Aura XR, excessive crank

I own a 2007 Saturn Aura XR that has 171K total miles on it. I've had it s ince the summer of 2009 and I've driven it approximately 140K miles. The f
ollowing problem has plagued me for approximately the last 12 months: When ever I fill the gas tank, the very next time I try to start the car it does n't start right up like it usually does but "cranks" quite excessively. Af ter a few tries it finally starts up. To put it concisely -
- car is low on fuel - engine is turned off - tank is filled - attempt to start engine, fails, resulting in abnormal amount of cranking - 2 or 3 subsequent start attempts are usually needed to start
I've paid quite close attention to the behavioral of the car the past sever al months. Usually it starts right up with no hesitation whatsoever. The only time it gives me trouble is when I top off the fuel tank, NO OTHER TIM E. Seriously, it has never, not once, given me a hard time starting except for when I top it off with fuel. Anyone have any thoughts on what might b e going on?
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When was the last time you changed the fuel filter or put in some drygas? No trouble codes come up/ no check engine light? If there is a lot of sediment in the tank, filling it will stir it up and sometimes block the in-tank pre-filter that is part of the fuel pump. Likewise, if there is any water accumulation, the fuel filter will become largely plugged if it gets wet.
Does this correlate to ambient temperature or engine temperature? fill the tank and let it sit overnight, how does it start? If nothing else is apparent, have the fuel pressure and fuel delivery tested (right after filing the tank).
The only other thing I can think of related to filling the tank is the fuel cap and vapor canister purge system. If anything is wrong with that, it would give you a check engine lamp though. I've seen a few issues with an intermittent crank angle sensor but that's usually either won't start at all or dies when engine is hot.
Just for gits and shiggles, when it is hard starting, 1) put the pedal to the floor while cranking (assume that you normally use no pedal when cranking). 2) temporarily disconnect the Mass Airflow (MAF) and then crank.
Let us know how this goes.

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Thanks so much for your insight!! I've been out of town for quite a while and haven't had an opportunity to try your suggestions.
On Thursday, April 18, 2013 2:54:58 PM UTC-4, Oppie wrote:

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