Jay Sauter, FC team ready for Bristol


star staff

  As the Busch Series makes its way back to Bristol on Aug. 27, so does one of the areas most consistent teams.
  Year in and year out the Abingdon, Virginia-based Food Country team of Charlie Henderson has been a part of the Busch Series circuit, especially when it comes to Bristol.
  With limited resources, the No. 75 Chevrolet has been competing in the race event since the Busch Series was constructed in 1982.
  It's quite different from back in those days, as the team now runs a limited schedule with native Necedah, Wisconsin driver Jay Sauter.
  Sauter has a recent career in both the Busch Series and Craftsman Trucks, and with his experience and family background he is definitely someone who can bring a lot to the table for Henderson.
  "Bristol is in their backyard here, and they love this place and always come out to race it," said Sauter. "This is probably my favorite race track too, so we put a lot of effort in testing and make our car as best as it can be to put on a good show."
  It was 1996 when Sauter first hit the scene in the Busch Series, as he teamed up with car owner Richard Childress to drive the No. 3 Goodwrench Chevrolet.
  The next four years they would combine for a total of four wins, with the first victory coming in 1997 at New Hampshire, and the last two during the 1999 season at Louisville and Texas.
  Sauter has recently driven at both the Nashville and Kentucky Speedway, and his future plans looks to put him behind the wheel again in the Truck Series.
  "We're going to run the Truck Series here at Bristol, and it's a new team at MRD Motorsports, who have set out to run seven races this year," said Sauter. "We're trying to get ready this year for next season, so we've run two events and have five more to go, so we'll see what happens."
  In the past several seasons, Sauter's focus has been on the Busch Series, which started in the year of 2000, in which he had one top five and finished 16th in the points.
  Driving for car owner Mike Curb, Sauter spent the 2000 and 2001 seasons to post a third-place finish at Texas and a pole at the Kentucky.
  Sauter ran a limited schedule for Richard Childress in the 2002 season, when he finished fourth at Nashville in the Rockwell Automation Chevrolet.
  For the past two years, Sauter has made the alliance with Henderson, which saw them place ninth at the Nashville Speedway -- one the selected races they run -- in 2003.
  "The hardest part for us is when everybody else is racing every week and we're only racing 10n times a year -- then you kind of have one arm tied behind you're back," said Sauter. "We just keep putting our best foot forward and working as hard and see what we can make."
  Nashville is the only top 10 finish the two have had together, but a 13th at Richmond and 16th at Nashville this season has the team knocking on the door of another top 10 finish.
  "We had a good run at Richmond, and it seems like we're either around the top 15 or have a DNF," said Sauter. "It's probably already a step up from last year, and Charlie Henderson and these guys are trying to work hard and get back into the top ten."
  Jay is the brother of both Tim and Johnny Sauter, as the whole family has been a part of racing their entire lives.
  Jim Sauter is the father of the three who still competes from time to time and is a test driver for the IROC Series, but it is brother Johnny who has been in the spotlight in most recent times.
  The former Nextel Cup driver of Childress Racing and present driver of the No. 27 Kleenex Chevrolet has two wins on the Busch circuit and regularly interacts with Jay when he competes.
  "Johnny is always a big help, and obviously he's running the Brewco car, and anything that applies, they'll help me with," said Jay.
  The Food Country team has only three career Busch Series wins, with the first one coming from Johnson City driver Brad Teague in 1987 and two from Rick Wilson in 1989.
  One of Wilson's wins came in the spring race at Bristol, and past history shows the No. 75 Chevrolet has had some good runs here at the World's Fastest Half-mile.
  "We've been real consistent here so far, and we've tried a multitude of changes, which some things helped and some things didn't," said Jay. "We're going to try some qualifying runs and that will be the real test."
  Don't be surprised to see the Food Country team comes back with a nice finish at Bristol again, as itqualified 10th in last year's race and was running sixth before unfortunately crashing out on the frontstretch.
  "That's the way this Bristol is -- it's wide-open and all action," said Jay. "Sometimes you fare well and sometimes you don't. It's a fast, fun race track, and I can't expect seeing any better race in the country than here at Bristol."