ASA Honors Its 1999 Champion Tim Sauter Record Crowd Gathers At ACDelco Challenge Series National Awards Banquet NASHVILLE, Tenn. (December 11, 1999) - A record-setting crowd gathered at Opryland Hotel Convention Center on Saturday, December 11...
ASA Honors Its 1999 Champion Tim Sauter Record Crowd Gathers At ACDelco Challenge Series National Awards Banquet
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (December 11, 1999) - A record-setting crowd gathered at Opryland Hotel Convention Center on Saturday, December 11 for the 1999 ASA ACDelco Challenge Series National Awards Banquet. It was the third consecutive year the series gathered at Opryland for the banquet.
The primary honoree at the ASA Banquet was 1999 National Champion Tim Sauter, who drove the Alec Pinsonneault-owned Build A Mold Chevrolet to the title. Sauter, from Necedah (Wis.), defeated Mike Miller by just six points, the second-closest points battle in ASA history. The closest was in 1992 when Mike Eddy defeated Johnny Benson Jr. by just two points.
"Its very special for me and my family," Sauter said. "My dad (Jim) and brother (Jay) both raced ASA and won races, but never something like this. By far it tops my racing career so far."
Sauter will return to defend his title in 2000 ASA season.
"Alec Pinsonneault (car owner) gave us everything we could have needed," Sauter said. "The whole A.P.Performance team in Windsor has come a long way in the last few years. They're just a quality operation."
Miller, who drove the Jani-King Pontiac to five victories in 1999 and led the points for the bulk of the season, finished in the runner-up slot. Miller moved to seventh on the career victories list with 15, seven behind Mark Martin.
"Obviously it was a great year for my team but I sure would have loved to win the title," Miller said.
He will aim to finish one position higher in the points chase in the 2000 season.
“My mother once told me that a 'good loser is still a loser',” Miller said. "But I'm really looking forward to 2000 with the Vortec engine and BFGoodrich combination."
After winning Pat Schauer Memorial Rookie of the Year honors in 1998, Jimmie Johnson returned to ASA to win twice and finish third in the points in the Herzog Motor Sports Pennzoil Chevrolet in 1999. Johnson won two races, including the season-ending North Carolina SweetPotato 400, which was also his last race as a full-time ASA driver. The El Cajon, Calif., native will move to the Busch Grand National Series in 2000.
"ASA has been fantastic for me and I hope to run selected events next year," Johnson said.
A late-season hot streak propelled Mike Garvey, from Muskegon (Mich.), to a strong, fourth-place finish in the Tecumseh Chevrolet owned by Scott LaFavre, of Lakeville (Minn.). Garvey also led for 1,212 of 5,800 laps in ASA in 1999.
"I really believe we were close to three or four more wins," Garvey said. "Too bad the season doesn't start tomorrow because we're ready for chase the championship."
1998 ASA National Champion Gary St. Amant slipped a few positions in 1999, finishing fifth. St. Amant, in the Bud Gebben-owned Wynn's Chevrolet, ended up 149 points out of the lead position.
"My crew is flat out the best in ASA," St. Amant said. "If not for a couple of bad breaks, some of my own doing, we would have been right there. 2000 should be the greatest for this series."
Rick Johnson, who finished eighth in points, was honored as the 1999 Pat Schauer Memorial Rookie of the Year at the National Awards Banquet. Johnson drove for Herzog Motor Sports. Johnson is from El Cajon (Calif.), but is not related to Jimmie Johnson.
"I've won a lot of championships and winning Rookie of the Year in ASA means alot," Johnson said. "Next year I hope to win some races and certainly contend for the title with Herzog Motor Sports."
Several special awards are presented annually in ASA. The awards are voted on by the top-20 car owners and drivers in the series. Earning the "Hard Luck" Consolation Award in 1999 was rookie driver Russ Tuttle, from Indianapolis. The Extra Mile "Special De dication" Award also went to a rookie driver from Indianapolis, as it was presented to Tim Taylor. Three Outstanding Sportsmanship Awards are presented each year, with Noah Yoder being honored with the owner's award, Jack Landis picking up the driver's awa rd and Carl Hiland collecting the mechanic's award. North Carolina's second-year driver Greg Stewart was named the Most Improved Driver in the series. For the second-consecutive year, and the third time in four years, Hawkeye Downs Speedway was named as th e Promoter of the Year. This was the first season for Jim Amstutz to serve as the promoter at the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) facility.
In a points battle that carries as much pride as the championship chase, Chevrolet won the Manufacturer's Cup championship for the second-consecutive year. Chevrolet won the Manufacturer's Cup in 1993, then Pontiac won the award for four-consecutive season s prior to Chevrolet earning the award in 1998.
Three awards presented in 1999 were new to the ASA Banquet. The first was the Sponsor of the Year Award, which was presented to A & M Cleaning Products, the parent company of Greased Lightning.
Tecumseh Products Company was honored with the Special Event Promotion of the Year Award.
The third special award was presented to ACDelco in honor of its 10 years of sponsorship of the ASA series. Ken Robinson accepted the ASA Series Entitlement special award on behalf of the company.
"Our decade with ASA has been an exciting growth period for ourselves and this series," Robinson said. "We look forward to that moving to new heights for the 2000 ASA ACDelco Series."
The evening was closed with some announcements regarding the 2000 ASA season. The first of those is ACDelco will return with the series changing names to the ASA ACDelco Series. ASA will also move from the V6 engines to the Vortec Red ASA V8 engines for 20 00 and will switch to BFGoodrich radial tires.
BFGoodrich Director of Motorsports Herb Johnson expressed excitement toward the ASA ACDelco Series on behalf of his company.
"This is an important step for us moving into arguably the most popular form of motorsports in the world," Johnson said. "We're off to a great start with ASA and our people are anxious to get going."