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Tim Sauter Loses ASA ACDelco Challenge Series Ride

28 August 1997

Pendleton, IN - Leo Motorsports, in a somewhat surprising announcement, released driver Tim Sauter from his ride on the ASA ACDelco Challenge Series team. Sauter is currently second in the Rookie points and ninth in the overall points.

According to information received from Interactive Motorsports Entertainment President Robert Prevost, there was essentially a lack of communications between the driver and the team. Prevost and IME recently signed a deal with Leo Motorsports to provide consulting and representation for matters related to the team's operation. Additionally, IME was signed to assist in the team's sponsorship search efforts for the 1998 season and also help Leo Motorsports implement an innovative stock car driver training program.

"Initially when Tim came in, it was agreed Tim would provide assistance to the team in a variety of areas that never materialized," Prevost said. "The problem was that Tim Sauter would not make a commitment to the team for next year, until October. That was something agreed to last December, that we would have the right of first refusal on the option for 1998."

Sauter has been consistent of late after getting off to a somewhat slow start. At the Milwaukee Mile on August 24, Sauter qualified the team's car fifth and finished 13th, one lap off the pace. Through 14 events, Sauter had closed the point gap on top Pat Schauer Memorial Rookie of the Year candidate Steve Carlson to 140 points and was just nine points behind Harold Fair for eighth in overall points.

"I've been released." Sauter stated. "My plans are to run the Minnesota State Fair in a Ford owned by All Star Motorsports. Beyond that, I have no plans at this time."

Sauter said he was greeted at the door by Leo Motorsports car owner Ed Ochylski and told he was being released from the team.

"We had a verbal agreement and a handshake to finish out the season and I was willing to live with that," Sauter said. "We had that agreement and it didn't work out. I wasn't willing to sign a contract right now, however I would have been willing to evaluate things in October and sign one then. I just wanted to get through the end of the season and see where things were. I felt I was protecting my best interest by wanting to wait until October. I wasn't willing to sign the contract, so that's why they fired me."

Sauter said when he arrived at the Leo Motorsports building on December 1, 1996, the building was empty and the team has been built from scratch, an opportunity he feels good about.

"I'm not going to say anything bad about Ed or the team, because he gave me an opportunity I wouldn't have otherwise had," Sauter said. "We started this deal from scratch and I thought we'd come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. We were close enough in the rookie deal to still have a shot at that and we were getting better."

Sauter's new situation is open and he isn't sure what the future holds.

"I'm at the Gunderman shop working on his number 60 Thunderbird and that's what I plan to drive at Minnesota," Sauter stated. "I'm not going to interfere with Mike Garvey's deal here. Gerry Gunderman is helping me out right now and we'll just play it by ear from there. Right now, I am looking for opportunities and am searching for sponsorship for the rest of this season."

The Leo Motorsports team will have Bobby Gill in the car for the Minnesota State Fair race and the World Cup 300 at I-70 Speedway.

"We have a major announcement to be made in the next 10 days," said Prevost. "The car will be run at Minnesota and at I-70 under the capable hands of Bobby Gill. Around September 10, we should be making the announcement for our new driver of the remaining races of this year and likely for all of 1998"

John Kaiser -- The Auto Channel