps after the restart of the fifth race caution Sauter took the top spot
Another hard luck driver was Brian Smith who took over the point when all the front cars made their stop for tires on lap 154. During the caution, Smith's car ran over debris on the track cutting down the right rear tire sending his Bell and Bell Pontiac Oldsmobile Pontiac to the pits. David Reutimann inherited the lead which lasted only six laps before Anderson charged to the front.
Anderson was strong and looked to be on his way to his fourth stop in victory lane in 2001 as he manuvered his mount through slower cars. But Sauter never gave up and on lap 199 was running second. Anderson had at least a six car lead on lap 214 but Sauter was able to close consistently in turns three and four. Over the next 15 laps Anderson was able to keep Sauter's Ford in second until Anderson's car pushed in turn four giving Sauter the opening he needed to try and make the pass.
Rounding out the top ten finishers were Reutimann, Mercer, Sieg, Smith and Jeff Fultz.
Bradberry was the top finishing Wireway/Husky Corp. rookie driver for the third consecutive race with Waters winning the Jasper Engines and Transmissions Crew Chief Award.
Sauter earned the Gatorade Championship Performance Award of $1,000 as well as the Ford Motor Company Award of $1,000 for putting a Ford in victory lane. The next event for the Gatorade All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring will be a return to Kentucky Speedway on August 10 - 11 for the 84 WHAS 150.