HARVICK AND SAUTER RETURN TO CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY, SITE OF THEIR 2002 WINS

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Among the seven NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch Series drivers testing today were 2002 Chicagoland Speedway race winners Kevin Harvick and Johnny Sauter. Harvick took home the checkered flag in the 2001 and 2002 Tropicana 400, NASCAR Winston Cup Series events, while Johnny Sauter chalked up his first NASCAR Busch Series win in the 2002 Tropicana Twister 300.

When asked what the two-time Tropicana 400 winner can learn from a test session, Harvick was quick to answer. "I think the biggest thing is that when you have an opportunity to come to a race track and win three races in a row, you want to make sure you make the right changes to the car," said Harvick. "We've changed bodies and usually when you have a newer race track such as (Chicagoland Speedway), things can change. So, we wanted to come back to make sure all the stuff we've had in the past is somewhat close, and it is."

With the temperature above 90 degrees today and the race only days away, Harvick is counting on race day weather to be very similar. "You can come to these newer style race tracks where the weather is very sensitive and waste a day testing. We know we have a good set-up and a lot of good things going on for us here," said Harvick. "We wanted to try some different things, off the wall things, and know that when we come back here for the (Tropicana 400), the track won't be 180-degrees different from what it was when we tested."

Gambling on weather may seem risky, but not as risky as Harvick's move that put him in the Winners Circle for the second year in a row at Chicagoland Speedway. On lap 196 of the 2002 Tropicana 400, Harvick dropped down onto the apron of the track to make a pass and lost control of the car coming back onto the track. But, he was able to regroup and continue on. With 25 laps to go, on the day's final caution, the leaders pitted to get gas, but his crew chief at the time, Gil Martin, took a gamble and had Harvick stay out on the track - moving him from ninth to first and securing his second Tropicana 400 victory at Chicagoland Speedway.

Fellow 2002 NASCAR weekend race winner, Sauter, is in town this week testing the no. 4 Kodak Pontiac for Morgan-McClure Motorsports, the ride previously held by Mike Skinner. This week's test has been a try-out of sorts for the NASCAR Busch series regular. "I got a call last week seeing if I was interested in coming to Chicago to test and see what I can do in a Winston Cup car," said Sauter about the call. "I'm pretty pleased with the test today. We are within a tenth of where Harvick is running in the No. 29 car and we are very consistent," concluded Sauter.

Sauter is no stranger to success at Chicagoland Speedway after taking home a win in the 2002 Tropicana Twister 300. On the last pit stop of the race, Sauter took on scuffed tires and some gas and charged his way to the front and took home his first NASCAR Busch Series career victory, also the first among his brothers who also race. "I think, more or less, (Morgan-McClure Motorsports) went down the list of NASCAR Busch Series drivers who they thought were ready to make the next step and I guess my name came up," Sauter said humbly. "I've only got seven laps in a Winston Cup car prior to being here today and that was at Homestead in Harvick's car last year. I'm excited about this opportunity and obviously my main focus and goal is to get to Winston Cup." Sauter concluded, "I really like this race track, this is my favorite race track and I felt right at home in the car today."

Other drivers testing today included NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Greg Biffle and NASCAR Busch Series drivers Coy Gibbs, Scott Wimmer, Mike Wallace, and Jason Keller.

Harvick and Sauter will return Thursday to Chicagoland Speedway to conclude their test session for the upcoming July 11-13 NASCAR weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.

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Click here for more information about the July 11-13 NASCAR/IROC weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.

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